Madeira is also justifiably famous for the meat dishes served in its restaurants…..chef’s seem to have particular expertise in cooking steaks.
Espetada – Maderia beef served on a skewer
Espetada is another Madeira specialty to look out for, and is served in many establishments. This is skewered beef (bife) given a unique flavour by the use of laurel leaves in the coals. It is grilled over an open fire and often served with the skewers hanging in “frame” when presented at the table.
Espetada makes a great hors d’oeuvre or a main course when it is usually served with salad and fries. No traditional Madeiran wine perfectly suits this dish, but the growing number of good quality table wines from Madeira, especially the zingy rose’s would work well with this meaty scented beef dish, or a glass of Coral lager…..the local brewed beer ubiquitous in most establishments.
Carne vinho e alhos: Pork spiced with wine and garlic
One of the most important Madeiran dishes is this dish of pork spiced with wine and garlic. It is eaten specially during the Christmas festivities, and is a true traditional Madeiran dish.
This dish consists of small pieces of pork meat left to marinate at least for a day often longer) in a mix of wine vinegar, garlic, pepper,oregano and bay leaf, before it is cooked in the same sauce.
I am told fried bread and sliced orange are also common ingredients of this recipe with families often having differing traditions around its preparation.
This dish is not all that common on menus in tourist orientated restaurants. It is found sometimes as a sandwich, which it is excellent with a beer.
To make Carne de vinho e alhosCut the meat into small pieces and season with salt. The following day, make the marinade and leave the meat to marinate at least three days in a pot. The sauce should completely cover the meat. Fry in the marinate, serve with bread.
Two cups of vinegar
10 garlic cloves
Laurel, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Marjoram or oregano
Salt, to taste
Picado Cubed beef pan fried in garlic
Picado is one of the most popular meat dishes in Madeira among locals and tourists.
This dish is made with small cubes of veal, seasoned with salt, pepper and pan fried with garlic. It is traditionally served surrounded by chips.
Madieran restaurants are generally expert in cooking steaks, with rich sauces often based on wines and brandies. The much missed Fleur de Lys grill rooms of the Classic Savoy produced superlative Steak Diane, with the added theatre of cooking the steak at the table.
Madeiran beef is known for its tenderness and taste, and several restaurants offer the “steak on the stone” way of cooking your own steak.
Much of this tradition of steak cooking is maintained by the excellent Dona Amelia, its sister restaurant Casa Velha and the nearby Casa de Franca de Penha all of which produce wonderful steak dishes.
Steak sandwiches are offered in many snack bars and can make an excellent lunch, they are usually served in Bolo do Caco