29 January 2012

Massa de Pimentão Pork Roast

Massa de pimentão, or red pepper paste, is a condiment I had tasted many times before I ever knew what it was. Or that it existed.

Why did the juice on Portuguese pork roasts have a red tinge? What was the spicy-but-not-spicy flavor that the pan drippings gave my potatoes? I tried putting some slices of chorizo in the roasting pan, doing a paprika-based spice rub-- not the same taste.

Then, I found a smiley little jar. (See above.) Bingo!

Now, Portuguese food being as simple as it is, it shouldn't surprise you to know that this is a condiment that takes only four ingredients and a little patience to make at home. It is a marinade, a dry rub, a crust that keeps all the good meaty juices inside the pork roast. So many things!

Also, it is yummy.

Combine this one rub with a pork shoulder and a little time in a low oven. Do whatever you want for a couple hours. Take the pork out to rest.  Get a little rice or potato action going on the stovetop. And before you know it, everyone thinks you are a pork roasting prodigy.


Red Pepper Paste Pork Roast
Porco Assado com Massa de Pimentão

2-3 pound boneless pork roast
1/4 cup red pepper paste (recipe below)
2 tablespoons pork lard or cooking oil

1. Rub the pork roast on all sides with the paste.  Set in the roasting pan and let it sit in the fridge for 6-12 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 325F (160C).  Heat the lard or cooking oil in a large sauté or frying pan on the stove.  When it is hot, nearly smoking, carefully brown the pork roast on all sides, including the ends.  This will make sure the paste forms a crust on the outside which will keep the juices in.

3. Put the roast back in the roasting pan and slide it into the oven.  Let it roast for about 30 minutes per pound, basting occasionally.  The roast is ready to come out when it is has an internal temp of 145F (63C).  Let it rest, covered with foil, for about 10 minutes.

4. Slice and serve with boiled potatoes or rice, with the pan juices on the side as a thin gravy.

Red Pepper Paste
Massa de Pimentão

8 red bell peppers
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Wash the peppers and core, seed, and cut them into strips about 1 inch wide. Place a layer of pepper in the bottom of a wide, shallow oven-safe bowl. Sprinkle with some of the salt. Add another layer of peppers, then salt, and repeat until you have 8 salted layers. Let stand covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for at least 12 hours, but 24-48 is even better.

2. Drain the peppers of all the liquid you can. Place the uncovered bowl in a 250F (120C) oven and bake for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

3. Peel and discard the skin from the peppers. (It should come off very easily when they are cooled.) Combine the skinned peppers, garlic, and about 1/4 cup of the oil in an electric blender or food processor. Process until the paste is smooth. With the processor running, add the remaining oil in a thin stream until the paste is a whipped, light consistency, more or less like mayonnaise. 

4. The paste is ready to use immediately. Keep any leftover paste in a jar with a tightly fitting lid and refrigerate. Use as needed, allowing the paste to come to room temperature before serving or rubbing on pork.

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