Mealtime: Bifanas — Portuguese Pork Sandwiches; Green Pea and Asparagus Soup With Poached Egg | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Mealtime: Bifanas — Portuguese Pork Sandwiches; Green Pea and Asparagus Soup With Poached Egg

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Published May 17, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated May 18, 2022 at 10:01 a.m.


Bifanas: Portuguese Pork Sandwiches - ANDY BRUMBAUGH
  • Andy Brumbaugh
  • Bifanas: Portuguese Pork Sandwiches

In the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 miles off the coast of mainland Portugal, lie the Azores, an archipelago that is an autonomous region of Portugal. I knew little about the islands until my sister took a solo trip there this spring. She raved about the beauty of the place, her excursion into a lava tube, hikes up volcanic mountains, a whale watch — and the food.

One of her first meals was a bifana, a Portuguese sandwich made with thinly sliced marinated pork stacked on a soft bulky roll. The one she had was topped with caramelized onions, so that's what I based this recipe on.

Portuguese rolls, which are light and airy, are the traditional bread for bifanas. I found recipes for the rolls, but they are time- and labor-intensive, so I opted to buy them. You can find them in the bakery section at larger grocery stores; if not, ciabatta rolls would be a fine substitute.

The pork should be 1/8-inch thick at most. It's easier to slice if you freeze it and let it thaw almost all the way. If you still can't get the slices that thin, put them between two pieces of parchment paper and pound them with a mallet. 

This recipe offers opportunities for kids to help. They can measure ingredients for the marinade, crush the garlic with a garlic press and help stir the onions.

Let the meat marinade for at least a few hours and up to 24. This means you have to plan ahead to make bifanas, but it is worth it. These sandwiches would be wonderful served al fresco on a nice day; wrap them tightly and pack them in a picnic basket. 

Bifanas: Portuguese Pork Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork loin
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine (I used a dry Riesling)
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Lard or oil for frying
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

  1. Slice the pork thinly, no thicker than 1/8 inch. It is easiest if you freeze the pork first and then thaw it most of the way before slicing. Alternately, slice the meat as thin as you can, then pound it between two pieces of parchment paper.
  2. Make the marinade. In a small bowl, stir together the wine, garlic, bay leaves, vinegar, paprika and salt.
  3. Put the meat in a shallow container and pour the marinade over it. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, and up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add lard or oil. When the oil is very hot, fry the pork for about 1 minute per side, until cooked through, adding more oil if needed. Transfer the pork to a plate. Reserve the marinade.
  5. Remove the bay leaves from the marinade and add it to the pan to deglaze. Bring the liquid to a boil and allow it to reduce for about 4 to 6 minutes, until about two-thirds remain.
  6. Meanwhile, caramelize the onions by heating a separate sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and olive oil. Lower the heat to medium and cook slowly, stirring, until the onions are lightly browned and completely softened.
  7. Return the pork to the pan and coat with the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pork is heated through.

Green Pea and Asparagus Soup with Poached Egg

Green Pea and Asparagus Soup with Poached Egg - ANDY BRUMBAUGH
  • Andy Brumbaugh
  • Green Pea and Asparagus Soup with Poached Egg

If you want a soup that is bright and fresh, with a beautifully inviting color, try this vibrant pea and asparagus soup. It is inspired by a dish my sister had on her recent getaway to the Azores. The poached egg on top adds a rich creaminess that pulls the soup together. This recipe makes enough for six to eight people.

Ingredients

Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 pounds frozen peas
  • 10 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel, for garnish
  • Drizzle of olive oil, for garnish

Poached eggs

  • 1 egg per bowl of soup
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Directions:

  1. In a deep soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the asparagus, onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add the peas and water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Purée with an immersion blender until smooth (or purée in a blender, carefully, in batches). Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To poach the eggs, bring a pot of water at least 4 inches deep to boil and add the vinegar. Lower the heat to a simmer. Crack one egg at a time into a small bowl or ramekin, then drop the egg gently into the water. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon.
  6. To serve, ladle soup into a shallow bowl. Top with crumbled bacon, sliced fennel and a poached egg. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.


This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.