Portuguese food

The food of Portugal is rich, & has a depth of intensity just like its people.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Braised Pork & Chickpeas - Porco com Grao de Bico

I sometimes sit around trying to deciding what I can make for dinner, like many of you I'm sure. Having this blog makes it twice as hard as I don't want to show case things I've made before,  I want to show the best of what Portuguese food has to offer.
So during the week I make lots of different type of food Italian, French, Middle eastern & lots of Asian dishes, but since I started this blog, I try to cook at least 2 Portuguese meals a week.

The food I grew up with, is like most peasant food, the taste is unbelievably good but visually it can sometimes look unappealing especially when you want to take a photo.
Since starting this blog I've learnt to tweak a recipe here & there or totally modernise it, to the Australian palette.
A few are totally original where I've kept it totally authentic, others I've had to reduce the amount of oil or reduce the cooking time, changing cooking methods to bring out the best of the ingredients or omit ingredients that I dislike such as pigs ears, pigs feet, intestines.

This dish falls into the changing category, traditionally this dish has pigs ears, the meat is boiled with aromatics & potatoes.
I changed the dish by using pork scotch as it requires less cooking time & needs to just be lightly braised. The marbling in the meat gives it a rich flavour. I've also added capsicum paste to add depth  giving it a robust flavour, as well as making it visually appealing.
It has all the ingredients the Portuguese love pork & chickpeas.

Serves 6- 8 people

  • 1.3kg scotch pork
  • 2 tab capsicum paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 375g dry chickpeas
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 chorizo, sliced in half then cut into chunks
  • 1 red capsicum, cut into chunks
  • 1 tea smokey paprika
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 tab parsley, chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tab salt
  • 2 tab parsley chopped extra for garnish

1. Cut the meat into cubes, then add the capsicum paste, garlic, stir the ingredients until well combined in a bowl adding the wine at the end. Allow the meat to marinate overnight.
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl, then cover with double the amount of water & soak over night.

2. Drain the chickpeas & place them into a pot covering them in water, then bring to the boil cooking them till there tender, then drain. Put them aside till needed.
In a deep casserole pot, heat oil on a medium heat, add the onions, garlic cook for 3 min then adding the chorizo & cook till the onion is soft & the chorizo brown.Then add the capsicum cook a further 1 min.
Add the paprika cook for 1min then add the tomatoes, white wine, parsley, bay leaves, water, chickpeas, salt. Cook on medium heat for 20min.

3. In a fry pan add more oil to fry pan, heat the pan on high heat then add the pork in small batches, cook for 4 min or until the pork is browned on all sides. Place the pork in bowl until all the meat has been fried.

4. Place all the pork into the stewed chickpeas & simmer on med/high for 10- 12min, sprinkle 1 tab of chopped parsley on top.
Serve the dish with boiled potatoes.

  • Make sure that when you cook the chickpeas no salt is added to the beans otherwise the beans won't become soft
  • Check to make sure the capsicum is soft before you add the pork
  • Don't over cook the pork other wise it will become dry & tough, so after 10 minutes check to see if the meat is cooked. It's tender enough that it doesn't need a long cooking time

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shopping Trip to Petersham

Once every 3 months I take a pilgrimage to Petersham, the home of Portuguese food, restaurants & cafes.
My trip usually starts at Charlie's deli where I pick up imported food from Portugal. I'm a massive believer in buying local & do so very often, but I just can't resist buying good imported food that  can't be found here in Australia, especially when it brings back memories of my visits to Portugal over the years.
Then I go to the pastry shops & pick up a few custard tarts & other Portuguese delicacies.
On this day I bought dried codfish that's been de boned (sacrilege to codfish purists), capsicum paste, calamari with ink, peach fruit juice & passion fruit soft drink called Sumol.
I always have a giggle when I buy this drink, I reminisce about the time when I was 8 & was in Portugal for the first time.
We arrived in Lisbon Portugal that day, my father decided to show us Portugal so we disembarked in Lisbon & caught a taxi ( which in those days was cheap) to the south of Portugal, a 5- 6 hour trip in those days, with the new highway it only takes 3 today.
On the way to the Algarve (the south) we stopped at a road side cafe to have some lunch.
My father asked my younger sister & I if we'd like to drink a Sumol (small) & my sister & I said in unison "no, we want a large."

