Portugal is known for its delicious meats, especially pork. The country’s climate and landscape are ideal for raising pigs, and as a result, pork dishes are some of the most popular in Portuguese cuisine.
There are many different types of pork dishes to enjoy in Portugal, from Feijoada to Cozido à Portuguesa and various types of sausage. And no trip to Portugal would be complete without attending one of the country’s traditional meat festivals.
These festivals usually take place throughout the year in various places up and down the country.
They offer visitors a chance to try a variety of different smoked and barbecued meats. Many of the country’s best chefs and family-run businesses come to these festivals to showcase their creations.
So if you’re looking for a truly authentic Portuguese dining experience, be sure to attend one of Portugal’s meat festivals.
The Different Types of Meat in Portugal
It’s a toss-up between Bacalhau (Portuguese codfish) and Pork meat when it comes to lunch or dinner, as both are heavily favoured over other types of fish and meat.
Although the West Coast of Portugal is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, you would be forgiven for thinking that fish is cheaper than meat and more commonly devoured by the locals.
On the contrary, pork is cheaper to buy than nearly all types of fish and meats in Portugal (except for sardines), and therefore, the Portuguese people created loads of tasty pork dishes.
Black pig is a speciality in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The pigs are fed a diet of acorns, which gives the meat a unique flavour. Visitors to the region can enjoy the various Alentejano black pig dishes at many restaurants and drink their delicious Alentejo wines.
Portugal is also famous for its sausages. There are many different types of sausage made in Portugal, including:
- Chouriço, a spicy sausage typically made with spices like paprika.
- Morcela, a slightly crumbly black sausage made with pig’s blood, spices, and meat (don’t let the pig’s blood put you off – this sausage is delicious).
- Farinheira, a soft sausage made with flour, pork fat, garlic, and white wine.
Bucho and Maranho
These two secret recipes date back to the 18th century and are still as popular now as they were back then.
Both are baked in the oven inside pig intestines but are slightly different in flavour as Bucho is a mixture of pork meat, rice, herbs, garlic, and red wine – and Maranho is a mixture of goat meat, rice, chouriço, mint, and white wine.
In a small but beautiful place in the centre of Portugal called Sertã, there is a gastronomic festival every year at the end of July to celebrate the famous dish and give visitors the chance to taste it as well as other typical Portuguese delicacies.
Meat Dishes You Have to Try in Portugal
Just like with any country and its cuisine, there are some meat dishes that you simply have to try when in Portugal.
Here are some of our favourites:
Carne de Porco à Alentejana
This super flavoursome dish is one of the most traditional Portuguese meat dishes that is a mixture of clams, tender pork meat, garlic, wine, herbs, and other ingredients. Although it originated from the Alentejo region, you can find this recipe in most Portuguese restaurants throughout Portugal.
Cozido à Portuguesa
Another famous pork dish in Portugal that uses different parts of the pig to enhance the strength of the gravy. It is served with potatoes, cabbage leaves, carrots, and other hearty veggies.
Also commonly made in most Portuguese restaurants. But if you want to try the best Cozido à Portuguesa, I would advise you only to go to restaurants where there is a queue of people trying to get through the doors, otherwise, you may be disappointed, as some make it better than others.
If you love stewed goat, then you will love this typical recipe from Miranda do Corvo.
What makes Chanfana so special is the fact that the goat meat is cooked in a big clay pot inside wood-fired ovens drowned in red wine, brandy, garlic, and rosemary. The meat melts in your mouth, and the juices are simply finger-licking good.
This is one of those dishes that all Portuguese people know how to make and say they make the best.
Truth be told, it is a delicious dish, but the secret to making it really good is in the thick gravy and the quality selection of meats, which include various sausages, pigs ribs, cheeks, bacon, and loin.
Apart from the meat, Feijoada is layered with black or red beans, a selection of garden vegetables, olive oil, crushed tomatoes, spices, and of course garlic.
(I don’t think you will find a Portuguese dish without garlic!)
Now, this recipe is different from most, and when being served this typical dish from Porto, you may wonder why somebody has served you a pork or beef sandwich with a fried egg on top swimming in gravy. But don’t let the appearance put you off!
This sandwich is hearty, filling, delicious, and when made perfectly, is one hell of a tasty sandwich! The secret to A Francesinha is in the secret sauce, made with 3 types of alcohol, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, followed by layers of tender beef steaks, sausages, ham, and cheese, all layered in between 2 slices of bread.
Portugal’s Famous Meat Festivals
As you know, the Portuguese are huge meat lovers, and every town and city has its own festivals celebrating this much-loved ingredient.
Although there are many, here are some of the most famous ones:
Festa do Porco Alentejano: This festival is held every year in the Alentejo region and celebrates one of Portugal’s most iconic dishes – Carne de Porco à Alentejana.
Visitors can expect to find plenty of meat on offer as well as craft beer, wines, liqueurs, live music, shows, and a fun atmosphere.
Festival Nacional de Gastronomia: This is Portugal’s biggest food festival that takes place every year in Santarém.
There are plenty of stalls offering traditional Portuguese dishes as well as international cuisine, making it the perfect place to come and try something new.
Besides meat and alcohol, visitors can enjoy cooking demonstrations, workshops, live music, and a whole host of other entertainment.
Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais da Serra de Monchique: This fair is held every year in Monchique and celebrates Portugal’s cured sausages and hams.
Visitors can expect to find a wide selection of meats on offer as well as plenty of other local produce such as honey, cheese, and bread.
There is also live music and entertainment for all the family to enjoy.
Round up the Meat
So there you have it, a guide to some of Portugal’s most iconic meat dishes and some of its famous meat festivals. I hope you enjoy trying some of these dishes on your next visit to Portugal. And who knows, maybe you’ll even come away with a newfound love for meat!