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…
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.
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.
This is an excellent way of using the heat from the a nice charcoal barbecue to lend a smokey flavour and crispy texture to fresh squid. This recipe is a mix between grilled squid, commonly served in skewers (espetada de lulas) and octopus salad (salada de polvo).
With barbecue season now completely established it’s time for matching a great way of cooking with delicious fresh ingredients. Monkfish Skewers are a common feature of any seaside restaurant in Portugal. They’re extremely easy to make and absolutely delicious served with a simple butter and lemon sauce. The one important thing to keep in mind with any mixed skewer is that all ingredients should be cut to more or less the same size to allow for even cooking.
Whole fish grilled over charcoal is a central focus for the 900 km of Portuguese coast. Simply prepared, seasoned with sea salt and grilled to perfection, one hardly needs anything other than a cold bottle of vinho verde! This recipe prepares the fish by opening it across the middle to allow for a larger grilled surface, hence maximising the charcoal flavour. This way of preparing fish makes it easier to grill just the right amount. As your dealing with a relatively thin piece of fish there is no danger of having a burnt skin and a raw middle! This also makes it easier to negotiate your way through the bones as they become more visible with the fish open in half.
Sea bass and other fish can be prepared in exactly the same way.
This is a simple and delicious pâté which is handy to make while you’re waiting for the bbq to get to the right temperature for grilling meat or fish. It’s relatively low maintenance and is a great addition to the summer table as a dip for bread or raw vegetables. The recipe can also be made in a hot oven but make sure you pierce the aubergine skin with a fork so they won’t burst.
Grilled squid is an extremely flexible ingredient which lends itself to a variety of combinations. This dish takes some of the flavours present in the classic “espetada de lula” (squid skewers) to form a rich and fresh sauce/salsa. Squid grills very quickly, the aim here is to give it a charcoal taste while maintaining its freshness.
The cornerstone of Portuguese coastal lifestyle. The smell of sardines grilling outdoors flavours any recollections of walks trough Bairro Alto in Lisbon, Ribeira in Porto or a small town on the coast of Alentejo.
This is one of those incredibly simple dishes which can very easily go wrong. The two main elements are the sardines themselves and the “assador” the person who grills them. In restaurants specialising in grilled fish this is a specific person, different from the chef.
The traditional season for Sardines in Portugal is July during the religious festivals. Sardines feature in everything from large banquets to fast food stalls where you eat one on a piece of bread while standing and drinking a glass of wine or sangria.
Sardines for grilling need to be absolutely fresh, medium size and pre-salted for at least 30 minutes.