Tired of the same old BBQ marinades? The try this Espetada with a flavoursome infusion of garlic, bay leaves and Madeiran wine for kick-ass Portuguese BBQ vibes!
Bay leaves. One of the greater unsung heroes of the spice rack, am I right?
How many recipes do you make each year that tell you to add a bay leaf of two? I can imagine there are a lot, the humble leaf is everywhere. But, like some chorus dancer on a Broadway show, good old Bay leaf is always amongst the crowd and never in the spotlight.
I mean, how sad is that?
We all know Bay leaves are added for some sort of flavour, but what is the actual flavour of? Do we really know? Would we actually notice the difference if the bay leaf wasn’t there at all?
Well, it’s time we changed that.
Espetada to the rescue!
I think there has been a (fair sized) jar of bay leaves sitting in my pantry for quite a few years. Since most recipes only call for one or two leaves, it was taking time to get through it. But then: test, re-test, and then make and shoot a recipe that calls for so many bay leaves, each and every time and – BAM! – just like that my pantry is void of bay leaves!
But that’s fine because, when a recipe turns out this delicious, I’ll use as many bay leaves as I need.
Look out people, Bay Leaf is the “new” super star.
The recipe for Espetada is amazingly simple. As we’ve already discussed, bay leaves take the spotlight. They are followed by shallots (you can swap these for a brown/ red/ yellow/ white onion – I just like the flavour of shallots), Garlic, olive oil and…
Madeira wine is a dessert wine from – wait for it – Madeira (who knew!?); the small autonomous archipelago of Portugal off the coast of North Africa.
Now, seeing as Espetada is big in Madeiran cuisine, I wanted to try it with Madeiran wine. But, seeing as THE ONLY bottle of Madeiran wine at my local liquor store was a top of the range specimen (almost more expensive than my entire weekly grocery shopping) – I kinda gave it the shrug.
And I used cooking sherry in its place…
… and it turned out delicious.
I tried it again with Port – once again, same delicious result.
I then tried it with a much cheaper bottle of Madeiran wine: Delicious, absolutely, but could I tell the difference in the Espetada from the Madeiran wine and the other fortified wines.
Not really. Is that bad?
And finally, on the day of photographing this recipe I discovered I was out of Sherry, Port and Madeiran wine (which, now as I’m writing this sounds like I’ve been drinking far too much fortified wine lately!), so I grabbed the next best thing (or the nearest thing) from my liquor cabinet
Brandy! That goes well with beef, right?
And, as you guessed it, it turned out delicious once more. So, what I’m basically saying is that whatever you have on hand will probably (read: definitely) work fine. I think the flavour is more about the bay leaves for this one.
But, for tradition’s sake, Madeira Wine is the way to go!
Then it’s a simple matter of blending together the marinade ingredients, marinading the meat for some time (an hour or so, but up to six is highly recommended!) before threading it onto skewers along with cherry/ grape (or slices of) tomatoes and green bell pepper.
Then grill, broil, BBQ, or bake these flavoursome Espetada skewers to kick-ass foodie perfection!
Until next time foodies!
Espetada – Portuguese Beef and Bay Leaf Skewers
Tired of the same old BBQ marinades? The try this Portuguese Espetada with a flavoursome infusion of garlic, bay leaves and Madeiran wine!
- Prep Time: 20 Minutes
- Cook Time: 15 to 20 Minutes
- Total Time: 46 minute
- Yield: 8 - 12 Skewers
For the Marinade:
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 15 bay leaves
- 50g shallots
- ¼ cup Madeiran wine (see note)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the Skewers:
- 600g of Beef (such as strip steak, tenderloin, sirloin) cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 Green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Generous handful of cherry tomatoes
Place all the marinade ingredients in a small food processor/ blender and process until smooth. Combine the marinade with the beef cubes in a bowl until evenly combines, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour – but overnight is highly recommended
Remove from the fridge at least ½ hour before intending to cook so the meat can get to room temperature. Thread the marinated beef chunks onto skewers, alternating with the green pepper pieces and cherry tomatoes.
Cook the skewers on a BBQ/ Grill or under a broiler
If you do not have access to Madeiran wine, good substitutes (tried and tested) are Port, Sherry, or even Brandy!