Featured Recipes: Portuguese Traditions
This month's featured recipes are authentic and timeless meals that found their way from the sea straight to the Portuguese table. The cuisine of Portugal is typically hearty and satisfying, the perfect comfort food if you’ve been eating the same old soup or chili all winter long and want to try something new!
Polvo á Lagareiro
This lovely oven-roasted octopus recipe will surely transport and impress your dinner guests! The preparation method comes from a sweet friend and experienced home cook named Susana, and it reminds me of the warm hospitality I found in Porto around a similar homecooked meal.
800 g (almost 2 lb) cleaned octopus
1 onion, whole
4-5 cloves of chopped garlic
bunch of chopped coriander (a.k.a. cilantro, depending on where you’re from)
2 bay leaves
small roasting potatoes, cleaned with skin on
plenty of olive oil
salt to taste
First you cook the octopus in a pressure cooker with just a bit of water (about 1 cup) for 15 to 20 minutes. Add an onion and DON'T put any salt or else it will become hard!
Meanwhile, you roast the small whole, unpeeled potatoes in the oven, sprinkled with salt.
When the potatoes are soft, take them out and let them cool just enough so you can touch them, and then punch the suckers (we call this "batatas a murro", which translates literally to punched potatoes). The idea is to break them a little without tearing them apart, so they can absorb what you'll put on them next.
Then, you take a deep roasting tray or deep clay vessel and arrange the boiled octopus in the middle with the punched potatoes around it. Season generously with chopped garlic, a couple of bay leaves, chopped coriander and A LOT of olive oil (really, a lot, almost covering the octopus and potatoes). Put the tray in the oven at 400°F until it becomes golden and the flesh of the octopus is mouthwateringly tender (about 30 minutes).
Bacalhau à Braz
As we mentioned last month, one of the many things to love about Portugal is the numerous ways you can enjoy the national favorite fish: cod. This recipe for one of the most popular preparations, Codfish Brás Style, was supplied by Eduardo, a Portuguese artist and foodie who I am sure has never met a stranger.
6 eggs, beaten
3 onions thinly sliced
1 lb potatoes in matchstick-size
1 lb salt codfish, soaked
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Black Portuguese Olives to give taste
Salt and pepper
To prepare this amazing meal, first boil the cod, then remove the skin and bones, shredding as much of the flesh as possible.
Fry the potatoes until lightly golden and reserve.
In a big pan, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
Add the shredded cod and mix well. Then add potatoes and eggs, after seasoning with salt and pepper.
As soon as the eggs are cooked but still moist, transfer to a serving dish.
Sprinkle with parsley and garnish with olives. Serve to your friends and family hot.
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