I travelled to Lisbon in 2018 and loved the city and it’s food (though Porto is definitely my favourite Portuguese city). It’s a city I want to return to, to travel the streets, eat more food, and just enjoy my time there. So I bought My Lisbon by Nuno Mendes, wanting to recreate a little of that Lisbon magic in my house. Oh boy was I disappointed. Though glad I didn’t pay the going price of $90 for this book, I would have been MUCH more disappointed if that was the case.
To begin with, there are not that many vegetarian dishes in the book that suited my household, and with recipes broken up into “pastries, snacks, lunch, small plates, dinner, desserts and sandwiches”, I had to go through section by section to find recipes to make for the dinner I was creating. The recipes I chose in the end were either odd or boring. There is a recipe for a leg of lamb cooked in a bottle of wine with bacon and onion. None of this flavour was in the lamb itself. It was tender, but it was just lamb. The bread and kale dish tasted nice (apparently, I don’t do kale), but the texture was odd, and cooking it was a pain. The roast vegetables were nothing special. It was so disappointing. 1 out of 5 stars.
Slow-baked lamb chanfana (serves 6)
- 2kg lamb shoulder
- flake sea salt and ground pepper
- 20g butter
- 2 tbsp rendered pork fat or lard (or more butter)
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 bay leaves, roughly torn
- 350 – 400ml red wine
- 180g smoky bacon, coarsely chopped
- 3 white onions, sliced
- Season the lamb with salt and pepper and put it in the dish you will bake it in. Melt the butter and pork fat in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, mix together the fat with the garlic, 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the paprika, and the bay leaves. Pour the marinade over the lamb and add enough red wine to cover it completely. Marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours, ideally overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan forced/convection. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the bacon, and cook until the fat melts and is crispy. Put the bacon and onions under the lamb and cover it with foil. Roast for about 3.5 hours, then remove the foil and roast for 20 minutes more, or until it is tender and almost falling off the bone. Leave to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Notes on this recipe:
- The instruction that is missing in step two is, take the lamb out of the wine mixture, put the onion and bacon into the wine mixture, put the lamb back on top.
- We also used a bottle and a half of wine to cover the lamb shoulder
- This dish was fine, but with all the wine and bacon, I was looking for amazing.
Vinha d’alhos-style vegetables (serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish)
For the glaze
- 150ml red wine, ideally a light to medium-bodied red wine such as a Pinot Noir
- 3 tbsp/50ml red wine vinegar, plus a little extra (optional)
- 3 tbsp/50ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/2 tsp toasted cumin seeds, gently crushed
- 2.5 tsp/50g honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
For the vegetables
- 3 red onions, cut into thick rings
- 400g parsnips, halved lengthways
- 500g heirloom carrots, halved lengthways
- flaky sea salt, ground white pepper, and cracked black pepper
- 50g walnuts
- 3 slices day-old bread, such as ciabatta or sour dough
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- a small handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
- Extra-virgin olive oil to serve
- To make the glaze – Put the glaze ingredients in a pan and cook over medium heat until the honey dissolves. Be careful not to reduce the glaze too much at this stage as it will reduce further while cooking. Set aside.
- To make the vegetables – Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan forced/convection. Put the onions in a baking dish large enough to allow the vegetables plenty of room to roast, rather than steam (we want them to roast for flavour and colour). Sit the parsnips and carrots on top of the onions and season with salt and white pepper. Pour the glaze over and mix well. Roast for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown. After 15 minutes you can remove the cinnamon stick if you like. Baste the vegetables with the glaze two or three times while cooking. You can add extra red wine vinegar halfway through if you like an acidic kick.
- Put the walnuts on a separate baking sheet and bake them for a few minutes until lightly toasted. Coarsely chop them once cooled.
- Make the croutons by tearing the bread into rough bite-sized pieces. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the bread and toast for 5 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Put the croutons in a bowl and mix in the orange and lemon zest and parsley. Season with salt and white pepper.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, if the glaze seems to liquid you can simmer it in a pan to reduce, then spoon it back over the vegetables. Sprinkle the walnuts and croutons over the vegetables and add a generous plug of extra-virgin olive oil, flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Notes on this recipe:
- The vegetables are not to steam, but yet they’re cooking in a whole lot of liquid. I honestly don’t know how long you’d need to cook these for (probably another 30 minutes) to get golden vegetables
- It was fine, but again nothing special or interesting.
- I have no idea what tablespoon measure would get you 50ml of something if you used three of them. This math hurts my brain.
Kale migas with mushrooms (serves 4)
- 80g white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp/50ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- flaky sea salt and ground white pepper
- smoked paprika
- 160g cornbread, sourdough, or other rustic loaf, cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp rendered pork fat or lard (or butter)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- a small bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped
- 100g kale, sliced
- Put the mushrooms in a bowl. Pour on the extra-virgin olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and paprika, and stir. Set aside to marinate while you cook the migas.
- Put the bread in another bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover it. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika, stir well and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil and pork fat (or butter) in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and coriander and cook gently until fragrant. Increase the heat slightly, add the kale, and sauté for a few minutes until it starts to wilt. Add the soaked bread and cook for about 10 minutes, pressing down with a spatula. As it cooks, move the bread around to incorporate it with the kale and let any liquid evaporate. When it crisps around the edges, turn it over and continue to cook until golden brown. The final texture should be crispy on the outside and soft inside.
- Transfer to a serving dish and spoon the marinated mushrooms on top. Serve immediately.
Notes on this recipe:
- Apparently the marinated mushrooms were the best bit of this dish.
- It was so weird to cook. You just add dripping bread, and according to the photo for the recipe, you should end up with a pancake with kale in it. I ended up with weird pieces of bread with kale around them. Turning it in any form without it breaking apart was incredibly difficult.
- The texture of the dish, for those who ate it, was unpleasant, as you’d kinda expect soaked bread that has then been partially dried out to be.