Chouriço Assado com Aguardente

Written by  //  April 16, 2011  //  latest  //  1 Comment

I’m not sure when I first discovered the gastronomy of a well crafted sausage.

Growing up in Sweden, sausages were an important part of the staple diet but they were mainly of the bland variety. I think I gave up on those sausages long before I left Sweden, some years ago now. That’s not to say that the occasional Hot Dog hasn’t slipped through in a momentary lapse of weakness! But this post is not about your average sausage or hot dog.

We travelled to visit my sister-in-law in Portugal. It was early January and we left our warm Aussie summer far behind. In Portugal it was winter and the water was freezing in the buckets overnight. The pot belly stove was burning wood faster than we could fill it up. Getting out of bed in the morning became a challenge. Our precautionary action of mailing an electric blanket in advance was serving us well. Without it we would have been stiff and frigid!   Coffee and duty free helped us through as the house was not yet equipped for this winter temperature. They say it was the coldest winter in Portugal for 15 years.

Anyway back to the topic at hand, sausages! After almost a week of Emma’s great cooking we made our way to the big smoke. Coimbra is an hour and a bit away and is one of the oldest cities in Portugal. As a former capital of Portugal (1139 to about 1260) it also has archeological remains back to when it was the Roman town of Aeminium. The tragic love story of Pedro and Inês also played out in Coimbra.

What seemed to be aimlessly, we walked around the top of the old town looking for a place where we could fit in. After an hour or two it was getting cold so The Sisters parked themselves at “Cafe Santa Cruz” right in the center of the “baixa”, the low part of town. Cafe Santa Cruz is a former auxiliary chapel of a 16th century cathedral and must be one of the most grand cafes around.(check it out here)

I went on, exploring for a suitable place to eat. About hour later I was back at the cafe reporting over a couple very good Super Bock draft beers. We decided upon a Spanish restaurant called “La Fiesta”.

The exterior of La Fiesta gives little away but once inside we are warmly greeted by Carlos. We are starving as the cold has got us hungry like nothing else. Carlos gives us friendly menu advice and soon there were plenty of plates hitting the table in no particular order; Azeitonas (olives) Pica Pau de Porco (very special ham sandwich) Cebola Panada (crumbed onions) Caracois (little Snails) Camarão com Alho (garlic prawns) Cogumelos com Alho (garlic Mushrooms) Torrada Pao Centeio (Toasted rye bread) and then to the hero dish of the night the Chouriço Assado com Aguardente!

Flambéed at the table the chouriço is burning strong in Aguardente. Once the firewater has burned off, a charred sausage, almost black in colour, is ready to eat. The content of the sausage is bursting out of its skin, almost falling apart. The flavour is deep, smoky, textured and tender, all at the same time. This sausage works on so many levels that most meat dishes never come close to. I feel warm, elated, happy and so absolutely thrilled with our choice of restaurant – Wow, I am in sausage heaven with a shot of Aguardente to boot! I had never heard of this Portuguese spirit prior to tonight. Aguardente is a Portuguese grape skin-based liquor. It is a bit of whiskey and calvados and vodka all at once! Strong, rich, flavoursome, serving an undeniable punch. What a pleasure to make its acquaintance. How has the world overlooked this clear spirit or is it just me? One of these ain’t going to be enough, bring the bottle back, please!

Later, Carlos joins us at the table for a quick drink before he leaves us for a party. His brother continues to look after us from here on, as our feast continues. More red wine, more food and then coffee and desserts. This night will never be forgotten. The night of the black sausage and firewater at Carlos’ place, La Fiesta.

La Fiesta, Rua do Carmo, 54 loja 4, 3000-064 Coimbra, Tel 2398 21246

One Comment on "Chouriço Assado com Aguardente"

  1. Sarah October 22, 2012 at 8:54 pm · Reply

    We saw sausage cooked like this at a friends recently, though he used pure alcohol rather than a spirit. Very tasty!

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