Mixing rice and broccoli never struck me as a natural combination until I saw it as a side dish for meat dishes in Portuguese restaurants in Rio de Janeiro. Classic places like Nova Capela in Rio’s Lapa district serve it with a delicious roast kid. This is a simple and quick version which keeps the freshness of the broccoli by adding them just before the rice is cooked.
Empadas are small savoury pies that adorn the vitrines of cafés and snack bars throughout Portugal. Typically eaten as a snack they are also a favourite of those just grabbing a quick light lunch; I’m not sure about how many Portuguese fall in that category though… Certainly a must for picnics, these small flavourful pies are an easy to make finger food which can be filled with a variety of stewed meat or fish. This recipe uses leftovers from the chicken in beer recipe (this can be replaced by any boned stewed chicken) and pre rolled puff pastry (shortcrust or bread dough also works well). Empadas can be eaten warm or cold and kept for a couple of days in the fridge thought it is the kind of food that tends to disappear fairly quickly…
This is a common domestic recipe which produces a tasty and hearty chicken stew often served with boiled white rice or potato purée. Using jointed chicken with pieces on the bone adds to the taste but you can use breast pieces though only cook them for 15 minutes in the sauce after browned. Needless to say that you should use the best chicken you can afford for best results. A potato and celeriac purée complements the sweetness of this dish perfectly. Almost as good as the dish itself are the leftovers of boned chicken pieces which can be used to make excellent chicken pies (empadas de frango)!
Portuguese figs are a real treat in the summer when you can pick them off the tree alongside any country path… Different varieties excel in either taste, juiciness or sweetness. Figs are common all across Portugal and the Algarve region is particularly known for producing the best. This noble fruit (they say Louis XIV kept 700 fig trees in Versailles to supply the royal table) is extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of salads to add sweetness and looks! The dried variety used for this recipe is easily obtained in most supermarkets but the quality of the figs is crucial for this to work. Here, a basic flavoured syrup is added to dried figs, making them rich with moisture and producing an excellent fig flavoured syrup. The combination of lemon peel and cinnamon is widely used in Portuguese deserts and produces a delicately spiced flavour. Figs in syrup are ideal as a topping for a special fruit salad or ice-cream, as a dessert garnish or just on their own!
Courgettes are a relatively recent addition to the Portuguese pantry . This salad turns this rather bland vegetable into a flavourful dish with with the help of a bbq, good quality olive oil, garlic and parsley. This is a great salad to accompany grilled meat or fish and can be served hot or cold.
A small round version of the popular pão com chouriço found in bakeries across Portugal… This is easy finger food, great for a party or picnic and delicious hot or cold. The richness of the taste will greatly depend on the quality of the chorizo.