Algarve Squid/Lulas à Algarvia
The Algarve region in the south of Portugal is renowned for guaranteed good weather, high levels of tourism but also excellent sea food, especially if one avoids restaurants serving chips with everything… This is an extremely simple recipe for small squid which brings out their natural salty taste and soft texture. Like with all squid cooking, timing is everything!
Serve with simple boiled potatoes and greens.
“Empadas” (pies) are a common snack in cafes all over Portugal and part of portuguese culinary tradition for centuries (royal chef Domingos Rodrigues dedicates 41 recipes to empadas in his “Arte de Cozinha” from 1680, the first Portuguese cookbook). Today, you are mostly likely to find them filled with chicken, roast piglet or perhaps salted cod. This is a recipe that takes advantage of the dense taste of pheasant to provide an absolutely moorish filing for this exquisite finger food. Shortcrust pastry is ideal for this as it is light enough to let the filling shine but you could experiment with puff pastry as well. Perfect as a snack, light lunch or for a picnic. Can be served hot or cold but much, much better hot out of the oven…
Given the ubiquitousness of salted cod (bacalhau) in Portuguese cuisine, this blog has admittedly few references to it so on to the task of remedying that with a classic dish from the centre of Portugal (Beiras region) – Bacalhau à Lagareiro. Lagar is the portuguese term for olive oil press and lagareiro referring to the worker of the press. This recipe, not surprisingly, is very much about putting the best quality olive oil (azeite) at the centre of the dish. Together with flavourful garlic and “punched potatoes”, this is one of those simple combinations of flavours and textures that is characteristically Portuguese. As with most bacalhau recipes the cod needs to be soaked beforehand. Soaked cod freezes well so you can soak a larger batch and freeze individual tranches.
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…