Alcatra is a typical dish from Terceira Island (one of nine of Açores archipelago), it has probably been made since 1450, the time the island was populated.
About this recipe
Its origin is other typical dish from Beiras, a region in Portugal mainland – Chanfana – brought by colonos when they went to Terceira Island.
Although the name of the dish is the designation of a noble part of bovine meat, Alcatra is made using less noble pieces of meat that have bones. Only rich people eat Alcatra meat, farmers used what they could afford, meat with bones.
But the way it is cooked turns this lesser noble meat into a delicious dish, so it became very popular and now Terceirenses (people from Terceira Island) always make Alcatra in religious festivals (Páscoa e Espírito Santo) and whenever they want to gather family and friends.
This dish is cooked on a non-glazed ceramic pot in wood fired ovens. Its slow cooking makes a wonderful meal for which the Island is known.
Usually served with Massa Sovada (traditional bread from Açores) or milk bread and the combination is perfect! A tradicional dish full of flavour and history.
If you don’t have a non-glazed ceramic pot (gives a caracteristic flavour) you may use some other ceramic pot they can be used in a stove or wood fired oven.
Level 2 – easy
3 to 4 hours (300-400°C / 570-750°F)
- Neck: 0,5kg;
- Shin: 0,5kg;
- Round (front): 0,5kg;
- Onions: 2 or 3 large, sliced;
- Smoked Bacon: 125g;
- Allspice: about 15 berries;
- Cinnamon: 1 stick;
- Garlic: 1 head;
- Cloves: for spiking meat pieces;
- Salt, ideally salt flower or sea salt;
- Vinager: 1 table spoon;
- White wine (good): 250ml + some to add throughout the cooking
- Lard: about 1 or 2 tablespoons.
- Start by lighting and heating the oven. Once the fire is out you should have a big bed of embers, so the heat maintains for the time the cooking lasts;
- Prepare the meat, cutting it in large pieces;
- Spread the lard on the pot;
- Place the garlic heat cut in half and the cinnamon stick in the center;
- Cover the bottom with sliced onions, then place the meat pieces with the spices and smoke bacon, finish with a layer of sliced onions;
- Shower with vinager, wine and water until cover the meat;
- Cover the pot with aluminium foil (2 or 3 layers);
- Place the pot in the oven. You should check it every hour to ensure it still has plenty of liquid, if necessary add wine and water. When the meat on the top is pink you should turn it around. The cooking will be ready when the meat very tender and the sauce is dark (3 to 4 hours later).
Alcatra is usually served with Massa Sovada (traditional bread from Açores) or milk bread and the combination is perfect. Some people serve Alcatra with white rice or boiled potatoes.
This recipe was kindly shared by Sara Loureiro from @happylifeinthekitchen.
Thank you Sara!