Linguica and Potatoes

While I may be half Italian and half Portuguese, when it comes to cooking, things don’t balance out quite so evenly. In fact, I can only think of a handful of dishes I ate growing up that came from my Portuguese side–and just about all of them had linguica in them.

On the off chance you’ve never hung around Portuguese fishermen in Fall River, Massachusetts, or your dad wasn’t born in East Cambridge: linguica is a pork-based mild, (almost sweet) sausage seasoned with paprika. It has just a hint of heat from the paprika, but nowhere near as spicy as chorizo.

Most of the time, if I make linguica, I simply fry it up and serve it on crusty rolls. But every now and then, I make linguica and potatoes. It’s more of a fall dish, really–the kind of thing I would expect to see on my Portuguese grandmother’s Thanksgiving table. The weather has been unusually cool for this past week, so I figured that was good enough reason to trot out this recipe.

The dish I had growing up was practically a casserole, cooked in the oven. I prefer this version because the potatoes stay crispy but still mix flavors with the linguica quite well.

1 lb linguica, cut into 1/2″ disks
2-3 medium potatoes, diced
canola oil, for deep frying
approx. 1/2 cup water

Add about 1/2 cup water to a 12″ non-stick frying pan (you want less than a 1/4″ of water on the bottom of your pan). Place the linguica pieces in the frying pan in a single layer and heat over a medium flame. When the water gets close to a boil, lower the flame, cover and simmer. You will want to flip sides about every five minutes. Cook until the linguica browns slightly on both sides and the liquid has just about evaporated. Actually, evaporated isn’t quite the word. I am not sure if it is the result of a sugar cure (though I thought linguica was a smoke-cured sausage), but as you get to the end of the cook, the last of your liquid will be something close to a syrup. This is a good thing!

While the linguica is cooking, heat about 3″ of oil in a heavy bottom pan. Fry your potato cubes in batches until they are golden brown. Salt and set aside.

Ideally, you will have finished frying your last batch of potatoes just as your linguica is cooked and your liquid is getting syrupy.

At that point toss the potatoes into the frying pan with the linguica. Kill the heat, and combine the linguica and potatoes. Serve piping hot.

Linguica used to be hard to find unless you lived in a city with a large Portuguese or Brazilian enclave. It started showing up in chain grocery stores here in the Southeast a few years back, so I am guessing with a little effort you could probably find it in your area too. If not, Gaspar’s will ship directly to your house. Sorry, Dad–they don’t ship morcella!

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