Sunday, September 9, 2012

We're on a Search for Portuguese Specialties in Provincetown Restaurants

Provincetown has a tremendous Portuguese heritage, with many of the early sailors and fishermen here having been recruited by Yankee sea captains who sailed to Portugal and the Azores in search of skilled crews willing to leave their homeland, and often their families, to fish in the rich waters off the shores of North America. They worked very hard in the early fishing industry, often spending months at sea, fishing the Grand Banks off the southeast shores of Newfoundland. There the cold waters of the Labrador Current merged with the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream in relatively shallow depths, creating an upwelling of nutrients that turned these waters into some of the world's richest fishing grounds. Cod were found in great abundance, along with haddock and swordfish, making some of those captains quite wealthy, and after several seasons many of the Portuguese fishermen they employed had saved up enough money to send for their families to come and live in Provincetown.
One of the strongest links to this Portuguese heritage is the foods that were served in the homes of those early fishermen, often humble peasant dishes from recipes handed down by their ancestors; simple foods that evoked the flavors of their homeland. Over the next several weeks this blog will take us around the town to a number of restaurants where we'll find dishes based on those recipes and flavors. We'll start at the Lobster Pot with their Pork and Clams Osso Bucco, one of my all-time favorite meals.

A pork shank or two are chopped into manageable chunks that will fit in the pot, where it's slowly simmered in fish and veal stocks, along with linguica (say leen-gwee-suh; a mildly spicy Portuguese sausage,) tomatoes, onions and a few mushrooms. In the last few minutes of cooking, littleneck clams are dropped into the pot, and when they open, their liquor adds another dimension of flavor to this wonderful stew, which is then poured over a bowl of hearty Sardinian cous cous and garnished with a sprig of fresh herbs. Every Portuguese family has at least a couple of recipes that combine pork with clams, perhaps because these were fairly inexpensive sources of protein, readily available, not to mention that they taste so good together. In fact, this dish is a YearRounder's Best Bite.
This is such a substantial dish that I've never finished it in the restaurant, but have always taken some home with me for another meal. It's served with a good sized salad of mixed greens and the Lobster Pot's homemade salad dressings, along with a bread basket that always includes a bit of their wonderful pumpkin bread. Of course, part of the reason I save some of this dinner for another day is to make sure that I have room for dessert, because there are many choices at The Pot, and all are homemade. Enjoy!

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