What does a traditional Portuguese Christmas dinner look like?

A traditional Portuguese Christmas dinner: Chef Luis Gaspar reveals the recipe that makes the guests at the restaurant Pica Pau in Lisbon go into raptures.

Christmas menu Portugal

A festively decorated Christmas tree is as much a part of Portuguese Christmas as the traditional Christmas dinner with the whole family. Usually on the evening of 24 December. Another particularly well-known Christmas meal is stockfish (bacalhau) with cabbage and potatoes. For dessert, there are usually mountains of cakes and other sweet things, such as bolo rei - the king's cake. Gifts, however, are only given at midnight - an exception is made for the little ones.

Christmas goose, turkey, carp or fondue chinoise, every country has its own traditional dishes to serve during Christmas.

In the restaurant Pica Pau in Lisbon, the scent of octopus comes back every year. This is Luis Gaspar's traditional Christmas dinner, which has been sizzling in his family's oven on the holidays for generations. "We braise it with peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and coriander until it is very tender." It is roasted for one and a half hours in a traditional wood-fired oven - accompanied by traditional corn bread so that the flavours combine in an enticing way. "Just before serving, we cut the bread and toast the slices in olive oil." The dish is served with roasted potatoes and a Portuguese red wine. (Want more octopus? Pulpo a la Vera by The Duc Ngo)

Roasted Octopus

Bringing Portugal's culinary heritage to life

Luis Gaspar serves the traditional Christmas dish also at Pica Pau. 25 employees work in the business near Lisbon's botanical gardens. Pica Pau is a traditional restaurant, from the décor to the music to the menu and the green and white checked cloth napkins. The name says it all: Pica Pau means woodpecker and is a well-known Portuguese dish served in bars and traditional restaurants, the tascas. It’s called woodpecker, because the food is served with small wooden skewers instead of cutlery. Guests at Pica Pau enjoy cod, lamb with rice from the oven and lobster rice. "We want to revive and preserve Portugal's culinary heritage with our cuisine. In doing so, we stick to traditional recipes and the appropriate preparation techniques."

Shopping at local producers and at MAKRO

He sources some of the products for the restaurant from small local producers. He buys octopus and cod at MAKRO, as METRO is called in Portugal. He also gets vegetables, dairy products and meat there. "The quality is simply convincing. I usually have my groceries delivered to the restaurant. But I also like to go to the store sometimes and get inspired by new products." Luis Gaspar has fulfilled a lifelong dream with Pica Pau. In return, he now fulfils the culinary dreams of his guests.

METRO Wine of the Year 2022

Every year, METRO's wine experts search the world for a partner with whom to produce the WINE OF THE YEAR - exclusively for METRO customers.
This year it comes from the north of Portugal, more precisely from the DOURO region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its long winemaking history and viticulture. The VINHAS DE MURÇA stand for the quality and speciality of the best wines of the Douro Valley.

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