After a day of shopping I decided to use some of these goodies & had a casual dinner.

I bought this coconut cake (Pao de Deus, which translated means bread of God).
My sister in law once told me how much she missed eating this cake or bread so when I saw that it was available at the bakery I snapped it up. It's a bit like a sweet bun with coconut on top. I think it's Portugal's version of a finger bun (sweet bun with pink icing on top).
My sister in law said she used to buy hers at school just as I'm sure a lot of you may have bought your finger bun at.

I bought this doughnut for me at La Patisserie. When I was in Portugal I honestly become addicted to these, they are called Bola de Berlim which when translated means ball of Berlin.
Unfortunately you can't get them exactly like they are in Portugal.
The Portuguese version has a thick yellow custard, delicious. This one featured, unfortunately can't compare to the original.

 These are what you get in Portugal. This photo is not from my private collection,I found this photo on the net.

As the weather is warming up here I decided to make us a simple, no fuss dinner.
Delicious garlicky chorizo.

Just a plain omelet made with fried garlic & parsley

 Prosciutto (Prosunto) & Italian sopressa

Most Portuguese have a garden where they grow there own fruit & vegetables.
At the moment were growing tomatoes, rocket & several herbs.

Charlie's Deli
37 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham
Ph: 9560 4037

La Patisserie
45 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham
02 9569 1107

Friday, November 19, 2010

Octopus with Potatoes - Polvo Lagareiro

I think octopus is one of those foods you either love or hate (maybe squirm at).
In Australia as in most western countries,octopus is as foreign & unknown to the Australian palette as Vegemite would be to the Portuguese.
When I was travelling around Portugal, octopus was everywhere & is much loved by the Portuguese.
When I was in Portugal, I had a memorable dish called polvo lagareiro, it was so delicious that I had to try & find the recipe & recreate it.
We found this nice small cafe/restaurant in the middle of Lisbon, it looked like nothing special, in fact it seemed a little bit touristy. Which are the type of places I stay well clear of.That old saying of you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover was definitely true in this situation. 

Braising the octopus makes it really really tender.I've heard & read people say that octopus is quite difficult to cook,you need to add a cork to tenderise it or you have to freeze it,then cook it, as fresh is too difficult to work with, but they all couldn't be further from the truth.
The truth is, all that's needed is a bit of TLC.

Lagareiro is a a style of cooking that's usually used on seafood,the dish is baked in the oven with flavors & then is grilled or BBQ  then drizzled with large amounts of olive oil.
I think this style of cooking is similar to the french style on confit.
I've modernised the dish slightly, & have used less olive oil to dress the dish.
If you've never tried octopus then I encourage you to try it.It's a dish that can be put in a roasting pan or pot & braised slowly with any ingredients you fancy. It's my version of a pot roast.

  • 2 kg large whole octopus
  • 4 cups olive oil
  • 2 cups whits wine
  • 1 bunch parsley chopped
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 large potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 tab salt

1. Clean the octopus by cutting the tentacles into pieces, then remove the eyes.

2. In a large deep baking dish, lay all the octopus on the bottom of the dish, then pour the olive oil, the white wine, bay leaves, half the parsley & salt onto the octopus, cover with foil.
Bake in a medium oven 170 degrees for 45 min.

3. After 45min remove the octopus from the liquid, leaving it to one side.
Make sure the octopus is tender, if not cook a further 20 min or until the octopus is tender.
Add the potatoes to the liquid & bake for 30 min, uncovered or till the potatoes are tender.

4. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a fry pan on medium heat, add add a bit of olive oil to a fry pan.
Once the oil is hot add the octopus & fry the octopus on both sides till they are golden brown & crispy.

5. Once the potatoes are cooked, sprinkle the rest of  the chopped parsley over the potatoes.  Once the octopus is fried, assemble the dish.
Put 3 pieces of potatoes on a plate the add the octopus placing it on top of the potatoes.
Pour the liquid from the baking dish on top of the octopus & serve.
Serve the dish with either a green salad or cooked green beans.

  • If you find the liquid is going dry add 1/2 a cup of water to the dish
  • You can either pan fry the octopus or BBQ the pieces. 

This is the octopus dish I had in the cafe/restaurant in Portugal. Check out the amount of oil.
The octopus was beautifully tender.