Thursday, June 21

Euro 2012 food :

Portuguese vs Czech cooking

Ronaldo's favorite food

As the heat rises around football these days, with ongoing Euro 2012, I thought it would also be interested to get to know some of the gastronomical facts of the countries playing in quarter finals of the tournament and some of the favourite meals of stars of European football.

Today's game Czech-Portugal, involves two very different styles from the point of football as well as the gastronomy.

Czech's continental cooking, involves loads of meat: grilled pork, schnitzels, goulash etc. along with loads of cooked dumplings- savory or sweet. And don't forget famous Czech beer that goes well pretty much with every meal. I always take as a reference to Czech eating, characters from Jiri Menzel's movies, enjoying pork and beer daily, starting from early in the morning for a breakfast.

Portuguese cooking is different and very versatile, from heavy continental Chourico sausages to the coastal seafood gastronomy. Football style: very creative as well, from my amateur point of view.
As I explored more, I have found some, for me, interesting facts related to some of the players too. And it's, of course, about a food they like to eat…That's why, I am bringing you here one very delicate and so local Portuguese dish, Cristiano Ronaldo's favorite - Bacalhou a braz. Although being world's football superstar, Ronaldo always stayed close to his roots and his mom's authentic cooking.

Portuguese Bacalhau
Cristano Ronaldo's favorite Bacalhau A Bras 

Bacalhau or bacalao etc or salted cod, is one of the super special dishes of Portugal, Spain, Italy and other far Mediterranean region. Apparently there are hundreds and some say thousand recipes with salt cod.

First, you should soak the fish. Leave it in a bowl filled with water in the refrigerator, covered with a plate or something (to keep the smell from the fridge.) Change the water about three times daily over two to three days. Bacalhau is not meant to taste completely free of salt, like fresh cod. It has a tang and a deep saltiness, and how long you soak it depends on your taste. In my experience, it is no less than 48 hours before a salt cod fillet is desalted. But you have to check it from time to time. The thicker the fillet, the longer it will take. Too long will cause cod to get too flaky.

Many recipes also require a second preparation step: boiling the cod before shredding it. If you are going to have a shredded bacalhau dish (like bacalhau à bras, etc.) you will need to set aside 10 minutes to boil the fish, at least 15 to cool the fish, and another 10 minutes to shred it into pieces, carefully picking out all the bones.

Cristiano Ronaldo's favorite :

Bacalhau a BrÃs
(Salt Cod Scrambled With Eggs And Potatoes)

(200 g) 6 oz boneless dried salt cod
2 large potatoes, peeled
½ cup pure olive oil (for deep frying)
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced very thin
2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
5 large eggs
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
oil-cured good black olives


Soak the cod for couple of days in several changes of cool water. Rinse the cod well, discard the skin, then with the fingers tear the cod into fine shreds. Meantime, cut the potatoes into long thin shreds. Empty into a large bowl and rinse under cool water. Dry potatoes on paper towels. Meanwhile, heat the frying oil in deep small skillet or saute pan to high, then fry the potatoes in small batches, separating the shreds, until they get straw color. Take out the potatoes to paper towels and drain the oil.
In a heavy skillet or clay pan set over low heat, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they begin to color; turn the heat to its lowest point, cover and steam 20 minutes, until very soft.
Mix the shredded cod into the onion mixture, cover and steam 10 minutes more.
Whisk the eggs with the black pepper and no salt (cod is still salty). Toss half of potatoes with the cod mixture, pour in the eggs and raise the heat to moderate. Scramble until eggs are soft.
Serve on a small heated platter, and put remaining potatoes on top, sprinkle with parsley and black olives.

Czech'sYeast Dumplings (Houskové Knedlíky)

Roast pork and other meat dishes are often served with either yeast or potato dumplings. And, of course you can also find fruit dumplings.

1 tsp dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
4 cups instant flour
1 egg
1 cubed bread

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water with sugar. In a big bowl combine flour, salt, egg and bread. After yeast rises, add it to mixture and knead until soft and smooth. Form 4 rolls on a sheet with flour. Cover and let rise.
Boil salted water and gently place the knedliky in water. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Test before taking them out. They should be light and puffy.
Remove from water and slice.

(Czech Easter cake)

5 cups flour                                  
1 cup warm milk
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp fresh yeast or 2 tsp dry yeast
1 tbsp salt
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup melted butter or margarine
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped blanched almonds

Sift flour into large bowl. Make a well in center. Pour in milk and sugar. Stir in yeast and let yeast rise to top of milk and mix in a little flour. Add salt, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Mix. Add raisins and almonds. Place on a lightly floured board and knead until smooth. Place the dough into greased bowl, cover and let rise until double. Divide dough in half. Divide each half into 4 equal large pieces, 3 smaller pieces, and 2 small pieces. Roll each into equally long rolls and braid to get shape like from the photo. Let rise, then brush with beaten egg. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Makes 3 housky.

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