Massa de pimentão, Portugal's versatile red bell pepper paste, lends a vibrant color and flavor to rustic dishes like entrecosto no forno (braised spareribs and potatoes) and porco à Alentejana (braised pork and clams). Though supermarkets in the Portuguese province of Alentejo sell bottled versions of the popular condiment, serious home cooks still prepare it from scratch. The process is long (the salted peppers are aged for up to two weeks to concentrate their flavors), but it is rewarding. In the SAVEUR test kitchen, we prepared Alentejo dishes with both a store-bought paste and a homemade one. In our recipe, the peppers take several days to cure, but the resulting paste is bright and intense. It is also is well-seasoned, so be judicious when adding salt to dishes that include it.
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