Portugal: Espetada à Madeirense

I remember learning at primary school that Natal had been discovered by the Portuguese. I thought it was Vasco de Gama, but upon reading now, I’m not entirely sure (history was never my strong point). Bartholomew Dias was another chap who did some exploring and investigating around South Africa and Natal (now known as KwaZulu Natal obviously). There is a strong Portuguese influence in Mozambique (which borders South Africa, and KZN in particular). More accurately, Mozambique was under Portuguese rule for a long time (over 4 centuries according to Wikipedia) and later it gained independence. Portuguese is Mozambique’s official language (but more about Mozambique  in October).

I’ve never been to Portugal. But, like many of the blog’s I’ve written, I would love to. Particularly I would love to do part of the Portuguese way of the Camino de Santiago – mine and my mom’s dream!

I have some Portuguese friends though – some of which I discussed in my previous blog on Indonesia. One of my other Portuguese friends, Carla, assisted me with the recipe for this cook. She gave me a few, which I will inevitably try down the line, but the one I chose was the one that most people in my family (remember how diverse their needs are) would enjoy – Espetadas. In the Madeira region in Portugal it was customary to make espetadas (chunks of meat on bay sticks/skewers) to save time while working in the fields.  Restaurants don’t typically use bay sticks, but it’s the same idea, and in most restaurants an Espetada is served hanging from a rack.

The recipe comes from a book which I don’t own, so I feel hesitant to post it up here. But it comes from a book by Mimi Jardim which I think is called “Cooking the Portuguese Way in South Africa.” Mimi is from Edenvale, and apparently hosts some epic cooking classes. Anyway, back to the recipe – it’s very simple. Garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper. And butter. Lots of butter (A Banter’s delight!). Basically you mix the ingredients together. I used the following:

  • 1kg rump from Spar – cut into cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns

I ground the garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper in my mom’s amazing Pestle and Mortar and then mixed it in with the cubes of rump. You then let that rest for a bit, then you skewer them, then you braai them. Then you lather them with butter (I used plain butter combined with mixed herbs). (I realise that I changed tenses and from first person to third, um, second person speech here, but this is what poetic licence is all about). Anyway, the Espetadas were absolutely incredible, and enjoyed by everybody. We have actually even used the rub for steak another time since I made the Espetadas – that’s how good it was! Thank you Carla for sharing.

My Uncle, Dyl, brought some Portuguese wine along too, so we really did have the whole experience. We cooked the night of the UEFA final, and while we’re not really football people, and didn’t watch the game, we were pleased to see the following day that Portugal had won! (If I had money on the score I would be cooking a lot more elaborate meals from now on!)

PicMonkey Collage



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