Despite Portugal’s long Atlantic coast and fame for producing excellent fish and seafood dishes, meat is an essential part of Portuguese gastronomy and has traditionally been the basis of many dishes in inland, mountainous regions, particularly in the north of the country. Each region has a long list of specialities and here are a few:
Arroz de Cabidela (Giblet rice): This chicken and rice dish differs from others in that it is cooked in a mixture of the chicken’s blood and vinegar. Not for the faint-hearted!
Carne de Porco à Alentejana (Alentejo pork): An unusual combination of shellfish and pork. The pork cubes are fried after marinating in ‘massa de pimentão’ (a paste made of crushed red peppers), garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and white wine for about four hours. The clams are then cooked with the meat and garnished with lots of coriander.
Cozido à Portuguesa (Portuguese stew): If you're looking for a traditional dish, this is it! Made with several traditional smoked meats (smoked sausage, spare ribs, pig's trotters, smoked ham, salted pork fat, bacon), boiled carrots, potatoes, cabbage and turnip, this dish is one of the national favourites.
Ensopado de Borrego (Lamb stew): A tasty lamb stew with onions, garlic, coriander and various spices, served with slices of bread that are previously immersed in the stew broth.
Leitão à Bairrada (Bairrada suckling pig): This roasted Bairrada suckling pig is greatly appreciated throughout the country and considered quite a delicacy. Part of the secret behind the unique taste is held to lie in the piglet’s breed (it must have been born and bred in the Bairrada region) and diet. The other part of the secret lies in the tasty marinade of garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, lard, bay leaves and olive oil. It really is delicious and merits a stop in the Bairrada region if you are travelling through central Portugal.