Portuguese Carne Assada

This Portuguese carne assada from David’s VERY Portuguese Momma Leite, is a traditional Azorean braised beef dish made with meltingly tender meat, small red potatoes, chouriço, and onions.

A white bowl with carne assada--braised beef with carrots, potatoes, and Portuguese sausage, chouriço

This is my mom’s version of the traditional Azorean dish, a Portuguese carne assada em vinha d’alhos. Actually, it’s not quite her version. I’ve tweaked it a bit by searing the beef first for extra flavor, something Portuguese cooks usually don’t do. It has something of a spicy kick, which is common in the islands. Have a chunk of chewy bread nearby to mop up the molho (sauce).


Oh, and one last thing. Momma Leite talks about “brown potatoes” when she discusses her recipe on our podcast. What she means by that is the potatoes end up absorbing the molho and hence have a brownish blush.–David Leite

Momma Leite's Portuguese Carne Assada

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 1 H, 10 M
  • 6 H, 30 M
  • Serves 8 to 10
5/5 - 2 reviews
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In a large nonreactive bowl, combine the garlic, wine, tomato paste, oregano, bay leaves, both types of paprika, the pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the beef, turn to coat, cover, and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight, turning the beef several times.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and crank the heat to 325°F (163°C).

Remove the bowl from the fridge and transfer the beef and garlic cloves to a plate, reserving the marinade. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper.

In an ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When hot, sear the beef until nicely browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the plate. Do not wipe out the Dutch oven.

Reduce the heat to medium. If the pot is dry, drizzle in a little more oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes more.

Pour the reserved marinade and water into the pot and bring to a boil. Nestle in the beef, cover tightly, and put it in the oven to braise, turning the meat and basting it every 20 minutes or so, until almost falling apart tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Add the chouriço, potatoes, and carrots to the Dutch oven and continue to braise the meat, covered, for 30 minutes more.

Transfer the beef to a bowl, ladle some of the cooking liquid over the meat, and cover with foil to keep warm. Bump up the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C), slide the pot back into the oven, and roast the vegetables and sausage in the remaining cooking liquid, uncovered, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, 15 to 30 minutes more.

Transfer the vegetables and sausage to the bowl with the meat and skim any fat from the sauce in the pot. If the sauce seems too liquidy to form a sauce, place it over medium heat and simmer it until it’s reduced to the desired consistency. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

To serve, slice the chouriço on the diagonal into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces. Center the beef on a platter, remove the string, and arrange the sausage and vegetables around the roast. Ladle a bit of the sauce on top, sprinkle with parsley, and pass the rest of the sauce on the side.

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Recipe Testers' Tips

This Portuguese carne assada is an international twist on what could be likened to a standard pot roast dinner but with way more zip and flavor. It will require a full afternoon in the kitchen but still allows you time to catch up on a favorite book or show in between checking the meat. I highly recommend making this on a cloudy Sunday in autumn as your belly will be fully satisfied for the week ahead.

I used a bottle of Pinot Noir from A to Z Vineyards in Oregon and regular tomato paste. I marinated the meat for 2 hours. I had enough liquid to entirely cover the meat so no turning of the meat was necessary. The sauce was a nice consistency, not too thin or thick and no additional simmer time was needed. This meal will serve 12 and will a be a great meal to have as leftovers during the week.

I thought this carne assada was a delicious and flavorful roast.

I used a Casa del Toro Cabernet/Merlot blend and marinated the roast overnight.

The roast has tons of flavor from the paprika, wine, and garlic. I will definitely make this again without the sausage just to please the house critics. (My tasters liked the dish but didn't care for the addition of the sausage.)

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