Vinha d’Alhos is an ancient Portuguese meat marinade based on wine (vinho) and garlic (alho) with aromatics such as bay leaves, thyme, cloves and dried chillies (piri-piri). The magic combination of red wine and garlic makes up for a truly Portuguese flavour which has travelled the word during the 15th and 16th Century “descobrimentos” and made it to India where it became the basis of the Vindaloo.
This recipe takes the traditional marinade to cook falling off the bone pork ribs and create a deep and flavourful sauce. The ribs are served with halved boiled potatoes with skin (batatas à racha) and sautéed kale.
We use kuzu, a Japanese flavourless gluten-free starch thickener which gives the sauce a rich velvety texture.
Grilled loin lamb chops bring together flavour, tenderness and texture in a delicious dish that can be served with roast or fried potatoes, rice or couscous. In Portugal, these exquisite cuts of meat are simply grilled or fried with simple seasoning to enhance the flavour of the meat. Sintra, the ultimate romantic destination to the north of Lisboa, is renowned for excellent quality lamb and high quality butchers.
As with all Portuguese gastronomy, the main objective is to showcase the freshness and quality of the main ingredients through simple flavours and cooking processes. This recipe calls on rosemary (alecrim) and lemon to gently flavour a perfectly seasoned lamb cutlet. The simplicity is deceiving as the herb is at the core of an ancient dispute with marjoram (marjoram) recounted by António José da Silva in the play “Guerras do alecrim e manjerona” (Wars of rosemary and marjoram) performed at Teatro do Bairo Alto de Lisboa in the carnival of 1737. Coincidently, the “war” is said to be associated with Sintra so one would readily speculate that the dispute was about lamb chop seasoning… Incidentally, this recipe aligns with the alecrim side… the marjoram reprise might well come soon…
Small traditional “quinta” across Portugal commonly have a rabbit hatch to supply a meat treat for the family. This guarantees high quality home-bred rabbit meat which features in a number of traditional dishes. The most famous, “cabidela”, being a wet risotto to which rabbit blood mixed with vinegar is added towards the end of the cooking. This achieves an extremely rich, nutritious and contorting one pot meal.
This recipe is a basic rabbit stew with a flavour twist provided by the sweet and complex aroma of dried figs. Rabbit has a relatively subtle flavour and the figs here add a layer of fruitiness which makes for a unique combination. As with all good stews, any left overs should be deboned and make it into small home made pies (empadas)!
“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…
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)!
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.
Not exactly a Portuguese tradition and perhaps a bit Christmassy… Still a great hot starter for a party which is easy to prepare in advance in large quantities and get ready in 15 minutes in a hot oven.
Classic one pot (well, almost one pot) hearty dish using a variety of meats, charcuterie and vegetables to create a rich broth. This dish will vary considerably depending on which part of Portugal it comes from. Each region will introduce their own sausages, chouriços, pig’s ear and trotter, chicken, blood sausage (morcela) etc. There is really no rule on what to include or leave out but cooking time for each ingredient is crucial so that the dish doesn’t turn into undifferentiated mash… This recipe is a guide on how to time the various types of ingredients.
This recipe uses a classic mix used in the sauce for roast suckling pig (leitão) made up of crushed garlic, lard and a very generous amount of black pepper. Suckling pig is a speciality of the Bairrada region in the centre of Portugal where the combination of rearing techniques, roasting skills and constant demand makes for one of the hot spots of Portuguese cuisine. The tenderness achieved by slowly roasting pork belly together with the garlic and black pepper seasoning almost achieves the unique leitão taste…