A Taste Of Portugal

Portugal – Piri Piri chicken

The first day of my Euro 2012 food adventure features Portugal, who suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Germany tonight.

We had a great holiday in Portugal in 2006.

The beach at Albufeira

We got off to a sad start to the holiday, at least in football terms. We headed out to Portugal on the day of England’s doomed quarter-final – against Portugal, as luck would have it.

As we flew over the Channel, the pre-match buildup began. Somewhere over France, Rooney got himself sent off and Cristiano Ronaldo passed into legend as the latest pantomime villain. As we passed over Spain, the game finished in deadlock and went into extra time.

And as we waited for our baggage to appear on the carousel at the airport we could clearly see the Portugese security guards in a little booth with a small television going crazy as David Beckham slipped and ballooned his penalty so high that the pilot of the next plane out to Faro had to swerve to avoid it.

The courtesy coach stopped at all the other hotels in the Algarve before ours. In each village, there were people waving the Portugese flag at us and smiling and laughing. What a friendly bunch the Portugese are, to be sure. And what a long two hours that ride was.

We got over that disappointment as the week progressed though. The Portugese do genuinely seem to love the British and vice versa – came back with plenty of happy memories.

So, today I’m cooking

These are the ingredients :

Ingredients - too much chicken for two people, obviously

I went for Hot Piri Piri Flakes as I couldn’t find any Hot Chilli Flakes. I also went for a large pack of chicken breasts so I could do half for tomorrow’s Italian recipe.

12pm – Prepare marinade. Wife pops head round to remind me not to grate the lemon pith with the lemon rind. There’s a difference, apparently. Can’t see the harm myself. Its all lemony goodness, isn’t it? Well, if she doesn’t rind then I won’t take the pith.

12.30 – Marinade done. Fingers smell of lemon and chilli. Eyes stinging a bit. Resist temptation to wipe eyes with chilli hands. You only do THAT once, believe me. Or, as in my case, three or four times. Five, tops.

And wait.

In the meantime let me tell you about a superb Portugese cafe I visited last week in Bristol. Its called something like “A Taste Of Portugal” and its in St Nicholas’ Market.

They only serve about four different dishes but they all look and smell wonderful. I knew I was making the piri piri chicken today so I didn’t want to order that – yeah, I WAS afraid mine wouldn’t measure up, thank you for asking.

I decided to go for Feijoada, a lovely dish of Brazilian origin made with pork and beans, served with rice and a can of a Portugese soft drink called Sumol. I went for the Passion Fruit flavour.

Pure Portugese soul food. And a portion so large even I had difficulty finishing it. But I did. I heard one chap apologise as he took back his only half-empty plate – “I DID like it, it was just a little too much at lunchtime”. Wuss. Although he had a point, I didn’t feel like eating again for a while. Going back there to sample the meatballs next week.

17:45 – Half-time with the Netherlands surprisingly a goal down against Denmark. Time to start the actual cooking. For the accompaniments, I’m going to go for sweet potato wedges and a green salad with tomatoes and chopped onion (without the olive oil accompaniment, the merits of which I have yet to be convinced of).

18:00 – Wedges in the oven in a shallow pan with salt and thyme. An invention of my lovely wife Sally, who is a far better cook than I will ever be, but annoyingly doesn’t like cooking much.

18:05 – OK, chicken just gone under the grill. Smells lovely but have I put too much lemon in in and not enough chilli? Nervous now …

18:42 – Starting to look like a final product

19:00 – Done! Served up – looks quite nice.

Tasted as nice as it looks

Well, this was pronounced a success. It was a bit dry for our tastes perhaps, but next time some kind of salsa may improve this. Have to be better than previous attempts at salsa though, which always turn out on the watery side.

Okay, one nation down, fifteen to go. Tomorrow it’s Italy – and no, I won’t be cooking pasta or eating a takeaway pizza.




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