Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spotlight: Alcatra

The day after I came home from the hospital with my new baby, our landlord's father brought over a huge terra-cotta dish of Alcatra.  Alcatra is a very popular, local beef dish- a huge chunk/slab of beef is cooked for a very long period of time (I've heard a few days, sometimes!) with large amounts of red wine, garlic, peppercorns, and other spices.  It's on every restaurant menu here and is eaten frequently, at people's homes and at festivals, etc.  He brought it over at 10am and it was warm.  He told us to just cook it on low on the stove-top until dinnertime.  So we put a lid on it and did just that.  I've read online that it can also be baked in the oven for a very long time. 

He gave us a loaf of bread, too.  I've had Alcatra in restaurants here a few times, and sometimes, it is served with plain, boiled potatoes.  Once, we had a fish alcatra (it might have been eel... we're still unsure about that, lol) and they gave us bread.  They showed us how to do it- put chunks of bread on your plate, and top it with the meat and juices from the terra-cotta cookware.  So, this is what we did with the Alcatra from our landlord's parents.  (First picture above shows the meat over the bread.  Below is just the bread). 
I have never made Alcatra myself, but I found a few recipes online if you are interested.  Here is one, and here is another.  If you want to Google recipes yourself, look up "Portuguese Alcatra"; otherwise, your search might only yield info about "Alcatraz".  :)  Maybe you should throw "Azores" into your search as well, because according to Wiki, the word Alcatra means something else in mainland Portugal. 

We had way more Alcatra on hand than we could eat in a reasonable amount of time, so we froze two large portions of it for later.  I'm thinking Alcatra beef stew this fall!  :)

I just love our landlord and his parents- a few days after the Alcatra, he brought over a HUGE, still-warm loaf of sweet, delicious, flaky, buttery Massa Sovada- my FAVE Portuguese bread- it is soooo good!  This one had hints of cinnamon and even cardamom.  Their neighbor makes it in her house- using an old-fashioned wood burning oven (they look like this from the outside- all of the older houses here (and some new ones) have the huge, tell-tale chimeny).  We ate the bread too fast to get pictures this time around.  ;)
Alcatra in its terra-cotta cooking vessel.
**This post and photos are property of**/


LadyJayPee said...

Wow! I would love to have an oven like that! It sounds so delicious.

Linda said...

Gosh that beef looks so good! LOL on "alcatraz" :) Did yours have any bacon in it, that you could detect?

That bread - oh my.

What A Dish! said...

I don't think they actually use bacon here- but they do have Presunto, which is like Prosciutto. I think the bacon recipes are Americanized?

Anonymous said...

At this moment I am enjoying the leftovers of my wife's, here nickname is Guida, Alcatra. I picked her up while I was in the USAF stationed in Terceira Island, Azores (Acores), Portugal. Before we left the Azores, I told her that she would probably not find the clay pots to make the Alcatra. She brought three, broke one a couple years ago. She was making the Alcatra last Friday, the smell was great. I recognized it as soon as I walked into the house from work.
Well, I'm finishing my Alcatra at work now. Eh bon!
Happily married for 32 years, and counting.

What a Dish! said...

Anonymous, thanks for your comments! I need to get an Alcatra pot before i leave here and make some myself.