All vegetarians can skip this post because my favourite Portuguese dishes are all meaty. In general, I think Portuguese cuisine is not so well known abroad, but it’s so rich and tasty! Do you know that even Christmas dishes are totally different in the North and in the South?
Nº 1 “Leitão”
But let’s come back to my favourite dishes. Number one goes to “leitão” or roasted suckling pig in plain English.
It’s a piglet fed on its mother’s milk between the ages of two and six weeks. The roasted meat from this pig is crispy and tender. It’s served with a spicy sauce. And usually a sparkling wine accompanies the dish.
In Portugal, everybody knows “leitão da Mealhada”. Mealhada is a town in Portugal, more a less between Porto and Lisbon, that doesn’t have, to my mind, anything interesting to see but has tons of restaurants that serve “leitão”. Usually every family has their preferred restaurant, we go to “Pedro dos Leitões”.
Usually you are asked how much grams of meat you will order. 250 g. per person is alright, if you see that it is very tasty, you can always order more afterwards. Also, you will be asked if you would like homemade potatoes chips and salads, we take them always. As well as a bottle of the house sparkling wine. Before the main dish, some appetisers always come. Although you are not obliged to take them, if you do eat them, you will pay for them.
Nº 2 “Posta mirandesa”
My second favourite dish is called “posta mirandesa”. It’s like an Argentinian beef steak. The meat comes from the Mirandesa cows, a breed from my most favourite but still little touristic compared to other Portuguese regions, the Trás-os-Montes region. It’s grilled on a wooden fire and you will be asked if you would like it raw, medium-raw or well cooked. I personally love it raw. The best place to try “posta” is, of course, the Trás-os-Montes region. When we go there, we usually go or to “O Careto”, that is not far from Bragança, the capital of the Trás-os-Montes region, or to “A Lareira” that is in the Mogadouro town.
Nº 3 “Alheira”
The third place goes to “alheira”. It’s kind of fowl sausage that uses the insides of pork, but the meat inside is other than a pork meat. The history of this dish takes you back to the XV century, when the Jewish population was purged from Portugal. Many of them went to the mountainous Trás-os-Montes region. One way they showed that they had fully converted to Catholicism was by eating those pork sausages that weren’t filled with any of the pork’s meat. So the best “alheira” can be found in the Trás-os-Montes region, but you can get this dish almost in any traditional restaurant, or you can buy it in any supermarket and fry it at home. Or it’s even better when your friend from Trás-os-Montes region brings you his mother’s homemade “alheiras”, you put them into the freezer and unfreeze and cook them when you want to eat them.