In America, my mother’s roasting adeptness is most venerated on Thanksgiving Day, which not traditionally a Portuguese holiday, we adopted as our own and celebrate it as our fellow immigrants do as “the day of the turkey.” For Portuguese families, the downfall to this American holiday is in fact its centerpiece—the turkey—which does make its way onto some Luso tables back in the Old Country but usually takes a back seat to chicken and duck. The complaints about the bird’s “dryness” have generally been unanimous. But when November came around each year in Newark, where I grew up among a vibrant Portuguese community, my mother (dubbed “Ceu” by friends and family) did indeed trade in her chicken for turkey. Unlike our neighbors who dreaded eating their bird (in some cases substituting it entirely with some other fowl), I, my father (Jose Luis) and my younger brother (Luis) had no reason to beg that the gobbler become an afterthought on the holiday dinner table. And as our family has expanded over the years, my mother’s turkey remains a godsend during our annual autumn festivities.
Try this traditional Portuguese Fowl recipe with a hearty, flavorful red from the Beira region. And if you’re keen to visit the region for a bespoke culinary tour of one of the most under-appreciated culinary destinations in Portugal, let us know!