How to Cook Cacoila: A Guide to Portuguese Marinated Pork

Cacoila, a staple of Portuguese cuisine, is a delectable dish that combines the flavors of slow-cooked pork with a blend of aromatic spices. This dish, often served as a sandwich or with boiled potatoes, is a testament to the culinary traditions of Portugal. If you’re eager to recreate this flavorful dish in your own kitchen, follow this comprehensive guide that delves into the intricacies of preparing cacoila.


  • 3-5 lbs boneless pork butt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 oranges (juice only)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon or 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)


  1. Prepare the Pork: Trim excess fat from the pork and cut into 2-inch cubes. Place the pork in an oven-safe casserole with a lid.

  2. Create the Marinade: In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (garlic, orange juice, salt, paprika, black pepper, cumin, thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon/allspice, red wine, and hot pepper sauce, if using). Pour the marinade over the pork in the casserole.

  3. Marinate: Gently massage the marinade into the meat, ensuring all pieces are evenly coated. Cover the casserole and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to overnight. This extended marinating period allows the flavors to penetrate deeply into the pork.

  4. Slow Cook: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (163 degrees Celsius). Cover the casserole and place in the preheated oven. Cook for approximately 2 1/2 hours, or until the pork is tender and easily pulled apart with a fork.

  5. Check and Adjust: Periodically check the pork during cooking to ensure it’s tenderizing and the flavors are blending well. Additionally, monitor the liquid level in the casserole. If it evaporates significantly, you can add additional wine or water to prevent the pork from drying out.

  6. Shred the Pork: Once the pork is cooked, remove the casserole from the oven. Use two forks to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.

  7. Return to Marinade: Return the shredded pork to the casserole and stir to combine with the remaining marinade and juices. This step ensures that the pork is evenly flavored and moist.

  8. Serve: Serve the cacoila with your desired accompaniments, such as plain boiled potatoes, Portuguese hard rolls, or a side of your choice.


  • Pork Selection: For optimal flavor and texture, choose a pork butt with good marbling. This will help keep the meat moist during the extended cooking process.

  • Marinating Time: While the recipe suggests an 8-hour marinating period, you can marinate the pork for longer if desired. Extended marinating allows the flavors to penetrate even deeper, resulting in a more flavorful dish.

  • Cooking Temperature: Cooking cacoila at a lower temperature, such as 325 degrees Fahrenheit, helps prevent the meat from drying out and ensures even cooking throughout.

  • Liquid Level: Keep an eye on the liquid level in the casserole during cooking. If it reduces significantly, add additional wine or water to prevent the pork from becoming dry.


  • Red Wine vs. White Wine: Traditionally, cacoila is made with red wine. However, you can substitute white wine if preferred. White wine will impart a slightly different flavor profile, but it will still result in a delicious dish.

  • Spices: Feel free to adjust the spices in the marinade to suit your taste preferences. For a spicier cacoila, add more hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper.

  • Slow Cooker Method: If you don’t have an oven, you can cook cacoila in a slow cooker. Place the marinated pork in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until tender.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Sandwiches: Cacoila is commonly served as a sandwich on Portuguese rolls or bulky rolls. Add your favorite toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese.

  • Main Course: Serve cacoila as a main course with boiled potatoes, rice, or your preferred side dishes.

  • Appetizer: Shredded cacoila can be served as an appetizer on crackers or crostini.

Cacoila, a delectable Portuguese marinated pork dish, is a culinary delight that can be enjoyed in various forms. By following the steps and tips outlined in this guide, you can recreate this flavorful dish in your own kitchen and impress your family and friends with your culinary skills. Remember to experiment with different marinating times, spices, and serving options to find your perfect cacoila recipe.


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