Portuguese Cornbread



My bread-making skills were a little rusty, so I approached this recipe much more methodically than I would normally. I needn’t have been nervous. It was easy as could be, and my family declared it the best bread I’d ever made. Of course, if you don’t want to make it yourself, you can easily get cornbread at a Portuguese bakery.


I couldn’t find corn flour, so I put some cornmeal in the food processor and that worked just fine. And since it’s only for the outside, cornmeal will do, too.


Cornbread (Pāo de Milho)




1¼ cups (310 mL) fine white or yellow cornmeal

3 tsp (15mL) fine salt

1¼ cups (310 mL) boiling water

2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar

1 cup (250 mL) lukewater water

2 packages active dry yeast (2 Tbsp/30mL)

3¼ cups (810 mL) all-purpose flour

½ cup (125 mL) white or yellow corn flour (approx.)


In a large bowl, blend the cornmeal and salt. Add the boiling water and stir until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes until lukewarm.


Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, dissolve the sugar in lukewarm water. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand for about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir the yeast mixture vigorously with a fork and stir into the cornmeal mixture. Gradually mix in the all-purpose mixture, until well combined. Turn out onto a well-surfaced surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.


Gather the dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased ball, and turn to grease all over. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for about 1½ hours or until doubled in bulk.


Punch down the dough. Shape into a round loaf or two small ones. Roll the dough in the corn flour until well covered. Place the loaf on a well-greased baking sheet or 8-inch (20 cm) cake pan. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Sprinkle with additional corn flour just before baking.


Recipe excerpted from Pimentos & Piri Piri (Whitecap Books) by Carla Azevedo.


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This recipe is slightly more involved than the simple clam dish Carla showed me on the video, but she was teaching me the very basics. For those of you ready for something more interesting, this dish promises a hearty meal, and a more unusual one. To be served with Portuguese cornbread, of course. (Recipe follows.)


Photo by Ryan Szulz, from the Pimentos & Piri Piri (Whitecap Books).

Clams in Cataplana with Pork, White Wine, and Coriander


A cataplana, a hinged clam-shaped cooking vessel, is so popular in the Algarve beach resorts that dozens of dishes have been named after it. If you do not have a cataplana, use a wok or a large pot with a tight-fitting lid and carefully cover the lid with a kitchen towel; do not uncover the pot while cooking.


• 2 lb (1 kg) Manila clams

• ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

• 4 oz (120 g) pork tenderloin,

• 1 onion, chopped

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 ½ cups (375 ml) peeled, 
seeded, and chopped tomatoes

• ½ red bell pepper, seeded,
 cored, and diced

• 4 oz (120 g) chouriço, sliced
 into ½ -inch (1 cm) pieces

• 1 bay leaf

• ½ tsp (2 ml) fine salt

• ¼ tsp (1 ml) coarsely 
ground black pepper

• ½ tsp (2 ml) dried oregano

• ½ tsp (1 ml) piri-piri sauce
 or Tabasco sauce

• ½ cup (125 ml) dry white

• ¼ cup (60 ml) chopped
 fresh coriander

• 2 slices prosciutto, chopped

1. Using a stiff brush, scrub the clams under cold running water to remove any surface sand and grit. Discard any clams that are not tightly closed. Set aside.

2. In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat; cook the pork for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned, and transfer to a dish; reserve. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, chouriço, bay leaf, salt, pepper, oregano, and piri-piri sauce; simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.

3. Transfer half of the tomato mixture to bottom of cataplana. Arrange the clams overtop and cover with the remaining tomato mixture. Tightly secure the cataplana lid and simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Flip the cataplana over and unlatch it; add the reserved pork and the wine and sprinkle with the coriander and prosciutto. Tightly secure the cataplana lid and cook until the shells open and the pork juices run clear when pierced with fork, 5 to 8 minutes (check for doneness after 5 minutes of cooking and continue cooking if meat is still pink). Discard any clams that have not opened. Serve.

Recipe excerpted from Pimentos & Piri Piri (Whitecap Books) by Carla Azevedo.