Tag Archives: madeira

Madeiran Pork with Wine and Garlic

From a recent issue of Milk Street, we found out that Carne Vinha D’alhos, or pork with wine and garlic, is a traditional Christmas dish from the Portuguese island of Madeira and the precursor to the spicy Indian curry called vindaloo.

To make it, chunks of pork are marinated in a heady mixture of wine, vinegar, garlic and herbs for up to a few days before they’re cooked until tender. This version of Madeiran Pork with Wine and Garlic was streamlined using pork shoulder instead of leaner pork loin, and the meat can marinate anywhere from 1 to 48 hours. (Ours marinated for 24 hours.)

Pork shoulder is a cut that requires lengthy cooking to become tender, so this oven-braised for about 1½ hours. Next, you brown the meat after simmering to develop a rich, flavorful caramelization. The marinade is then reduced to a light glaze, and the pork is finished by coating it with the reduction.

In Madeira, the pork typically is piled onto crusty rolls to make sandwiches, but we paired ours with another recipe from Milk Street: Portuguese Wine-Braised Potatoes with Garlic and Chiles where a mixture of wine and chicken broth are used for simmering the spuds to render them soft and tender.

After simmering the pork, be sure to drain the pieces on a rack as directed. This helps ensure nice caramelization when the pork is browned in the skillet. Finally, when skimming the fat off the braising liquid, be sure to reserve it for browning the pork.

Tip: Don’t use an uncoated cast-iron Dutch oven. Enamel-coated cast-iron is fine, but in an uncoated cast-iron pot—even in one that is well seasoned—the acidity of the marinade may react with the iron, producing metallic “off” flavors. A stainless steel cooking surface is fine, too, but avoid aluminum unless it has been treated to make it nonreactive.

Madeiran Pork with Wine and Garlic

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 5 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1- to 1½-inch chunks
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 6 whole cloves (optional)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Madeira wine
  • ¼ cup minced fresh oregano


  1. In a large Dutch oven, stir together the pork, wine, vinegar, bay, garlic, dried oregano, pepper flakes, cloves (if using) and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 48 hours.
  2. When you are ready to cook the pork, heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Set the pot, uncovered, over medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Re-cover, transfer to the oven and cook until a skewer inserted into the pork meets just a little resistance, about 1½ hours, stirring once about halfway through.
  3. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and garlic to the rack, removing and discarding the bay and cloves (if used); set aside. Tilt the pot to pool the cooking liquid to one side, then use a wide spoon to skim off as much fat as possible; reserve the fat. Or use a fat separator.
  4. Add the Madeira to the pot, bring to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced to about 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes; set aside. (We ended up with a LOT of liquid, so it took twice as long to reduce.) Remove and discard any large bits of fat on the exterior of the pieces of pork.
  5. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved pork fat until barely smoking. Add the pork and cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the reduced cooking liquid. Return to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the pork is lightly glazed and begins to sizzle, 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Taste and season with salt and black pepper, then stir in the fresh oregano. Transfer to a serving dish.


Recipe by Diane Unger for Milk Street

Espetadas—Portuguese Beef Skewers

Espetadas are Portuguese-style skewers most often using beef tenderloin, a very traditional dish, especially in the islands of Madeira. They are seasoned with typical Portuguese ingredients and cooked on open flames for the perfect amount of smokiness and flavor. Here however, we will used a gas grill.

We happened to have some filet mignon strips leftover from a large beef tenderloin that was cut into steaks. And coincidentally, just as we were figuring out the best way to use them up, Russ remembered an article from our most recent Milk Street magazine Espetada-Style Grilled Garlic and Bay Beef Skewers.

The secret of espetadas on the island of Madeira lies not in the meat, but rather the skewer itself, which are freshly cut laurel branches—the same type once used to crown athletes in ancient Rome and Greece. Today, Europe’s largest remaining laurel forest sits on Madeira. However, one needs to know which to cut because 4 of the 5 varieties are toxic! We’ll stick with wooden or metal skewers, thanks.

In this recipe, don’t use fresh bay leaves, they won’t grind down to a fine powder. Also, no need to use a top-shelf Madeira here, an inexpensive non-vintage bottle will do just fine. As far as marinating the meat, you can do so anywhere from 1 to 24 hours. By the time we thought to make this, we only had about 4 hours but that was enough to permeate the beef with all of that goodness.

Along with the beef cubes (of which we only had 1 pound), we decided to marinate some cremini mushrooms, skewer and grill them too. Our other sides included heirloom caprese tomato salad and freshly picked sweet corn on the cob steamed with fresh thyme.

To save a little time later on, after we prepared the marinade and tossed the mushrooms and beef chunks in, we went ahead and made the sauce up to the point of adding the butter. It can sit at room temperature for several hours then be reheated with the addition of butter when the skewers come off the grill and rest.

The next time we made them, we added cocktail tomatoes to the skewers.

Portuguese Beef Skewers

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1/2-2 lbs. beef tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 10 dried bay leaves, plus fresh for skewers* if desired
  • 1/2 cup Madeira wine
  • 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 2 pieces and chilled
  • 4 Portuguese bread buns, or other bread, optional
  • Wooden or metal skewers


  1. In a spice grinder, combine the bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, then pulverize to a fine powder.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of that bay salt, 1 tablespoon of grated garlic and 1 tablespoon EVOO, using a fork to mash until well combined.
  3. Add the cubes of beef and coat them well with the marinade.
  4. Let it marinate covered in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and bay salt, stirring until fragrant and sizzling, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant and sizzling, about 10 seconds.
  7. Add the Madeira and bring to a simmer, then reduce to low and cook, stirring occasionally until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Cover and set aside off the heat.
  8. When ready to cook, thread the cubes of meat onto the skewers (*alternating with a fresh bay leaf if desired.)
  9. Place skewers on hot side of grill. Cook uncovered until the beef is lightly charred on both sides and the center of the thickest piece reaches 125° for medium-rare, 8-10 minutes total.
  10. Transfer to a platter, tent with foil, and let rest while you finish the sauce.
  11. Set the pan containing the Madeira reduction over medium and heat uncovered just until steaming. Remove from the heat, add the butter and swirl the pan until the butter is melted and the sauce is emulsified.
  12. Remove meat from the skewers and drizzle with the sauce.


Recipe adapted from Rebecca Richmond from Milk Street