Portuguese Primer


Recently, I was lucky enough to work on an assignment for fresh magazine about Portuguese cooking.  I interviewed Ana Ortins, an expert on the cuisine of Portugal.

My first experience with Portuguese specialties was in the early 90’s.  I was managing Turner Fisheries in the Westin Hotel, Boston and my PM bus staff was principally Portuguese.  How I miss the treats that my Nando and Freddie would deliver: Chorizo in Crusty Rolls, Kale Soup, Fish with Spicy Pepper and Paprika Sauce, Sweet Rice Pudding and Trutas (sweet potato pastries).

Anyway back to the fresh recipes, the finished article included recipes for Broa (yeast leavened corn bread), Spicy Clams with Chorizo and Onions, Tuna Steaks and Potatoes with Spicy Pepper Sauce and Bolo de Ceraveja (beer cake).

Working on this article really changed my opinion of paprika, a humble culinary staple.  The Portuguese deftly use paprika in what seems like almost every dish and the result is an extra layer of flavor that really makes things, well, more special and more tasty.  Add some paprika to sauteed vegetables or onto fried eggs and you will see what I mean.  Be sure to check the date on your paprika, any spices over a year old should be swapped out for fresher ones.

Contemporay cooking in Portugal is based on historic peasant foods.  The Italians have pasta and polenta; the Portuguese have rice and potatoes.  Kale and other vegetables take center stage.  Paprika and garlic spiked sausages and well as an abundance of seafood round out the menu.  In typical Mediterranean fashion, fruit is a preferred dessert, but tradtional sweets are loved as well.

If you would like to read the article, click here.  Hannaford recently launched a new (and very cool) feature on their website.  You can virtually flip through a color pdf. of fresh magazine.  Give it a try!  I hope you’ll think the technology is as terrific as I do!

If you give these recipes a whirl and find that you want more Portuguese food on your table, check out Ana’s website or her book.

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