There was once a time, about 300 years ago when the Inquisition – an extremist section of the Catholic Church – dictated the rules around here. Strangely enough, even in what food was concerned.
One of the tastiest sausages in Portugal was invented by the Jews during those difficult times as a way to escape the clutches of the Inquisition. Since their religion wouldn’t allow them to eat pork, they would be easily identifiable by their pursuers by not preparing the -very common at the time- smoked pork sausage.
They found a clever resource: they replaced the pork with a huge variety of other meats, such as veal, rabbit, turkey, duck and chicken sometimes partridge, tucked into richly seasoned dough of wheat bread. Garlic played an important part flavor wise as it would cleverly disguise the lack of pork if any investigation would be carried through.
The result was “Alheira”: a mouthwatering soft sausage that would eventually become popular even among Christians. Today we can find “Alheiras” made with different ingredients, including pork, as Christians didn’t resist to adding the usual porky touch to the recipe.
Alheira can be easily found in almost any restaurant menu. Served with a fried egg on top, french fries and salad or vegetables, it can be either fried or grilled.