Slow-Cooked Spicy Portuguese Cacoila from Taste Of Home’s Slow Cooker Recipe Cards Magazine 2013

Portugal. Not a country that’s ever been on my radar or bucket list.

The most that I know about it is that I can find it by going to Spain and looking west. That’s it. Sad, huh?

Considering how much traveling I’ve done, it’s times like this that I realize how little of the world I’ve actually seen. I may have a good portion of the Middle East and a little bit of Europe covered in push pins, but the rest of my world map is wide open.

The last time I was overseas, Hubby and I meandered our way around northern Italy. It was a perfect trip for a young couple in love, but not one I’d recommend taking with a seven year-old in tow.

From what I’ve seen from perusing information about Portugal online, we might fare better there as a threesome. Considering that the entire country is roughly the size of Indiana, it’s an easy journey to get from mountains to ocean in a day’s travel.

They say that the surfing is best in Portugal. World records are broken there, including the latest one that was possibly set on Monday, an insane man riding a 100-foot wave.  Yeah, it would be fun. To watch.

Before this week I’d have had to say that I knew nothing about the food in Portugal. Taste of Home changed that. If Cacoila is a good  measure of what the Portuguese eat, I’m all for a vacation there. Soon.

The Process

I know that there are many times I’ve said a recipe is really easy. This is another of them and this time I really mean it.

Before heading to bed, you can even be in your jammies and slippers, throw a pork shoulder in a large zip top bag along with some wine, garlic, bay leaves, salt, paprika, red pepper flakes and cinnamon. Smoosh things around and put the bag in the fridge. Go to bed.

The next morning, dump the bag’s contents in the slow cooker along with a bit of water and a chopped onion (I sliced mine so it would match the long shreds of pork).

That’s it.

The Verdict

Even though I only used two teaspoons of red pepper flakes, this was way too hot for Dudette. She took one bite and pushed her plate away, which was fine with Hubby because he devoured his sandwich and was more than willing to grab hers.

We both loved this. It’s a bit reminiscent of southern pulled pork, except that it’s really not. The wine and cinnamon give the meat a distinctly international flavor. It can be served over rice or with boiled potatoes, but I went the route of the ‘fast food’ street vendors in Portugal, using tongs to put the meat between crusty, cut rolls.

It was a good choice.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Not a thing.

Slow-Cooked Spicy Portuguese Cacoila from Taste Of Home's Slow Cooker Recipe Cards Magazine 2013
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
from Taste of Home's Slow Cooker Recipe Cards Magazine 2013
Recipe type: Sandwich
Cuisine: Portuguese
Serves: 12
  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder butt roast, cut into 2-in. pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • 12 bolillos or hoagie buns, split, optional
  1. Place pork in a large resealable bag; add wine, garlic and seasonings. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Transfer pork mixture to a 5- or 6-qt. slow cooker; add onion and water. Cook, covered, on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.
  3. Skim fat. Remove bay leaves. Shred meat with two forks. If desired, serve with a slotted spoon on bolillos.


Apparently, I have a problem with the word Portuguese. I keep trying to put the e before the u, even though I know it’s not correct. I’ve tried to change them all, but if you see one of my misspelled words, please let me know, ok?

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30 Responses to Slow-Cooked Spicy Portuguese Cacoila from Taste Of Home’s Slow Cooker Recipe Cards Magazine 2013

  1. Hubby says:

    This was very good. I didn't realize it was the Portuguese pork. I wonder who it was that thought it a good meal to tackle.

  2. Curry and Comfort says:

    That photo leaps of the page. You are making me very hungry!!

  3. Mmmmm – this looks SO good :) I love the recipes like this!

  4. Patricia Taylor says:

    We touched down for refueling in Portugal about 25 years ago, and I have dreamed of going there for a visit ever since. I think it is a beautiful country.

  5. cravingsofalunatic says:

    I always think of David Leite when I think Portuguese food. I have his cookbook and love it.

    This looks fabulous. I love red pepper flakes but I usually dial them back for mini-me too. If I'm super hungry I'll "accidentally" put more on hers so I have some extra dinner.

  6. I've never been to Portugal either! My world map has very few pushpins in it. I love red pepper flakes and although Taylor doesn't mind a small hint of spice, she would probably take after Dudette on this one. :) I do like easy, or should I say efficient, recipes! Especially when I get to use my slow cooker.

  7. I've only been to Portugal once but I loved it. Never heard of this though but I love it already. What a great dish for a large group, pinning it!

  8. Kristen says:

    I am loving the slow cooker meals you have been making. I'd have to side with Dudette and dial back the pepper, but the other flavors sound fantastic. I bought my second son his very own Costco-sized red pepper flake bottle so he can add what he wants after it's on his plate. He is the only one who appreciates spicy food.

