Montado do Freixo do Meio
Acorn Stew

An ancestral meal from Alentejo cooked in a coconut grove (cocaria) with the organic products from Herdade do Freixo do Meio.

This ancestral meal from the Alentejo, surely dates to the ancient Neolithic, 5000 B.C., when we started to master pottery. It is the container that holds the broth and holds the fire that makes the difference, along with the success of using enzymes extracted from the meat to open the vegetable fibers that were available. This is the essence of our cozido, of the Cozido à Portuguesa, and of all Iberian, European, or World stews. 

The pot, or here, pot or clay tare, in which it is made, is a hybrid food solution for storage, transport, cooking and eating, genius for its accessibility, utility, versatility and footprint. Its ovoid shape covered by the «testo» (top cover of the egg), allows cooking on the flame without the influence of the smoke released. This shape not only gives the piece consistency, but when subjected to the flame temperature on only one side, generates a vortex in the liquid it contains. In its functional aspect, it is responsible for one of the first technological revolutions of our adventure, but the clay pot has always been much more than that: it is one of the first symbols of humanity in various times and contexts. Associated with the Great Goddess of Antiquity, with fertility and fecundity, with fire, with everything and nothing, in prehistoric times, it crosses time until today being, for example, the main symbol of Alchemy.  

The Stew is a slow and thick soup composed of water, fat, acorns, nuts, green vegetables, tubers and roots, legumes, aromatics and some fresh or preserved meat. The ingredients have always varied throughout the seasons and in everyone’s backyard, but this formula never changes. 

Even today, in some ranch work (group of rural workers) in Herdade do Freixo do Meio, it is common to see individual pots on the fire of the pantry (place of the meal), fifty years ago, the Portuguese rural workers mostly fed themselves in this balanced and frugal way. The day before the working day, the «tarro» (a clay pot in the Alentejo) is prepared with meat, beans, green leaves or beans, olive oil or bacon, and the tubers from the garden and salt. In the morning the «tarro» is handed to the «mantieira» or «coqueira» – the woman responsible for preparing the pantry, making the fire without causing damage – and cooking throughout the morning, the «tarros» of each one of the workers of the rancho. The whole group is called «cocaria». The original tradition of one for all, all for one.

The Acorn Stew Recipe from the Montado Freixo do Meio is composed of acorns, water, chickpeas, kale, cabbage, green beans, carrots, turnips, broth, sausage, farinheira, pork, beef, acorn bread, and mint.