Monday, November 9, 2009

Portuguese Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

I recently bought a new cookbook called The New Portuguese Table. I bought it because I have absolutely zero experience with Portuguese food. When I think of European cuisine, Portuguese is not first in line. Sadly enough, it may not even be in line most of the time. Instead it was just a large question mark in my head. But now I'm beginning to appreciate the culinary niche that Portugal fills within the food pantheon. So for dinner last night I made my first Portuguese meal.

Portuguese Roast Chicken

Above you see frango assado com batatas (aka roast chicken with potatoes). A chicken is rubbed with massa de pimentao forte (aka strong or "amped-up" red pepper paste), a mixture of sweet and smoked paprika, red wine, lots of garlic, bay leaf, tomato paste, cilantro, parsley, and some other spices. This was also the first time I have rubbed a chicken under the skin with flavoring. The paste by itself is very strong, but on the roasted chicken it mellowed and added some strong spice flavors. The potatoes had a chance to crisp up on the edges, but you can use them to sop up the natural juices the chicken lost while roasting. Portuguese cooking reminds me in some ways of rustic Italian, but with different flavor combinations based on Portugal's proximity to the Mediterranean and Africa. Like many cultures in Europe they have their own specialty meats and cheeses that often make cameo appearances in their cooking. I was very impressed by what I tasted and what I saw in the book and I can't wait to try another recipe.

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