If you're going to the Alentejo, you must try the typical dishes of the region. Here you will find the typical food that you must try before your stay is over:
This typical Alentejo bread, in the past, was a national secret, but over the years, it became known outside the country due to having won several international awards, and in 2021, it was even considered the best bread in the world. The original recipe for this bread is almost a secret, because it varies depending on where in Alentejo it is produced, but the quality is so high everywhere that it is almost impossible to say which is the best or to notice any difference between them.
This Bacalhau Dourado was created in the first pousada in the country in 1947 in Elvas by Jacinta do Carmo Bucho. This inn was where gave place to a secret meeting between delegations of the Portuguese and Spanish governments, that had not previously warned about it. Pressed by the presence of both delegations, Jacinta took what she had in the kitchen and created this dish, and it was a total success. Because it was yellow in color, the Spaniards named it dourado, resulting in the name it has today. The secret to its impeccable flavor is to eat it right after preparation.
There are several typical sausages in Alentejo, and there are many varieties of Black Pig, such as Black Pig Chorizo, Black Pig Paiola, Black Pig Sausage, among others.
Açorda Alentejana is a typical dish from Alentejo, as the name suggests. The term "açorda" comes from the Arabic language and means "bread crumbled and soaked". This dish arrived in the Iberian Peninsula with the arrival of the Muslims and is still today the reference dish of the Alentejo because it allows the use of hard bread, cut into slices or cubes.
Migas are another traditional dish of the Alentejo region, consisting of bread porridge served as an accompaniment to pork. Like açorda, the bread must be hard for the recipe to maintain its texture and consistency.
Alentejo gazpacho is best eaten in the summer because of its freshness. This famous soup is not crushed, unlike the Spanish one, and is also differentiated by its colorful appearance and texture.
Lamb Stew is a tradition associated with Easter and the Spring Equinox, which diverged from the Arabic açorda. This dish consists of lamb meat, served over slices of bread and/or accompanied by boiled potatoes. It is essential to soak the bread in the meat broth to provide the Alentejo experience.
There are several desserts typical of this region that you should try, such as Bolo Rançoso, Pão de Rala, Encharcada, Bolo Podre, Popias Alentejanas and Sericaia.
The story of the Rançoso Cake begins in a convent where it was customary for the nuns to dedicate part of their time to preparing sweets. The name of the cake is due to an answer given by a nun to a priest who was caught eating, gluttony being one of the seven deadly sins, the priest asked what the nun was eating, to which the nun replied "Rançoso bacon, priest" giving it its name.
Pão de Rala was also created in a convent and has variations such as "trouxas-de-ovos" (egg rolls) as a filling and may or may not contain chocolate. This cake also takes almonds, egg yolks, and some water to create a paste called "espécie", then it is filled with egg yolks, soft eggs, and gila jam, and includes lemon peel.
Encharcada is another candy created in a convent and is one of the most popular in the Alentejo and the simplest to make, with variations depending on where it is made. This sweet is present in Portuguese tables from north to south.
There are several types of Bolo Podre, from the Alto and Baixo Alentejo and Algarve, which is the one we will discuss, Bolo Podre from Madeira and the one created in Castro Daire, all of them different. The origin of this name is not known, but it is known that this sweet was created by nuns from Alentejo. It is thought that the origin of the name is due to the cake being able to stand being in closed boxes without losing quality and that it can be consumed at times when it should already be putrid.
Popias Alentejanas are dried cinnamon cookies in the shape of a ring, and are made of flour, sugar, white wine, olive oil, lard, and cinnamon. Fennel is also commonly used and they are sprinkled with sugar.
Finally we have the Sericaia, which can also be called Sericá or Cericá, is also a confection created in a convent. Some say that this candy comes from India and others say it is from Brazil, but it is known that this recipe was implemented in Alentejo, being a tradition more linked to Elvas, where the candy is decorated with plums from the region.