Febras de Porco Grelhadas (Grilled Pork Cutlets) with Massa de Pimentão (Sweet Red Pepper Paste) and Arroz de Manteiga (Buttered Rice)

Massa de Pimentão is a flavorful, salt-cured rub made from sweet red peppers and is best made at the end of summer when an abundance of peppers are ripening in the garden.  “But, it’s not summer,” I hear you protest.  “Ahh,” I reply, “I’m still using my last jar of Massa that I made last summer.”  What would I do if I hadn’t married into a Portuguese family?  I suppose not have all that sun-riped, organic pepper goodness all winter and spring.  Shiver.

First for the Massa de Pimentão.  When August comes again, I’ll post step-by-step instructions.  In the meantime, you can purchase it at a Portuguese market.  If you can’t wait, it’s easy enough to make from scratch from supermarket wares.  You’ll need some sweet red peppers, which is classic.  I’ve also had success with other pepper colors and hot peppers, but the final product will have a vastly different flavor.  Core, slice, place in a colander, and cover them completely in salt.  I’m talking pounds of salt.  Allow to to sit, drain, and desiccate.  After a few days, remove the shriveled peppers and shake off the crazy excess of salt.  Grind in a food processor until it’s a paste.  I store the stuff in an old glass jar that has been run through my dishwasher’s sanitize cycle with a healthy measure of olive oil on top.  I’d imagine hot water bath canning would work well, too.  It will keep in the refrigerator for many months.  Don’t worry if the olive oil turns whitish.  That often happens in cold temperatures.  Ps. “Homestyle Portuguese Cooking” offers a detailed recipe with exact measurements on p.166.

Use the Massa on just about anything pork.  I also think it’s good on chicken and beef.  Just take out a spoonful or so and rub it on.  Remember that it’s salty stuff so you won’t need any extra salt.  If the olive oil on top gets low, add some more to cover.

Then grill, saute, or roast as you normally would.

The closest recipe to tonight’s Pork Chop dinner is written on  p.100 of “Homestyle Portuguese Cooking.”  We served ours with Arroz de Manteiga, which is Buttered Rice, on p.145 and a simple spring salad.

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