vegetables), and even some desserts. Toucinho magro (“skinny bacon”) has signi cantly more meat than fat. In the past, this type of toucinho was chunked, fried until crisp, and placed in a clay pot until ready to be added to recipes as a avor booster. I don’t call for this type of bacon in these recipes, but if you stumble upon particularly lean farmstead bacon, definitely try it. Toucinho entremeado is half fat, half meat and is usually preferred smoked rather than salted. This is the closest to our bacon, and it’s what I used in developing the recipes for this book. To mimic the taste, pass over packaged sliced bacon and reach for slab bacon or pancetta, even though it’s not smoked. Whatever you do, avoid flavored bacons, such as maple or mesquite.
BEANS, DRIED feijão (fay-zhowhn) Dried beans have played a long and important role in Portuguese cooking and history. They were used to feed sailors who traveled west to the New World for riches, as well as those who navigated round the Cape of Good Hope on their voyages east for spices. The attraction, obviously, is that dried beans keep a long time and pack a nutritious wallop. Back home, beans carried peasant farmers through fallow growing seasons, bolstered late-winter meals when pantries were bare, and served as barter when pockets were empty. Walk through any open-air market in Portugal today, and you’ll still see rows of woven baskets lled with beans of just about every size, shape, and color. For the recipes in this book, stock up on dried black-eyed peas, Great Northern, navy, and red kidney beans. While you’re at it, grab frozen and fresh fava beans when you find them; they’re preferable to their dried counterpart. The best kind of dried beans to buy are fresh, which isn’t an oxymoron. In today’s jumbo-marts, with their huge inventories, beans can sit indefinitely. But at farmers’ markets and stores with high turnover, it’s possible to buy dried beans that aren’t ancient. Before using beans, rinse them well and sort through them, plucking out any stray pebbles. Keep in mind that cooking times in this book are merely guidelines. Depending on the size and age of your beans, timing can vary dramatically, so always nibble a few beans as you cook to determine doneness.