Frango Assado à Moda Da Bairrada (Bairrada Style Roasted Chicken)

Bairrada is a located in the Beira Litoral Province. It is located close to the Atlantic which ocean currents have a moderating effect on the climate. The region includes the municipalities of Anadia, Cantanhede, Mealhada and Oliveira do Bairro.  The area is know for two things: (1) its bold and flavorful red wine and (2) roasted suckling pig.  The latter is what we are interested in for this recipe.  Roasted suckling pig is a hallmark Portuguese dish served on holidays like Christmas and Easter.  I will give it a proper treatment on the blog as we approach Christmas since its preparation while simple takes a lot of time (3 days at least).  Chefs in Portugal have adapted the recipe for all sorts of cuts of meat and poultry.  This recipe transforms simple roasted chicken into a delicious meal that can be weeknight friendly.  The recipe is classic Portuguese in that there are very few ingredients that when combined make for a delicious dish.  This is why using the freshest ingredients is key.  You will also have to procure lard.  I don’t mean that stuff you get at the supermarket.  I am afraid we have to address the elephant in the room: Pork Fat.  That’s right you will either have to make your own lard or purchase it.  Purchasing it can be almost impossible which means you will likely have to make it.  Don’t worry its easy and the by product is amazingly tasty.

 

 

Frango Assado à Moda Da Bairrada (Bairrada Style Roasted Chicken)
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Frango Assado à Moda Da Bairrada (Bairrada Style Roasted Chicken)

Ingredients

    For the pork lard:
  • 10 lbs fat from unsalted pork that can be taken from the fat around the kidneys, ruffle fat (which is taken from the abdominal area of the animal or chunks of fatty pork butt or shoulder (skin on). Ask your butcher and he will help you select fatty pork.
  • Water enough to reach ¼ inch from the bottom of the pan
  • Salt
    For the chicken:
  • 1 cup pork rendered lard at room temperature
  • 1 head of garlic peeled
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 bay leaves crushed
  • 2 whole chickens at room temperature (try to get the smallest ones at the supermarket)

Instructions

    For the pork lard:
  • Depending on how much lard you want to make determines how much pork fat you will need. Rendered pork lard takes a lot of fat to make a modest amount for this recipe. I generally use about 10lbs of ruffle fat. Regardless of which part of the animal you use cut it into about 1 – 2-inch chunks. Add water to the pot until it reaches ¼ inch from the bottom and add the pork. Sprinkle some salt over the surface until it lightly covers the fat. Mix everything together and slowly cook it over a low flame. This may take the better part of a day. You know its ready when the fat rises over the surface of whatever solids are left in the pot. Drain the fat in a colander and let it cool for a few hours before pouring or spooning it into mason jars. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Now depending on what you used to get the lard you may have some edible goodies in the colander. If you used pork butt or shoulder you have rijoes which you can serve with some boiled potatoes and broccoli rabe. If you used pork skin with fat you will have torresmos (pork rinds). If you sued ruffle fat you have sainhas de porco which are beautiful curvy chunks of goodness which you can eat as is or make a sandwich out of it. If you decide to save the solids make sure to place them on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to absorb the fat left in it.
    For the chicken:
  • Place all the ingredients except for the chicken in a food processor or blender and process until all the garlic has been crushed and ground. The mixture should be fully incorporated and the pepper and bay leave evenly distributed.. Place the chickens on a work surface and spread the lard mixture all over and inside the cavity. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the chickens in a roasting pan with a metal grid. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and place in oven. After 45 minutes remove the foil (but do not throw it out) and cook for another 15 minutes or until the internal temperature from a probe inserted into the leg joint reaches 160 degrees. Remove from oven and place the foil back over the chicken and place a kitchen towel over it. Let stand for 15 minutes. Remove towel and foil and collect any drippings from the pan. Place the drippings in a fat skimmer and collect the sauce (without the fat) and place in a gravy boat. Carve the chicken and serve with french fries, salad and sliced orange.
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