Recipe: Cook our classic Portuguese suppers this weekend
- Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis
Like many of you reading this, I’ve been taking comfort in cooking and baking during lockdown. At the peak of the first national shutdown last spring I set myself a challenge – cooking dishes from a different country every week (mainly because I’d exhausted the options on Netflix).
It was, I thought, a great way to flex my culinary muscles, introduce the kids to new flavours and ingredients and, to be frank, stave off boredom!
Our gastronomic travels so far have taken us to Korea, Australia (the joys of hedgehog slice), France and even Hawaii where we discovered a new family favourite – poco loco. Essentially that’s a freshly ground beef burger served over rice and smothered in gravy. What’s not to love?
As I type we’re working our way through Portugal. The flavours of the southern Med and North Africa really get my tastebuds tingling and it’s this kind of food I’d rather eat than anything else.
Plates and bowls that speak of sunshine.
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My last visit to Portugal was a memorable girls’ trip to the remarkable city of Lisbon – a melting pot of cultures, with a strong coffee and cake culture to rival even Vienna, and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
It’s the holiday where:
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I was so scared of the height at the top of the Elvador de Santa Justa I stuck myself to the side of the lift and got mistaken for its operator.
My friends and I accidentally started a queue for the tram to Belem, gathering a long line of tourists in the process.
I ‘drove’ a tram.
We drank free glasses of Port outside of a bar, before being serenaded by a guitarist over platters of charcuterie and bread. Bliss.
We sampled every single cake in the counter of a café and spent hours eating them al fresco while people watching.
We accidentally gate crashed a family party at a small bistro in gorgeous Sintra, but were welcomed with open arms for dinner by the owners.
Today I’m sharing with you two of the tastiest things I’ve cooked on this week’s Portuguese journey. They’re the kind of recipes that cross seasons, being perfect cosy comforters in the depths of winter, but just as at home eaten in the garden on a warm day with a chilled glass of vino. Both can be scaled up to feed a crowd when restrictions allow.
The arroz de pato is a simple country dish from northern Portugal that bursts with flavour despite its relatively short ingredient list. The resulting stock is gorgeous with noodles or reduced further down with a little cream or butter into a sauce for meat or pasta.
Bacalhau is ubiquitous in Portugal. It might look like a tough flip-flop at first sight, but once soaked, rendered down and cooked, the brackish fish brings so much depth and flavour to any plate of food. In the recipe on these pages it’s cooked in the very traditional style, with fried potatoes and eggs. A great alternative for brunch.
Enjoy experimenting. And follow me on Instagram (Charliejarv) to see where my kitchen’s jetting off to next.
Arroz de pato
1 whole duck (about 2kg)
2 small onions, peeled and halved
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, halved
A few sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1 whole chorizo, cut into rounds
150g lardons or thick cut bacon, chopped
Freshly ground pepper
300g risotto rice
Ideally make this the day before you want to eat it.
Place the duck, onions, carrot, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, chorizo and bacon or lardons in a large pan that will comfortably fit the duck with room to spare. I used a pasta pan. Cover the ingredients with water, allowing about an inch of water over the top. Place on a lid, bring to the boil, then simmer for three hours. Take off the heat and allow to cool. Strain the liquid and place it back in the pan on a high heat, reducing by half. Pour into a bowl and pop in the fridge.
Discard the bacon (although you could crisp it up and use in a pasta dish) carrot, herbs, onion and garlic. Keep the chorizo and place in the fridge. Remove the tender meat from the duck, discarding the skin and bones. Shred it and pop in the fridge.
Remove the fat from the top of the saved duck stock and use a couple of tablespoons of it to lightly fry the risotto rice in a large pan. Fry for two minutes, then pour in enough stock to cover the rice by an inch. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes on a medium to low heat. Add more stock if it looks like it’s drying out too much and hasn’t cooked yet. What you’re looking for is tender rice, and for all the stock to be absorbed.
Stir through some freshly ground black pepper.
Layer half the rice into a medium casserole or heatproof dish. Sprinkle the shredded duck over evenly, then top with the remaining rice and lay the reserved chorizo on top. Pop under the grill or into a hot oven (about 210C) until the chorizo begins to sizzle, then serve straight away with a fresh salad and crusty bread.
We like to pour some of the stock into a gravy boat and drizzle it over the rice at the table. Whatever you do, don’t get rid of it. The flavoursome liquid is delicious on its own or can be frozen to use later for a soup, sauce or casserole.
Bacalhau a bras
400g prepared salt cod cut into bite sized pieces (or cure your own by covering boned, skinned fillets in sea salt for 30 minutes, washing off and drying), cut into bite sized pieces
600g potatoes, cut into thin chips
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 large eggs, beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
Parsley, chopped to serve
Oil for frying
Cover the base of a heavy-bottomed casserole or frying pan with oil. Heat the oil and add the potatoes. Cook on a medium heat with a lid on (checking occasionally) until they begin to soften, then remove the lid and fry on a medium to high heat until they are golden and cooked through. Remove to kitchen paper with a slotted spoon. Fry the onion and garlic in the same pan on a low heat with a lid until soft but not golden. When the onions are soft, add the salt cod (if you bought it you should have soaked it in water or milk to soften and remove the residual salt). Cook until the cod breaks up and flakes into the onion. Bring the potatoes back to the pan and cook for two minutes. Now add the eggs and stir through until cooked. You should have a creamy dish of potatoes and flakes of fish bound in the egg.
Add black pepper to taste then plate up and sprinkle with parsley. I like to serve this with a tomato salad and large toasted croutons rubbed with garlic and olive oil.
And to drink
Forget gin and tonic. White port spritzers are on the up, and go brilliantly with either of these dishes. Simply add 115ml tonic water (I like Fevertree elderflower and the Sekforde prickly pear and fig) to 50ml white port with lashings of ice and a slice of orange. My favourite white port is the Kopke brand, which opens out with orange blossom, almond and light candied citrus notes.