Clams and Mussels Cataplana

This is my favorite version. Feel free to use all clams or all mussels, and vary the smoked meats to your taste. It makes a lot of sauce. My family loves it over pasta, which soaks up the sauce. Not traditional, but good.

1 2-pound bag mussels
12 littleneck clams
1 link chourico
1/4 pound slab bacon, sliced thickly
1 slice presunto or prosciutto, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
1 28-ounce can ground peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
3 large cloves garlic
1 large onion
Half of a large green pepper
Olive oil
Pepper to taste

Heat an 8-quart cooking pot. Slice the bacon into pieces and fry until brown and crisp. Remove the bacon pieces and reserve them. Pour off the fat, leaving the browned bits in the pot. Slice the chourico into thin rounds and saute until browned. Remove from the pan and reserve. Dice the ham and saute in the same pan until browned. Remove and reserve. Dice the onion and green pepper.

Add a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil to the pan and saute the vegetables until soft. Add the wine and cook, stirring the bottom of the pot to loosen all the browned bits. Cook until the wine is almost gone and add the tomatoes. Add a few grinds of black pepper and a couple of spoonfuls of the chourico and ham. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will be very thick, but don’t add liquid. The shellfish will release a lot of juice as they cook.¬†

Clean the clams and mussels. Remove about half the sauce from the pot. Add the clams and mussels and top with the rest of the sauce. Cover and cook over medium heat until the clams and mussels are just open. Add the reserved chourico and ham and cook for another 5 minutes. Top with the bacon pieces and minced parsley and serve in bowls with crusty bread and red wine.

Serves 4 as a meal.

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