Throughout my life I’ve had the pleasure of sitting through many, many family dinners—Christmas, Easter…Sunday. During these culinary events, I’ve witnessed many young people ask how to make the traditional Portuguese dishes that were presented to us. This observation gave birth to A Mesa da Avó (the grandmother’s table) segment in each issue of Luso Life. We’ve had the pleasure of spending time with five wonderful avós who opened their doors, shared their recipe and allowed us to photograph the process (we also helped eat their delectable creations).
For Issue 006 we decided to give the ladies a break and we found an avô (grandfather) that was willing to do the cooking…and it was delicious!
Young mountain goat (cabrito) is always delicious and can be eaten at any time, but there are specific moments when it tastes better. Much like fruit tastes better when it’s in season, the Portuguese consider cabrito as “the meat of festivities” and Easter is the pinnacle the beloved cabrito’s existence.
Gastronomically speaking, Easter Sunday is very important for Catholics—basically, we go back to eating at a normal pace! Traditionally, there is a period of fasting during Lent (the 40 days beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter). In Portugal fish was the only meat eaten during that period, but that has since been reduced to eating fish only on Fridays. This practice has been maintained in almost all regions of the country. Although the best time to eat cabrito is without doubt Easter, he does get around, making appearances at weddings and many other events.
Personally, I think we can consider roasted cabrito as the true icon of Portuguese gastronomy….and don’t forget to bring a good bottle of wine to the table—it helps the cabrito taste even better.
Oven roasted goatling
4 cloves garlic
500 g parisian potatoes
2 kg goatling (aka young goat)
cut in pieces
1 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
100 ml olive oil
fresh thyme leaves
2.5 dl white wine
Mince the garlic, add the olive oil, paprika and white wine to create a paste.
Arrange the goatling in a roasting pan, rub with the garlic paste and seasoning with coarse salt and white pepper.
Add the fresh thyme and bay leaves, and allow it to marinade in a cool place for 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 200º C (400º F)
Pour the remaining white wine over the goatling, arrange the potatoes around the meat and season with salt and pepper.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour, basting occasionally during cooking.