Travelling around the world, I can discover dishes that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. While I’m lucky to be living in the diverse nation of Canada which grants me access to plenty of culinary delights, there are still so many dishes out there to discover. Recently, I was in Sao Miguel in the Azores, Portugal. It’s a beautiful island and also the biggest of the nine.
There were lots of things to see on the island, but what I was highly anticipating during this tour was a dish they specialize in called cozido. It’s a dish that is cooked underground with the help of heat from active volcanoes.
The size of the pot depends on amount of food you want to cook. They just add the ingredients into the pot and place a lid on with a cloth tied on top. The pan is lowered about 1 1/2 metres underground with a wooden cover and dirt is put on top of it, leaving a small mound on top to seal the hole (and probably help point out where it is).
The pot stays on average between 6 1/2-7 hours underground during the cooking process. You can say it’s like the original version of a slow cooker. So what exactly are the ingredients of a typical Azorean cozido?
A cozido consists of different meats like chicken, pork and beef. In addition, there is a range of vegetables, like white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, cabbage, onions (it cooks so long it just melts into the dish) and a local vegetable called inhames that looks and tastes similar to a taro root (it’s also known as “elephant ears”). The dish also includes chorizo pork sausage and blood pudding sausage and is seasoned with salt and red pepper paste. Restaurants just take a few pieces of everything from the pot and plate it for diners to enjoy with a plate of rice.
Interestingly enough, no liquid is added into the pot during the cooking process. However, because of the fresh and natural juices from the ingredients, a beautiful broth is created. Most restaurants don’t offer this broth because the amount extracted from all the meats and veggies is limited, but I was fortunate my guide knows the secrets of a cozido.
The soupy broth can be placed on top of the meats, vegetables and rice and is a tasty addition to the meal. In the event you try a cozido yourself, you can ask for this broth if you call the restaurant ahead to reserve it. It’s quite the journey to learn how a cozido is made, let alone seeing where it is cooked and then having the dish plated in front of you. This style of cooking is simply done with the help of mother nature, but it’s a delicious experience too!