Years ago, friends of ours brought us back a cataplana from their trip to Portugal. A cataplana is both the name of the cooking vessel and the dish that is made in it. The vessel is a clam-shaped copper pot with a hinge. If you don’t have a cataplana, you can use a sturdy pot or Dutch oven with a lid. The dish is a shellfish and pork stew. There are many versions. Here’s mine. Since my cataplana isn’t very big, this recipe is for two, or maybe four with enough good crusty bread and a salad.
8 small live clams, like littlenecks or Maine mahoganies
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ lb. calamari, cut into round strips
½ yellow onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper chopped
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 good canned tomatoes, crushed by hand with their juices
A pinch of saffron
A pinch of smoked paprika
2 thin slices of prosciutto, chopped fine
8 sliced rounds of chourico, linguica, or Spanish chorizo
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup water
Set the cataplana or pot over low heat and put in the oil. Add the chopped bell pepper and onion, and stir. You want to make a sofrito as you do for a paella, so keep the heat low and stir from time to time. You don’t want to brown the vegetables, just soften them. In 10 minutes or so add the prosciutto and chourico and stir for a minute or 2.
Add the crushed tomato, wine and water and bring to a boil. Add the oregano, saffron and paprika. Add the calamari, shrimp and clams, cover tightly and cook at medium high heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until the clams have opened.
Discard any clams that don’t open. Serve with crusty bread and a salad and a dry white wine.