What’s for dinner?

There’s more to the Portuguese cuisine than chicken piri piri, bifana and grilled sardines. Way more. Next time you’re wondering what to have for dinner, go to a local restaurant and try one of these nine typically Portuguese dishes. 

(Spoiler: there’ll be loads of pork and seafood included in the comidas below).

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine September 2017

 

Caldo verde

Originally from north of Portugal, the Minho province to be precise, this ‘green broth’ is as easy as it gets. The basic ingredients are water, potatoes, kale (hence the green colour), olive oil and salt. Many people also add onions or garlic, and having a pork sausage in it is almost mandatory in some places. Caldo verde is best eaten with a piece of bread to dip. Comfort food to the max.

Picture below by Mateus Hidalgo

 

Feijoada

Also hugely popular in Cape Verde and Mozambique, and even considered Brazil’s national dish, this bean stew (‘feijão’ means beans in Portuguese) is originally Portuguese. Served with rice, the stew consists of beans -usually white beans in northwest Portugal, red beans in the northeast and black beans in the rest of the country and overseas-, other vegetables and meat. Feijoada often includes pork, beef and chorizo sausage, but can be made in a veggie or vegan version (pictured below) as well.

 

Caracóis

In Portugal, snail season usually lasts from April to June and is advertised with the words ‘há caracóis’ written on signs outside local restaurants. Portuguese snails are smaller than their French counterparts and are best with buttered bread and a beer. They should be sucked out of their shells, though in most restaurants you’ll be served a toothpick as well. Not near a shop or restaurant that sells caracóis? Search your garden for the slimy creatures and cook them yourself.

Picture by Dudva

 

Arroz de marisco

The Spanish have their paella, the Italian their risotto. The Portuguese, however, go for arroz de marisco, which literally translates as ‘seafood rice’. This dish, which always includes tomato and garlic, can be made with shrimps, clams, mussels, crabs, cockles, lobster and other types of seafood. (Another popular version is arroz de tamboril, monkfish rice). It was elected one of the seven gastronomic wonders of Portugal in 2011, which means arroz de marisco is officially considered to ‘represent traditional Portuguese values’, whatever that may mean.

Picture by Adrião

 

Cataplana

A cataplana is made in a cataplana (two clam shaped vessels hinged together at one end with side claps to seal it shut, see intro picture). In the old days, Algarvian fishermen would take these cataplanas on fishing trips, already filled with olive oil, onion, garlic and vegetables, and use them to cook their fresh catch. Like the Moroccan tajine, steam, juices and flavours stay in during the cooking process. In the Algarve, seafood cataplana is a popular classic (go to page 15 if you want to try this out), while in the Alentejo, they prefer a version with pork & clams.

 

Bacalhau

Although cod isn’t originally from Portugal, bacalhaumost certainly is. The Portuguese are obsessed with dried and salted codfish and even have a nickname for it: fiel amigo (faithful friend). The legend goes that there are 365 Portuguese bacalhau recipes, one for each day of the year (although other sources claim bacalhau can be made in at least 1001 different ways). Two of the most popular ones are bacalhau à brás, which includes eggs and potatoes mixed with shredded cod, and bacalhau com natas, which is made with cream in more of a lasagne-style.

 

Leitão

This little piggy… ended up on a spit. Vegetarians, stop reading now. Leitão means ‘suckling pig’, so yes, that’s a sweet baby piggy of about a month old you’ll be eating. It’s usually advertised as leitão assado, which means the suckling pig is spit-roasted over a wood fire, and continually basted with a mix of salt, pepper, garlic and pig fat, which leads to a crispy skin and tender meat. The Bairrada region, especially the town of Mealhada, is allegedly the best place to this dish, which is often served at weddings and other celebrations. Like leitão? Make sure to also taste porco preto.

Picture by Adriao

 

Cozido à Portuguesa

Take literally any part of a pig (yes, that includes the ears and trotters) put it in a stewpot, mix with some beef or chicken, some cabbage, other vegetables and potatoes, add some more meat in the shape of smoked sausages, et voilà, there’s your cozido à Portuguesa. Considered part of Portuguese heritage, each region has its own local variation of this one-pot dinner. All versions are very meaty. Other words that describe cozido à Portuguesa: hearty, simple, rustic.

Picture by Uxbona

 

Carne de porco à alentejana

Clams and pork? Yes, indeed! Carne de porco à alentejana is Portugal’s answer to surf & turf. It combines stewed pork meat with clams, potatoes and coriander. Connoisseurs rave about the taste of this mixture and claim the secret lies in marinating the meat for at least four hours before cooking and only adding the clams at the very end. Although the name might lead you to think it’s from the Alentejo, this dish actually originates from the Algarve. Algarvian cooks called it ‘carne de porco à alentejana’ to indicate it was made with superior pork meat from the Alentejo region. In the old days, Alentejo pigs were fed with acorns, whereas the Algarvian pigs got fish scraps.

Picture by by Rui Ornelas

 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine September 2017

Posted in Features.