Pickled pork – Carne Vinho e Alhos in evening light

I have a rather wonderful old cook book – World Cookery. It has nearly 600 densely packed pages with very few illustrations and the recipes do indeed come from all over the world. It has a foreword from Andre Simon but I can find no credits for the sources of any of the thousands of recipes inside. They are arranged by country and I suspect the publisher originally collected the recipes by contacting each embassy. And then, I fondly imagine, the task was deputed to the ambassadors’ wives who interviewed their local contacts or wrote down the favourite recipes of the embassy cooks. Some of these recipes are really intriguing and to me are absolutely new tastes, including this one which is in the Caribbean section but has Portuguese origins. It sounded particularly good especially as both my husband and I love vinegary tastes, and it has quickly become an absolute favourite.

The recipes as published are very minimal so I have adapted this a little and here it is:

Carne Vinho e Alhos (Fried Pickled Pork)

  • 500g pork belly slices
  • 1 head garlic
  • bunch of herbs, parsley, chives, fennel including seed heads if available
  • white wine vinegar or mixture of wine and wine vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper

Cut the pork into 1″ cubes layer in a deep bowl with the chopped herbs and black pepper. Cut the head of garlic in half crossways and push in anong the pork pieces.

Pour over vinegar to cover. Put a small saucer or similar on top of the meat and weigh down if necessary to keep the meat covered by the vinegar.

Put in the fridge and leave for at least three days, although will keep for at least a week.

Drain the pork on a kitchen towel and then fry in its own fat until crisp.

Photo notes: Shooting food in failing light

We were eating the pork for supper tonight and I needed to take a photograph of it and as the days are getting shorter it was almost dark when it was ready. I used my new Nikon D90 and set the iso to 1000, fitted the 50mm lens and shot it at F3.5mm for 1/5th of a second, so it was pretty dark. I love the saturated colours produced as a result of this and it’s virtually noise free!

It is one of the most wonderful things about digital photography – the ability to create beautiful images when it is almost too dark to see your subject. It was possbible on film but as the light went the exposure meter became increasingly unreliable and the number of brackets for each shot rose. On film you couldn’t pretend very effectively that it was still day when it wasn’t – it was best to go with the flow and make it look like evening, and then your image was in the hands of the printers who would probably want to brighten it and ‘find’ detail in the darker areas. The result in the final printed magazine could be horrible – nothing like the subtle, atmospheric image you had created. Photographers learned to love the grain in fast films, and to work with it – but art directors weren’t always so keen and often wanted the impossible.

Now it seems that all things are possible. Every new crop of cameras that comes out now seems to be improving the handling of noise (the digital equivalent of film grain), and most DSLRs with their large sensors produce images at up to iso400 and often beyond where the noise is imperceptible, and even some compact cameras make a pretty good stab at it.

These pictures and several more from the series are available for license from thePictureKitchen

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s an intriguing recipe. Thanks for posting it.

    I’m interested to see how you deal with the darker days. I live near Seattle, Washington and we’re far enough north that, once we pass the fall equinox, the days get dark quickly. And our fall and winter days are often so overcast that it might as well be dusk even at noon.

    So I have a real challenge trying to take any pictures of food that I cook. There is not enough room–nor patience–in our kitchen for me to set up umbrellas and light stands and so forth.

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  2. Wizzy says:

    What a surprise! This is now a little known recipe even in Trinidad as there are very few people of full blooded Portuguese descent. My mom is 3rd generation Trinidadian Portuguese and I remember this quite fondly. The herbs you used are different but I am sure it was no less delicious.

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  3. Delighted that this found a response, and a confirmation of more or less authenticity! I would love to know which herbs your mom used.
    It’s also a very useful recipe as the pork keeps for ages in the fridge in the vinegar and can quickly be prepared for unexpected guests – and belly pork is not expensive!

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  4. Marija says:

    Very interesting. I think I’ll give this recipe a try.

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  5. Jo-Anne says:

    Just posted your blog on our Calvinadage (Garlic Pork) Facebook page! And we have recipes on our site too. 🙂 Thanks for the great pix and the World Cookery page too! Garlic pork is now sold commercially by a few caterers in T&T! Happy Christ-mas!

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