Taxi for Rosie – as she learns a new recipe on the way home from Portugal
Rosie transforms a humble woodie into a Portuguese delight
Ihad an hour journey by taxi from where I was staying in Portugal to Faro airport and I wasn’t looking forward to it because I had quite serious back pain. I certainly didn’t feel like making polite conversation, but I was reassured by number one son.
“He’s a lovely bloke,” Dave told me. “You’ll like him, and he speaks good English.”
My driver wanted to practise his extremely good English, apparently, because he didn’t stop talking. It turned out that he was an aspiring cook, so the conversation turned to food and we’d swapped quite a few recipes before the Faro control tower appeared in the near distance. This is one of them, but I’ve substituted pigeon for chicken. As we all know, pigeon meat is more like steak than chicken, but I used chicken stock and it works very well.
Of course, some of the ‘souvenirs’ I brought home were food-based, so I used Portuguese garlic, olive oil and the most amazing oregano I’ve ever tried. Sold in bunches, it is far superior to the stuff you can buy in jars. I was told that it grows wild, so it’s harvested by hand and then air-dried – don’t know if that’s true, or not, but it doesn’t matter because the flavour is wonderfully intense and aromatic. Usually, I advocate using fresh herbs whenever possible, but this dried variety is superb. You’ll have to make do with the stuff from Tesco, unless you can get to the Algarve – or Greece, where it grows on the mountainsides – and so will I, once I’ve used it all. I couldn’t force any more stuff into my suitcase, or I’d have bought a year’s supply.
Anyway, please try out this take on a Portuguese rice dish – it’s ‘boa alimentação’ – ‘good to eat’ – you’ll notice I learned the important words!
Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pan. Fry onion gently for a few minutes, until tender. Then the garlic and fry for one minute. Add the pigeon breast and cook for a further two minutes. Chopped tomatoes, oregano, and seasoning go in next. Add the rice and swish it around so that it’s coated. Finally, pour in the hot stock, cover and simmer for 15-20 mins. Check it after 10 minutes and if it looks too dry add a little boiling water. Stir it in gently so that you don’t break the rice grain. Serve with flat bread.
Serve with flat bread.
2. Oregano, olive oil, garlic and honey – edible souvenirs.
1. Olive oil, onion, garlic, pigeon, tomatoes, oregano, rice.
3. Fry onion until tender.
9. Almost all stock absorbed.
4. Add garlic and pigeon breast.
7. Pour in the stock.
8. Cover and simmer.
6. Add rice and coat with the mixture.
5. Chopped tomatoes, oregano and seasoning.