Alentejo’s Açorda Recipe

Written By Zé Eduardo Penedo

Bread, water, garlic, olive oil, coriander and egg. That’s it. No, I’m not kidding, that’s how you make one of Portugal’s most beloved dishes. And it might come as a shock to you, but the bread doesn’t even need to be fresh or come from a specific region.

In this recipe, you’ll learn how to prepare an açorda in its purest form, but keep in mind that, much like migas, it is a very versatile dish that you can add all kinds of stuff to. Some people on the coast came up with the sea açorda, with either codfish or shrimp.

Others, particularly in the South, usually throw some pork ribs in it. Some people keep the bread slices whole, others prefer mashing it up. So, once you’re down with the basics, feel free to tweak it as you please.

BACK THEN

It seems unquestionable that “açorda” is a gift from the presence of the Arabs on Portuguese soil. It also seems that the açorda is a subsistence dish, probably as a result of food crises. And its arrival is due to its ease of preparation and, above all, the simple mix of basic products. Bread has always been, and still is, a staple of the Portuguese diet.

Analyzing the sources, the recipes, of the Arab presence on the peninsula, we find many soups to which crumbled or coarsely chopped bread was added. This seems to be the origin of the açorda. However, it is almost only in the south of the country that the name “açorda” is used. This term is never associated with the bread soups that are still made today in Beiras or Trás-os-Montes, so it’s safe to assume that the açorda prepared in the Alentejo is most likely the original one.

PORTIONS

3-4

INGREDIENTS

• 400g of wheat bread
• 300ml of water
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 6 teaspoons of olive oil
• 2 teaspoons of salt
• 2 or 3 sprigs of coriander
• 4 egg yolks

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Start by sautéing with olive oil and chopped garlic. You can also crush the garlic with the salt in a mortar.
  2. Boil the water in a separate pan and hard-boil the eggs.
  3. Add the sliced bread to the sauté. Stir it lightly so the bread absorbs the olive oil and then add half of the coriander you are going to use. Stir well and add to the sauté.
  4. Gradually add the hot water. The açorda should be neither too liquid nor too hard. Once the bread reaches the desired consistency, don’t add any more water.
  5. Add the boiled eggs and serve immediately. With this technique, you can make any açorda you like.
  6. If you’d like to try a porridge-like açorda, all you need to do is stir the bread more often until it crumbles.

There you go, all done! One of the great things about the açorda, and most Portuguese dishes at large, is how often garlic and herbs are used. Garlic is known for being an almost miraculous product, boosting immunity and warding off coughs and colds.

For that reason, the açorda can also be seen (and consumed) as a Portuguese version of chicken soup. It’s great for when you’re ill or feeling weak, and I swear to God it tastes even better if you eat it in front of the fireplace, so make sure to try it this winter!

Bom apetite!

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