Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Portuguese Celebration Sopas

Tilly was born in Portugal and immigrated to the USA as a toddler.  The Portuguese Holy Ghost celebrations were a part of my childhood.  Going to the "Portuguey" hall and waiting in line for the chance to sit down and be served family style, the fantastic feast prepared by the ladies of the society was the high light of labor day weekend.  Tilly made her own version and I remember her proudly telling anyone who would listen that it was pretty much the only thing I would eat when I was 2 years old.  Unfortunately no written family recipes exist. ......
 I adapted the recipe from several I found on the internet. Did some memory checks from what my mom remembers of her grandmothers technique…Mom is not a cook so keep that in mind. I made some technique changes based on what I know about braising meat.

Ingredient list:
2 tbsp veg oil, 4 lb chuck roast, salt, pepper, 1 onion chopped, 4 cloves garlic chopped, 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 4 bay leaves, ½ tsp coriander seed, 1tsp whole allspice, 1 tsp whole cloves,1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 4 cups water, 2cups beef stock, ½ cup tomato puree, 1 head of cabbage sliced in quarters, 2 stalks of celery, 3 large potatoes peeled and sliced in half, 4 sprigs of mint, 1 loaf stale French bread.

In a large dutch oven (Le Creuset) add the oil get the pan hot but not smoking. Have the meat at room temp for an hour then dry well with paper towel and salt and pepper generously. Sear the meat on all sides…total time about 8-10 minutes. Turn down the heat if it gets too hot. Then remove the roast and put it on a plate. Turn pan to medium Now add chopped onion and garlic and saute til soft. Add the beef stock and deglaze the pan a bit. Then add the roast back in the pan add celery whole, make a cheesecloth ball with the whole cloves, coriander and all spice and throw it in the pot. Add the water enough to just touch the top of the roast but not over. Add Worcestershire, tomato puree, bay leaf, cumin. Simmer for 2-4 hours until the meat is tender. Add more water now and then as needed…if you want you can replace water with stock too.

When meat is tender take it out and put it on a plate, cover w foil. Skim the fat off the top of the pot. Add the potato and cabbage. Cook half hour or so until potato and cabbage are tender.

I trim the fat off the meat , slice and put it on a platter. Take the cabbage and potato and place on another platter. Get a Big bowl and slice up the French bread in chunks add fresh mint. Using slotted spoon take out the spice ball and bay leaf. Pour hot broth over the bread. Add a few more mint sprigs on top. I served it in large pasta bowls as a deconstructed soup. I like to add the bits of meat and veggies then pour ladles of the broth and bread on top. This is a really delicious meal….the spices flavor the chuck roast in a really surprising way…. Very yummy.

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