Back in the XVI century, the Portuguese Jewish community, following tradition, did not eat sausage because it was made with pork. During the inquisition, in the Trás os Montes region, one way of finding the “conversos”, those who had converted to christianism but still practiced judaism, was by noticing that they had no sausages hanging from their smoke houses. So, in order to go unnoticed, they came up with their own sausage made with chicken , veal, duck, rabbit and pheasant – the Alheira.
The name derives from “alho” , garlic, which is one of the main ingredients along with sweet paprika, breadcrumbs olive oil and salt. Milder in flavor and less pungent than chouriço or linguiça, the alheira has become a highly popular dish in Portuguese cuisine. Many varieties have derived from it so you will now even find some made with pork.
Served half open on a bed of salad, garnished with orange wedges and mint is all you want to accompany a nice glass of red or white Douro wine. A homage to Jewish culture, known for its innovative qualities, the alheira is the result of how a group of people made the best out a bad “sausage” situation creating thus one of the greatest delicacies of northern Portugal.
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