This dish is a specialty of the province of Alentejo. It is named after the copper cooking vessel with a hinged lid and shaped like a clamshell called a cataplana. We don’t have this special pan, but we’ve found that a covered saucepan works very well. We transfer the “cataplana” to a pretty terra-cotta cazuela and serve it with rice as a sort of Portuguese paella.
If the sausage is not in casings, break it up into chunks with your fingers and fry it in oil until lightly browned. If it is in casings, prick the sausages with a fork and
Heat the olive oil and sausage fat in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the paprika and pepper flakes; cook a few more minutes. Add the sausage and remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper and clams. Simmer until somewhat thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper but be careful with the salt because the clams will be steamed in the sauce and add salt too.
Just before serving, heat the sauce to boiling. Add the clams, cover the pan, and steam over medium heat until they open. Sprinkle with a little parsley and serve with steamed rice.
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.