A Meat Lover’s Take on a Traditional Cod Dish

Frango à Brás

Bacalhau (cod) is generally considered to be Portugal’s traditional “dish”, even though Portuguese people have 365 different ways of cooking this beloved fish. Visitors to Portugal are usually eager to try the vast array of seafood on offer. But what if you don’t like fish? Aside from having plenty of meat options available at restaurants, meat lovers need not forgo delicious recipes simply because of an ingredient they don’t care for. Those of you who regularly read my blog will know I love bacalhau à Brás… and lots of it! My husband, on the other hand, only likes cod in very small quantities. Because I wanted to share an “à Brás” dish with him, I decided to make frango à Brás: a chicken version of the traditional cod dish.

Frango à Brás isn’t a traditional dish, but the style (à Brás) of cooking it is. Some people even use tuna as an alternative to cod or chicken. I’ve even heard of replacing the meat or fish altogether and using vegetables like mushrooms and zucchinis in their place. So really, it’s just a matter of preference, or what you have easy access to (salted cod isn’t always easy to find in other countries)! But essentially, this recipe is a great way to use up leftovers, in this particular case: rotisserie chicken. You’ll want to use a previously-cooked chicken for this recipe, especially one with a nice paprika, piri-piri, or charred flavor.

I used the exact same recipe as I had used on the bacalhau à Brás, but obviously, the way you prepare the fish and meat are different, so feel free to check the original recipe here.

Olive oil
3 onions, cut into fine half-moons (I chop the bigger pieces in half)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
400 g. (14 oz.) shredded, cooked chicken
500 g. (1.1 lbs) potato sticks (if you can’t get yourself some authentic batata frita palha, try French’s Potato Sticks or Utz Potato Stix). See example below, but please do not use any other shape!
8 free-range eggs, plus 4 egg yolks (save the remaining egg whites for a healthy omelette!)
Fresh parsley, to taste
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
Dark olives, to taste

Batata frita palha

1. Heat onions, garlic and bay leaf in a large pan with some olive oil on a low heat until the onions start to soften.
2. As the onions cook, combine the eggs and egg yolks in a separate bowl and give them a good stir.
3. Add the chicken to the onions and stir for a minute or two. Very important: keep the heat on low for the duration of the recipe.

Stirring the Frango à Brás

4. Add about 1/5 of the matchstick potato chips to the chicken and stir.
5. Add about 1/4 of the eggs to the chicken and stir very quickly, making sure not to let the egg cook at the bottom of the pan; instead, letting it cook into the chicken and chips. The entire thing should be creamy in texture.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5, leaving the potato chips until the end and giving them a good stir. Take the pan off the heat.
7. Finely chop the fresh parsley and stir in. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Remove the bay leaf.
8. Serve onto plates or a large serving tray and decorate with whole olives. Serve with a side of green leaf salad.

Needless to say, this dish is a hit with those with more carnivorous tastes, but I certainly got my “à Brás” fix too. Which version do you prefer? Bacalhau, chicken… or something more unusual?


Frango à Brás

Shown here without the optional olives

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  • Frank Teixeira
    September 19, 2017 at 1:19 am

    a bras can also be made with canned tuna, leftover fish of any kind, fresh sausages, turkey, alheira and virtually any combo of leftovers you may have. Personally, I tend to turn leftover meats, especially chicken, into bolinhos, remeniscent of of cod pasteis or into pataniscas to eat with rice and beans.

    • aportugueseaffair
      September 19, 2017 at 1:20 am

      Yes, it’s a great way to use up leftovers!

  • Gail at Large
    September 25, 2017 at 11:33 am

    We often have vegetarians staying with us, so we use substitute the codfish with cabbage and leeks. The vegetarians all love it, and we do, too — to the point where we eat the vegetarian version about a third of the time. And I often make the bacalhau version with the cabbage and/or leeks.

    We use 100g of bacalhau per person and if everyone is super hungry I add veggies. We do the egg part differently, though (doesn’t everyone?): we cook the onion first, add bacalhau, then throw on a layer of batata frita palha and turn off the heat. Then I crack the egg (one egg per person) on top of the stack of batata, stirring everything together slowly, making sure the egg mixes with the batatas first. The idea behind this is not to let the egg look like scrambled egg but just let it be a binding agent with the rest of the ingredients. Once it’s all mixed together, I add the parsley and serve.

    I prefer my batatas frita palha crunchy, so I save some and add it to my serving.

    • aportugueseaffair
      September 25, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you so much for your suggestions! I’ll have to try it with cabbage and leeks!

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