Portuguese Pork Stew – Rojoes à cominho

Perusing Williams Sonoma’s Savoring Spain and Portugal a recipe for a pork stew caught my eye.  Intrigued, I googled the Portuguese name for the stew (Rojoes à Cominho) and came up with several variations from American food bloggers as well as Portuguese and Spanish recipe sites.

The word Rojoes is portuguese for “chucks” and cominho is “cumin”.  So, the stew is made up of chunks of meat dressed with cumin.  The stew is from th Minho, the portuguese most upper province, very Celtic in nature,  abutting Galicia.

As with any traditional recipes, there are as many variations as there are cooks.  In this recipe chunks of pork meat and cumin were used in every recipe, but then things got a little more interesting.  Some recipes (both with American and Iberian cooks) marinated the meat overnight in white wine, some recipes added it when the stew was cooked.  Garlic was used in most recipes, and then came lemon added as a cooking ingredient or at the end. Cilantro or bay leaves? Pepper or Paprika?  Those ingredients varied from recipe to recipe.

I was determined to find my own interpretation of this dish, especially since it dawned on me that my son, husband and I had bicycled through the Minho region in 2001 and enjoyed its wonderful regional food.  I have made the stew four times, each time varying slightly the ingredients and cooking method.  Jack pronounced the dish to taste “like boar stew we had in Italy” .  The following is my definitive recipe – satisfying and fairly straight forward. We serve it over egg noodles – à la boar stew.

Allow about 4 hours preparation for this dish as it marinates and then cooks slowly.  I suggest that the stew be made a day or two in advanced, refrigerated, and then re-heated as it gets better the longer (within reason) it stands.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 pork tenderloins
  2. 2 tablespoons cumin, toasted & ground
  3. 1 tablespoon Pimentón de la Vera (hot smoked paprika)
  4. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  5. 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro,* chopped
  6. 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  7. 2 cups chopped onion
  8. 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  9. 1/2 cup white wine
  10. 4 cups chicken broth
  11. 2 tablespoons flour
  12. salt & pepper to taste

* reserve about 1/4 cup of cilantro to garnish stew

Directions:

  1. Cut each pork tenderloin in 2 long wise.  Then, cut the meat in cubes. Put the meat in a non reactive bowl.
  2. Toast the cumin in a small skillet.  Warm slightly and grind to a powder.
  3. Add the smoked paprika to the cumin, stir, and toss the cubed pork tenderloin with it.
  4. Add 3/4  of the chopped cilantro (reserving the rest for the cooked stew) and stir to coat.
  5. Add the 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the meat mixture which has been covered in cumin, paprika, and cilantro, and stir to coat.
  6. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 2 hours.
Marinate cilantro, cumin, paprika covered pork for two hours.

Marinate cilantro, cumin, paprika covered pork for two hours.

  1. After 2 hours, bring 2 tablespoons olive oil to fragrant over medium heat in a heavy skillet and add half of the meat.  Reserve the marinade in the pan. Brown the meat, remove it, and then add the other half, doing the same. Remove.
  2. Add more oil, heat a bit, then add the chopped onion and cook for about 10 minutes stirring often.

    Simmer the strew for at least 2 hours

    Simmer the strew for at least 2 hours

  3. Add garlic and continue to cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the browned pork to the skillet, and whatever is left of the marinade.
  5. Add the white wine and enough chicken broth to cover the meat.  Bring to almost a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and simmer for 2 hours checking on the liquid every so often.  Add more broth if necessary.
  6. The broth should reduce as it cooks but the meat should not be allowed to stick to the pan. 
  7. Towards the end of the cooking time, add the 2 tablespoons flour to about 1/4 cup of water or broth, stir to dissolve, and add to the stew.  Continue to cook for another 15 minutes so that the sauce thickens.
  8. Remove from heat, allow to cool and refrigerate.  The stew is better if it rests for a day or two in the refrigerator.
  9. Serve over egg noodles

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