Is anyone else getting excited for Christmas this week? We know we are! As you might know, Portugal is known for having delicious and very diverse traditional cuisine. Now mix that with our love to gather with family and friends (covid letting) to celebrate Christmas, and you’ll get a feast for days!
Let’s dive in and see which dishes and desserts that enrich our tempting Christmas table:
On Christmas Eve
Typically, the most common dish served in Portugal on Christmas Eve is Bacalhau Cozido, consisting of boiled salted cod, potatoes, cabbage and hard-boiled eggs. It’s a pretty simple and humbling yet very delicious dish and it’s a dish synonymous with Christmas here.
In Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro Province, Polvo à Transmontana (Roasted Octopus) with roasted potatoes or Migas is the king meal of Christmas day. Historically, this dish originates from Galiza in Spain, which used to be the “capital” of octopus fishing.
In Alentejo, Frango Assado (roasted chicken) used to be the most typical dish
on Christmas Eve, and although it still is with some families, codfish has been gaining popularity in Alentejo. In Algarve, however, it is still very common to have roasted chicken as their Christmas eve dinner.
Although it started in the Minho region, a lot of places eat “Roupa Velha” nowadays on Christmas day. It’s a very modest dish made from leftover codfish from the Christmas eve meal, in which the codfish is shredded (removing the fish bones and skin), the potatoes and cabbage is shredded as well and added to an onion and garlic stew. Mix olive oil and add a boiled egg.
Like Bacalhau Cozido, Lombo de Porco Assado (roasted pork loin) is perhaps one of the most standard dishes served on Christmas day. It can be found in almost every table of any household. It’s served either with rice or roasted potatoes.
Cabrito Assado (roasted lamb) with roasted potatoes is most typically served in the North and Beira Interior, but some households in the center of Portugal serve it as well, especially if you have a big Christmas party planned with family and friends.
Perú Assado (roasted turkey) is also part of the Christmas table in some regions. Although not as prominent as other dishes, this one is still one of the most popular here and whose tradition actually came from the United States.
In Alentejo and Algarve, you can find stew chicken or roasted turkey as part of their Christmas meal. Although not exclusively, as it is also typical to find roasted lamb or giblets.
Christmas would not be complete without our sweet desserts! If you are on a diet during the holidays, you might as well forget about it for a few days because you will not be able to resist the temptation! Let’s see what’s on the table:
One of our most beloved treats is the “Filhoses”, consisting of small deep-fried dough covered in sugar and cinnamon. Although each region has its own variation of this treat, it’s still a part of pretty much every Christmas table.
Rabanadas are kinda similar to filhoses, except it’s made with stale bread that is soaked in milk or wine and in egg and it’s then fried. The sweet finish touch comes with sugar and cinnamon coats.
Bolo-rei (King’s cake) is pretty much mandatory in every dessert table here! Bolo-rei is a round fruit cake with a hole in the middle. It is made with sweet dough, lemon and orange zest Most importantly, it is filled and covered with plenty of dried and crystallized fruit. It’s one of those cakes that either you like it or you don’t!
Yes, we also have a Queen’s cake. Bolo Rainha uses the same sweet dough as Bolo rei, but instead of crystallized fruit, it features dried fruit, mainly nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. Perfect for those who love bolo-rei but hate the crystallized fruit.
Of course, we cannot forget Arroz Doce (Sweet rice). A sweet dessert consisting of slowly cooked rice in sweet milk aromatized with an orange or lemon peel and decorated with cinnamon.
As a country with a sweet tooth folk, we naturally have many MANY more other sweet desserts served on Christmas day, each special and delicious in its own way. Some are very specific from region to region and even from household to household.
And that’s what makes our Christmas traditions so magical, each family has its own variation of dishes and desserts. What would be your perfect Christmas combo?
We hope this article was helpful, any questions you might have feel free to contact us. We are always available at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any assistance ;)
The Savvy Cat Team wishes you and your loved ones a wonderful Christmas 🎄 filled with love ❤️ and happiness ✨ and that the New Year 🥂 brings everyone good fortune, health and lots lots of love! 🎉💛