Cozido à portuguesa / Portuguese stew

Imagine a huge vat of animal parts, some identifiable as trotters and ears, others more of a knobbly, fatty mystery. Add some cabbage, carrots and boiled potatoes swimming in a murky liquid and you’ve pretty much got cozido à Portuguesa, or Portuguese stew.

It’s much loved in Portugal, especially for Sunday lunch, but I won’t be having it again if I can help it.

Given that I’m the sort of person who cuts every scrap of fat off my meat before putting it anywhere near my mouth, it’s quite remarkable that I’ve been persuaded not once, but twice to pay good money for this popular dish.

Admittedly, the first time I tried it, I did find enough lean lumps of meat on my plate to make it worthwhile and I can’t deny that the vegetables and broth were tasty.

Perhaps that’s why, when I was disappointed to find that my favourite octopus dish wasn’t on the menu, I caved in and agreed to go for the day’s special, cozido à Portuguesa.

Cozido à portuguesa / Portuguese stew
Cozido à portuguesa / Portuguese stew

I’m no expert on the way that cozido à Portuguesa is usually served but I wasn’t expecting the key ingredients to arrive on separate dishes. I since learned that this is a fairly common way of serving this dish.

On one plate, we got a mountain of fatty bones, three types of sausages, a chicken breast, two pig’s trotters some sliced ear and some chunks of other meat that could have been goat, beef or pork; or all three. The vegetables came in another dish and rice in another.

With a little bit of tentative poking, I was able to find more than enough lean meat to fill me up and Mike was quite happy to discover a rib or two hidden within the mound of flesh, fat and gristle.

Despite our best efforts, we ended up taking home enough bones and scrag ends to keep Daisy happy for a week and still left behind a pile of fat and morcela, the Portuguese version of black pudding which I think would be a bit too rich for the dog.

The recipe varies but you can find versions of this meaty Portuguese stew all over the country.

If you want to.

Personally, I’ve had my fill and will be keeping my fingers crossed that the octopus is back on the menu next time I go back to that restaurant.

Find out which Portuguese food I love in this post.

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14 Comments

  1. Can you tell us more about El Gato in Lousa, I just googled it and came up blank, thanks

  2. I think “cozido a Portuguesa” is absolutely delicious. The meats and the vegetables obtain a delicious flavour because the chouriço (and garlic etc.) is cooked together with the meats… and the vegetables are cooked in the same liquid (broth if you will) as the meats and chouriço. I am not Portuguese, but from The Netherlands and living in the USA and I’ve been to Portugal a lot. I can say that the artisanal chouriço the Portuguese make (“chouriço caseiro”, meaning “home style”…This quality is not available in the USA b.t.w.) is like no other in the world… not like the Spanish and certainly not like the Mexican. If you don’t like pigs ears or skin with lots of fat, you don’t have to eat that. Every time I have had “cozido” in a restaurant there was plenty of meat to choose from. Personally I do like the different types of blood sausage and the orange looking sausage in your picture is called “farinheira” and very tasty. You may want to look into it’s special history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farinheira

    1. Author

      Hi Annemarie, you’re obviously not alone in being a fan of cozido – it’s seems to be a very popular Sunday lunch in restaurants in my area. I’d still rather avoid it and just order something I can eat all, not just some, of.

      I have to admit that I’m not a huge sausage fan, probably due to my aversion to gristle and fatty bits, but there’s something about the flavour of chouriço that I don’t like, unless it’s flame-grilled.

      I have, however, decided after several successful experiences with good quality ‘morcela de arroz’ (blood sausage with rice) that I like it, especially when served on a bed of cooked apple.

      Farinheira can be nice, too, I agree.

  3. Hi, Julie.
    I agree with Fernanda that cozido is not a stew but more along the lines of the French pot-au-feu. I agree that it’s an acquired taste, mostly due to the various textures of the different meats, and something I did not enjoy as a child, but I had some just this week at my parents’ house and it tasted wonderful.
    So, give it another chance, perhaps in a friend’s home … who knows?

  4. Not my favourite dish either, at most I eat the chicken bits and sausages (not the morcela, or blood sausage though), but my husband usually cooks it with good bits of meat, served in the same pot and then I will eat it!

  5. Hi Julie, Cozido à Portuguesa it’s not a stew because everything it’s just boiled in water (well seasoned but just water), you don’t have to cook chopped onions, carrots, garlic, etc until golden brown before adding the meat and vegetables. And it’s quite common to serve everything on separate dishes.

    1. Author

      Thanks, Fernanda. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m not a culinary expert and it looks and translates as stew but whatever it really is, it’s still not something I’m in a hurry to try again, I’m afraid. 🙂

  6. Euch – looks awful! I had a francheschina in Porto and that wasn’t very nice either! In Portugal it’s probably best to stick to the fish.

    1. Author

      You might be right about the fish, Andrew. Although I have had a nice francesinha at the Irish Bar in Coimbra.

  7. We had this after a few drinks (!!) when we went up to in Penela just after Christmas last year. Now I’ve spent a lot of time living and working in Northern China over the years and had pretty some gruesome offerings, this is up there with the best of ’em.

    1. Author

      Thanks, Kevin -I didn’t think I’d be alone with this one. Even copious amounts of alcohol can’t disguise the fact that it’s quite revolting.

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