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)!
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.
After all the curing, smoking and 4 months of hanging our ham was finally ready to play!
Still surprisingly moist, next time it will hang 6 to 8 months. People making home made cure hams in Portugal often leave them hanging from one year to the next. If the ham is too moist it becomes harder to cut thinly which is essential for this kind of ham. A ham holder together with a a special ham knife can facilitate the process considerably. As with all meat, the diet of the animal is key to taste and texture of the final product and maybe next time we will be able to experiment in a more controlled environment and perhaps with the famous acorn diet…
The ham was smooth in texture with a light smoky taste. It is reassuring to have an entire ham to cut from to serve for impromptu gatherings and snacks. The fat makes for an excellent addition to stews and roasts.
More from the ham project next year…
In Brazil they called them batatas à Portuguesa though I did have to ask what these were… Perhaps this is an example of cultural stereotyping. I did order them and as they were set on the table I immediately recognised them as my grandmother’s fries. Cut by hand (not on a chopping board) by holding the potato in the left hand and cutting towards your thumb with a sharp paring knife with the right hand (invert for left-handed I guess). My grandmother used to make them on a large shallow frying pan over gas with vegetable oil. I can never get that to work quite right (I cook on an Aga, you see…). So here’s my procedure when using a deep-fryer.