  9. Deb says:

    So happy to see a Portuguese recipe on….I'm 100% Portuguese and grew up with this! It's pronounced ca-ser-la if anyone was wondering. 😉 This recipe is pretty similar to what my mom and now I make except instead of cinnamon we use a Portuguese all spice that can be found in specialty markets or on the international aisle of any good grocery market. We also use homemade red table wine and a lot more garlic! Thanks for posting a recipe that is very dear to me and I love your blog!

    • Hi Deb! Thanks so much for dropping me a note and explaining more about Cacoila and for showing me how to pronounce it. I had no idea and was doing a very bad job of it! I'm also happy to get confirmation that the dish is so very close to authentic. We enjoyed it very much.

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  12. Ameena says:

    I haven't been to Italy…I haven't been to Portugal. Two places on my list!

    I've never had Portuguese food before…cacoila looks delicious. I noted Deb's pronunciation above so if I ever get to Portugal I'll be ready…

  13. griffinsgrub says:

    I've always been fascinated by Portugal. Maybe its because I grew up surfing (and yes, I saw your post about the 100ft wave on FB the other day, thanks for sharing that). All that coast line. And all that fresh seafood. I even took Portugese for two years in college (and no, I hardly retained any of it). I'd love to try that sandwich. Do you think cheese would benefit it and what type?

    • I wouldn't add cheese. It has so much flavor on its own, the cheese would just overwhelm that. You Texan, you. :) I'm glad you liked that video. It was amazing to watch. How cool that you've been over there. It's on my bucket list.

  14. Assunção says:

    Caçoila is a kind of pan, made ​​of clay or iron used formerly in the small villages.
    Cinnamon in traditional Portuguese cuisine, is only used in desserts such as rice pudding, for example, I do not know a single typical recipe which is used as a seasoning for meat (although I love chicken or roast turkey in the oven with lemon, rosemary and cinnamon!).
    However your recipe looks great and I'm curious to try it!

    PS – If you ever come to Portugal, I assure you that you will just love our food!

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  16. Shan says:

    Hi! I love this recipe and use it often, and is super close to what my family has always made with a few tweaks I grew up with. Cacoila (pronounced ca-ser-la like Deb said previously, with a little less accent on the r) is a Portuguese dish of the Azores islands (I believe from Pico) that made it's way to the mainland. I am of Azorean (Portuguese) heritage and live in Rhode Island in an area of New England where there is a HUGE Azorean presence (along with New Bedford, Fall River,, etc) to the level that Fall River is considered locally as a part of the Azores lol. Even if you aren't Azorian here, the food and culture influences everything here. Cacoila is made at many local diners, and is available at every feast/parade/festival and big family gathering. Marinating this is the most important part of this dish and is accurate with what I grew up on (I believe the original recipe on the TOH site was from a fellow RI'er as well). Azorians love to marinate everything with wine and garlic! Ive seen many cacoila recipes online where they skip the marinating and just toss it in the crock, and they're missing out on so much flavor! My family puts a few more cloves of garlic in (just chop it roughly or use a garlic press to make it easier for you), and throws in the juice of a small orange- Im not sure why, but it is super traditional and I think it was to tenderize the meat more in the marinade? You don't taste it really, but you can tell if it is missing. Even bottled cacoila marinade has orange in it. Spice/red pepper (or pemento muida if you can find it) is to preference. We also shred the meat MUCH more fine. Im assuming you went by the TOH site photo for reference, which isnt the author's photo but from the website when they tried to recreate it. It should be very finely shredded.. it sops up all that flavor and sits well on a bun!
    As you try more recipes, and Portuguese is SO worth it, just note Azorean Portuguese food can differ greatly from the mainland in technique or seasonings in case you get confused – ie Portuguese kale soup (sopa or caldo verde) Azorean is hearty with large chunks of potato and liguica, whereas mainland is loaded with finer cut kale and is a smoother, less spicy soup. Mainland often makes cacoila with beef because it was more readily available and its seasonings may differ… it is named after the clay pot they used to cook stews etc, as is most anything cooked in the pot. Many Portuguese recipes that have become popular in the US though, are often ones from the Azores due to the huge number of migrants to the US from the islands.

  17. Lena says:

    Hmm.. red pepper flakes…here's the secret: Hot Chopped Peppers. It is in a jar and the peppers are wet. You can order them from Gaspar's or Amaral's. Both are located in Southeastern Massachusetts. I grew up in a Portuguese community, but took for granted the wonderful food because I always got invited to my Portuguese friends house for dinner 😉

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