You could eat at every Michelin starred restaurant on the planet but you won’t reach peak foodie until you’ve tried one of Portugal’s coolest traditional dishes – Cozido das Furnas. The literal translation is cooked from a furnace, but it ain’t no furnace that’s used to cook this dish… it’s a volcano.
They don’t do things by halves on Portugal’s largest island, Azores. The stunning island has some of the tallest mountains in the country and just like Hawaii, plenty of them are active volcanoes, which means the locals have access to an abundance of natural heat. Over hundreds of years they’ve found a way to harness the underground temperatures and developed a method of cooking that involves burying large pots filled with meat and vegetables under the earth for several hours until it becomes a delicious stew. It’s certainly an ingenious (and cost effective) way to cook!
Cozido das Furnas has become a traditional delicacy of the region and each day restaurants serve their own limited servings of secret family recipes that have been baking in the volcanic vibes overnight. Cozido recipes vary but they usually contain several types of meat (pork, chicken and beef), plus potatoes, carrots, cabbage, kale, chorizo and blood pudding sausage (or just blood sometimes). Extras that are often used to jazz it up include pigs ears and spare ribs, it truly is a unique dish and is different depending on where you get it from!
The volcanic ground is fenced off and holes are reserved for local restaurants to cook in daily. Chefs wrap the large pots in cloth to keep the sulphuric steam in and make the meats fall apart rather than dry out. They say you can even take the volcanic sulphur in the meat! The constant temperature of 80-90 degrees Celsius makes it the perfect oven. Each restaurant has a little sign so they know which hole is theirs when they come back the next day to collect their delicious meal.
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Watching Tony and his gang pull up our #cozido lunch from the fumaroles of #furnas on #saomiguelisland in the #azores. The #cozidodasfurnas dish is prepared by lowering a pot full of layers of beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, blood sausage, taro, cabbage, kale, potatoes, and carrots into a hot spring heated by volcanic steam. The food cooks slowly for about 5 hours, and the only liquid used are the juices from the ingredients. The hot springs work their magic and produce a fabulous meat and vegetable stew that has been boiled underground. #açores #talltravelingteacher
Living on an island full of active volcanoes may sound risky (the last eruption was in 1630 though), but the locals have embraced it and often use the hot springs and hell-hot earth to cook the hearty Cozido, or other traditional stews of fresh caught seafood. Portugal is a food lovers Nirvana and the Azores is a region you cannot miss if you want to try truly local food.