We spent this weekend visiting mom and pop Pelletier in Dighton. In spite of Saturday’s rain we enjoyed ourselves splendidly, visiting a couple of Portuguese bakeries, a supermarket, and a restaurant called TA (Terra Nostra) in Fall River, MA.
Visiting a local bakery at noon is apparently as smart as going five minutes before closing time. Bakers bake and sell early. We did find some little pastries and a semi-soft Serra cheese that is slightly tangy and salty and excellent on sandwiches. The Portuguese are notoriously good bakers. Matt’s half Portuguese, so that means he’s twice as dangerous as me with a little flour and water. Indeed. Our makeshift microwave bread box is currently stuffed with homemade English muffins and cinnamon raisin bread.
The supermarket, Chaves, was a prime example of the local ingredients that can be found in close proximity to water, and within a community not afraid of something like a pig’s foot. My kind of people. I’d never seen whole frozen octopus at a grocery store, the live crabs made me jealous (until we bought 6 and ate them for dinner!), and the more traditional butcher cuts of meat were refreshing (and yes, fresh). The linguiça, however, stole the show. It was piled high and fresh behind the meat case and the aroma of the links filled the whole room with a spicy, smokey pigginess. Of course we bought some, and some pimenta moida (red crushed pepper sauce) which JoAnn pointed out is pretty versatile and can be used as a rub or sauce for all kinds of dishes.
I don’t know much about Portuguese food, but TA restaurant was awesome. The caldo verde (kale soup) with linguiça was one of the best soups I’ve had in a while. The light broth was infused with some of the fat drippings from the itty bitty pieces of sausage, the potatoes added body, and the kale was still a little bitter. The table favorite, though, was the carne de porco alentejana (chunks of marinated pork with cubed potatoes and little necks), incredibly tender meat served wih light, crispy potatoes in a slightly spicy dry rub. We also had lightly batter fried bacalhau (cod) with thickly sliced homemade potato chips, which was the perfect combination of textures and just a little grease.
Returning home armed with my first Portuguese ingredients and the tastes still lingering on my tongue, I needed a recipe. This week we’re trying to cook light and fast so I turned to a salad. I remember the typical restaurant salad with egg, frisée, parmesan, some bacon, and an oily or anchovy dressing. So why not linguiça, serra, egg, and roasted garlic dressing? Why not indeed. Although I was betraying the linguiça roots of being paired with potatoes, onions, and other meats, I attempted to showcase the sausage’s juicy goods by contrasting color, texture, and flavor. The result? This salad is a party in your mouth.
Next up is definitely caldo verde, then alentejana. I am hooked.
Roasted garlic dressing
Makes enough for 6 servings
1 head garlic, 1/4 inch head removed and top of each clove exposed
1 handful Italian flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and stemmed
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon pimenta moida
3 tablespoon Greek strained yogurt
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Remove 1/2 inch of the top of the garlic head and cut away the top of each clove with a paring knife to expose. Coat tops in olive oil and cover with tin foil. Roast on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove and let cool. Remove cloves. Meanwhile place all ingredients in a food processor. Add the garlic. Puree. Place in a bowl. Can store in the fridge for up to one week.
Frisée salad w/ linguiça, serra, egg
2 small heads of frisée, washed, stemmed, and dried
1 oz Serra, grated with a vegetable peeler
2 Organic eggs
1/2 chain linguiça, 1/4 inch thick slices
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 shallot, sliced thinly
Get the greens, shallot, and cheese ready in the salad bowl. Grind some black pepper. Heat some olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Bring a small pot with enough water to cover the eggs to a boil. Cook the linguiça, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Once the water is boiling, add the eggs and set the timer for 5 minutes. Fill a bowl with cold water. When done, place the eggs in the water for a couple of minutes to cool. You want the sausage to be cooling while you peel the eggs. Both should be warm but not hot when served. Peel the eggs and slice them over the greens. Add the sausage and toss with the salad dressing. Serve.