Dourada on the BBQ

When we are staying at our villa in Portugal over the winter time the weather in the Algarve is warm and sunny in the day time and in the evenings, although the temperature drops to between 6 and 12 deg C its still warm enough to be outside in a fleece. A perfect climate to enjoy a BBQ at any time of day.


I love to BBQ, I don’t need an excuse so at about 7.00pm I get started, it is so quiet only the hooting of owls disturbs the silence. The view to the coast has taken on a new dimension, a myriad of twinkling lights laid out like a carpet along the coast line, quite awesome! I fire up the BBQ with Charcoal, for me there is no other way,¬† charcoal adds greatly to the flavour of any meat or fish, propane just does not do it. A good friend of mine in Canada says that propane is better and that charcoal is carcinogenic, I cannot agree, how can a man made refined oil product be better than a natural product? I asked him how would Jesus have cooked his fish, Charcoal or Propane, argument over! Seriously though the Mediterranean folks have been cooking over Charcoal since time immemorial¬† and still do, the majority of restaurants in Monchique, Algarve and Portugal are in fact Churrasqueiras (Barbecues, cooking over charcoal) and the Portuguese live to a ripe old age, they are not dropping like flies!

BBQ recipes are endless but on our Villa Vida Nova Blog I will from time to time write up which I think are best suited to Portuguese produce, the Algarvian Climate, the holiday mood and of course which ones I like!

The photos show Dourada, (one per person size), a local fish with white soft delicately flavoured flesh, found on all fish counters in Portugal. It will come cleaned for you, all you need to do is rinse the fish, cut 3 diagonal cuts through to the bone, (see top picture) rub some coarse sea salt into the cuts, a little ground white pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You will seen in the bottom two photos the fish are sandwiched in a cleaned hinged BBQ griddle, this simply makes turning the fish far easier without them falling apart. To clean the griddle let it burn in the hot coals for 5 minutes then brush it with a wire brush. Let it cool then brush the cleaned griddle with a little olive oil so that the fishes skin does not stick to it or you can brush the fish with olive oil, either way is good. Cook over medium coals for 5-10¬† minutes depending on heat and size of fish. Look into the cuts and you will see when the flesh is cooked through to the bone, don’t over cook, slightly underdone is better than overdone.

Read what Andrea Smith of Catavino has to say about Fish In Portugal


Perfect BBQ Chicken Piri Piri

Whether you are at home or staying at our villa rental in Algarve you might want to try your hand at authentic Portuguese chicken Piri Piri.

First of all, if you don’t have a charcoal BBQ and charcoal then it simply will not turn out right nor taste the same.BBQ Chicken Piri Piri

Here is how we do it at Villa Vida Nova!

Buy the smallest and most tender chickens you can find and the more yellow the skin is the better. Dissect the chicken through the joints and cut the breast into manageable pieces, keep the skin and bone on but cut off any excess fat and discard. You can just buy drums and thighs if you like the dark meat, IMO they taste better than breast anyway.

There are many Piri Piri sauces in the local supermarket in Monchique, buy one and pour it over the chicken. You can add some fresh Piri Piri seeds from the garden if they are ready, be careful, don’t touch your eyes or anything sensitive after handling them! Add a handful of coarse salt, a shot or two of whiskey, half the juice of a lemon from the garden and leave for 24 hours in the fridge, turning the pieces over several times so that they get a good coating all over.

Chicken needs 40-45 minutes on the BBQ to make sure it is cooked through and not pink on the bone. So for this a supermarket bag of charcoal is not going to do it, 2 maybe but you don’t want to run out, so buy a big sackful from the vegetable shop with the plastic donkey on the Alferce road about 1/3 of a mile from the Intermarche on the left. A big sack is about 10-12 Euros whereas the Intermarche bags are about 5 Euros for about 1/6th of the quantity. You will then have plenty for several BBQs and what is left over the next guests will appreciate. Don’t skimp on the charcoal.

Use plenty of charcoal in the BBQ with a couple of fire lighters get it going and put the griddle in as low as possible so any fat on it burns off. Use the wire brush to give it a good clean, turn it over and do the other side. After about 20 minutes it should be ready but still too hot, level out the hot coals and damp it down by splashing cold water from a plastic drinking bottle. Keep that full and handy.Chicken Piri Piri at Villa Vida Nova

Put the chicken on the griddle the thickest pieces in the middle at the back and the thinnest and smallest pieces at the front and place at the highest level, make a note of the time and observe the underneath of the chicken. Don’t walk away from the BBQ you will need a helper to top up your beer or wine and your handy water bottle! Keep damping the coals if the chicken is cooking too quickly, the damping is to make the cooking period last the full 45 minutes. Keep turning the chicken every 3-5 minutes, it must not burn.

Don't skimp on the charcoal

As the charcoal burns away keep pushing it to the back and add more charcoal at the front which in turn will be pushed back and more added at the front to replace it. After about 25-30 minutes you should be able to move the griddle down a notch or two, keep adding charcoal as required and or water to dampen, keep turning, it should not be burnt but the skin should be turning crispy and brown and the skin on the drumsticks should be pulling upwards from the end.

That’s about it, after 40-45 minutes it should be perfectly done. Enjoy!