I grew up in a household that was both Italian American and Portuguese American. My mom’s side of the family is Portuguese, and I was lucky enough to eat her delicious Portuguese food throughout my entire childhood. She was not alone; all of my many tias (aunts) were very active in the kitchen, and when the whole family got together, the feasting was unparalleled. (Please don’t tell anyone on the Italian side of my family that I said that, okay?)
One of my favorite dishes that Mom made was her Portuguese rice. Variations on this dish exist throughout Portuguese cuisine, and like most things, everyone adds their own special touch. The star ingredient here is linguiça, which is a smoked pork sausage flavored with paprika and garlic. It’s a perfect one-pot situation and very much a “mom” recipe, which is probably why we ate it so often.
I recently got together with my mom, and we embarked on the journey of re-creating her Portuguese rice recipe, which, of course, was never written down, like so many of the best recipes. We called a few tias and got their takes on it, and then set a course recipe-testing together. We didn’t stop until we were transported back in time to our kitchen table, enjoying a meal together as a family, my face covered in rice and hers covered in a smile.
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
linguiça, cut into 1/8-inch coins on a diagonal
red bell pepper, finely chopped
large white onion, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)
(heaped) smoked paprika
(6-ounce) can tomato paste
long-grain white rice
dried bay leaves
chopped fresh parsley
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Add the olive oil to a medium-sized oven-safe pot or Dutch oven. Over low heat, let the oil heat up for about 5 minutes. Add the linguiça coins to the pot and spread them out evenly. Cook until the sausage is brown and crispy on both sides, flipping halfway through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the cooked linguiça from the pot and set aside on a plate.
- Your pot will have a gorgeous orange oil left in it. To this, add the bell pepper, onion, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook over medium heat, stirring until the vegetables browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the smoked paprika and stir until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and stir until everything is combined and the paste starts to caramelize, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock to deglaze the pan, stirring until all the crispy bits come off the bottom into the mix.
- Add the rice, bay leaves, and reserved linguiça (scraping any oil off the plate into the pan!) and stir until everything comes to a boil.
- Cover your pot and place it in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the rice is cooked through. If you find your rice needs more liquid toward the end of the cooking time, add the extra ½ cup of chicken stock to the pot, stir, and place back into the oven.
- When the rice is fully cooked, remove the pot from the oven and keep it covered, off the heat, for 5 to 10 minutes. This will make the rice extra creamy.
- Served topped with the chopped parsley and enjoy!
- Bonus: If you wanted to bulk up this dish with crispy chicken thighs, they really make a great addition. Just start off with some chicken thighs skin side down in your pot and cook them over medium heat until the skin releases from the pot, maybe 8 to 10 minutes. Flip over and cook about 5 minutes on the other side. Set the thighs aside, then start your recipe at step 1, using the grease from the chicken instead of the ¼ cup of olive oil. Place the chicken thighs skin side up on top of rice before you place the pot in oven, and they will finish cooking with the rice.