I realise I’ve been somewhat disparaging of Portuguese food lately so I’m hoping to redeem myself by sharing something special with you. Allow me to introduce my favourite Portuguese dish, polvo à lagareiro com batata a murro, which is octopus served with baby baked potatoes and lashings of olive oil and tastes absolutely delicious.
If you’ve never tried octopus before, don’t be put off by the suckers; you can scrape them off if you don’t fancy them, at least that’s what I do. The actual flesh is lovely and tender and has a slightly sweet, delicate flavour. The combination of octopus and batatas a murros (punched potatoes) works very well. These are no ordinary spuds; breaking the skin and allowing the olive oil to soak the insides makes them taste fantastic.
How to cook Polvo à Lagareiro
There are various recipes around but essentially, you cook the octopus with some sliced onion by boiling it or using a pressure cooker.
Meanwhile, bake some new potatoes with their skins on.
When they’re cooked, punch the potatoes (gently!) to break the skin and arrange them in a dish around the cooked octopus.
Add several cloves of garlic and a bay leaf, possibly some extra sliced onion and sliced green pepper if you fancy it.
Pour copious amounts of olive oil over everything and cook in the oven for half an hour.
Personally, I’d rather let the experts handle the cooking side of things so I only ever have it in restaurants. My local restaurant,A Grelha in Vila Nova de Poiares does a very nice version, as does O Gato in Lousã (but it’s not always on the menu, unfortunately) and A Taberna in Coimbra serves delicious octopus, even though it isn’t served with batatas a murros.
What’s your favourite Portuguese dish? Let me know in the comments.
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