Archive for the ‘Techniques and Tricks’ Category
Quince is the thing to look out for when you begin to feel those long sunsets at the end of the summer. This rather acidic, not exactly good looking fruit grows in many places around the world but is often unappreciated. For the Portuguese this is pure seasonal gold! We rush to the local markets and grab the best fruit at the best price and at the right time! Quince, marmelos in Portuguese, are the quintessencial fruit for preserves – marmelada, which became the english marmelade. The word marmelada first appeared in writing by the pen of the Portuguese bard Gil Vicente in 1521. Don’t be fooled by the story that Mary Queen of Scots, who used to eat marmelada when feeling low (who wouldn’t?), invented the word marmelada through her “Marie est malade” (Mary is sick)! In any case, this post is not about marmelada but an alternative way of preparing this delicious fruit which, I guarantee, will become the best friend of your Autumn Sunday roasts.
Autumn in Portugal brings lots of goods, just when you think the plentiful summer has come to an end. With the colourful harvest of the vineyards arrive the chestnuts and the magustos, open air festivities celebrating the new wine with chestnuts roasted on a bonfire. Used as compliments to roast meats or as key ingredients in soups long before the potato was introduced from the new world, the chestnut is now a delicacy usually appreciated after a meal. This is the simplest and perhaps the most rewarding way of cooking chestnuts. While traditional roast chestnuts bring out a crispy and fluffy texture, boiling them brings out their unique sweet and nutty flavour.
Read about São Martinho, the chestnut day par excellence!
The pungent aroma of garlic makes its way into most Portuguese dishes. From thin raw slices to slow fried minced pieces, this keystone of Southern European cuisine is remarkably versatile in its use. This recipe takes garlic in its most sweet and nutty character to flavour a delicate creamy soup. The recipe is inspired by 18th century Portuguese techniques which provide substance and body to broths by using ground almonds. The ground almonds not only thicken the broth but provide extra flavour. Chia seeds are included as an optional ingredient of their superfood status and to add consistence and texture to the soup. This is a quick and simple yet sophisticated soup you can prepare while making the rest of your meal.
The archetypal Portuguese wet rice, flavoured by a rich prawn stock is a must in any coastal restaurant. The capacity for producing a perfect arroz de camarão can make or break a chef’s reputation.
As with most prawn and shrimp dishes, the secret is to extract as much flavour as possible from the shells and heads. To cook with shelled shrimp meat is no more than a allusive reference to the unique taste of this remarkable seafood. Frozen at sea prawns are the most practical way of guaranteeing good results as sourcing fresh prawns is usually rather tricky. This recipe achieves its richness and flavour through the preparation of a stock used to cook the rice. The same stock can be used as a basis for a prawn velouté soup (creme de camarão).
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.
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)!