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A Portuguese Tapas Party

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A new spin on the cocktail party, inspired by Portuguese small plates.

This menu serves 12

In Portugal, these little dishes are called acepipes. They’re similar to tapas, but they’re not tapas; they’re far more interesting. Potato skin curls (fried strips of potato skin tossed with fresh herbs) and salt cod fritters (potato-crab-cod nuggets) are irresistible. A green olive spread is reminiscent of an indulgent mayonnaise-like dip, though it contains no eggs. Gazpacho makes an appearance, but in shot glasses garnished with frozen cucumber slices and tomato juice ice cubes. There are homemade pickled onions and flame-blistered chunks of sausage. Together, these Portuguese nibbles make a great spread, one that is easily replenished over the course of the evening. Keep the food coming, keep the bar stocked (for wine recommendations, see below), and it’s sure to be a festa to remember.

Menu Timeline

5 days to 2 months ahead

  • Make the pickled onions.

2 to 7 days ahead

  • Make the marinated olives.

Up to 3 days ahead

  • Make the base for the olive spread.
  • Make the cookies.

1 day ahead

  • Soak the cod for the fritters
  • Make the gazpacho. Freeze the cucumber slices and make the tomato juice ice cubes.

Up to 2 hours ahead

  • Pare the potato skins.
  • Prepare the salt cod and crab fritters.
  • Arrange the cheese plate.

15 minutes ahead

  • Warm the olives.
  • Toast the baguette for the olive spread.
  • Finish the olive spread.
  • Fry the salt cod and crab fritters.

Before you serve

  • Prepare the Fireman’s Sausage.
  • Pour the gazpacho into chilled cups and garnish.
  • Make the potato skin curls.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 5 lb. medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2-1/2 lb. very ripe tomatoes
  • 3/4 lb. (3 to 3-1/2 cups) fresh or frozen small white or yellow pearl onions (1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter)
  • 1 medium English cucumber
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 1 small fresh hot red chile, such as cayenne or piquin
  • 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • Additional fresh herbs, for the potato skin curls (such as parsley, marjoram, or summer savory)
  • 3 medium oranges
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 1 fresh, ripe pineapple for serving with the sausage (optional)
  • fresh and/or dried fruits for the cheese plate (optional)

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 1-1/2 to 2 lb. dry-cured Portuguese chouriço, linguiça, or Spanish chorizo
  • 8 oz. dried salt cod
  • 8 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • Cheeses for the cheese plate (see suggestions below)

Other Groceries

  • 1 loaf rustic bread, plus more for serving with the cheese plate
  • 1 baguette
  • 2-1/3 cups pitted brined green olives, preferably picholine
  • 1-1/4 cups tomato juice
  • 1 cup pitted brined black olives, preferably Kalamata
  • 1 cup grappa or brandy
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 12 large oil-packed anchovy fillets

Pantry Staples

  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 1-2/3 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil; more for frying the salt cod fritters
  • 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large or 3 small dried Turkish bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce; more to taste
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Generous pinch of ground allspice
  • Kosher salt
  • black peppercorns
  • white peppercorns

The Cheese Plate
For an authentic touch, try these Portuguese selections and serve them with the pickled onions.

A hard cow’s milk cheese: Opt for a full-flavored, tangy Cheddar-like choice with peppery undertones, such as São Jorge.

A soft goat cheese: A yielding goat cheese, like the rustic Gardunha, makes a great addition to the plate. Made with thistle flower—a naturally occurring vegetal rennet—Gardunha has an earthy, robust flavor.

A semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese: A mild one, such as the lemony Évora, balances the more robust choices. With a light yellow color, Évora is reminiscent of a fresh olive oil.

What to Drink
Stock the bar with a selection of Portuguese wines that go with the mix of dishes in this menu

Vinho Verde For a refreshing (and very affordable) white, try the light and fruity Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde or crisp, medium-dry Aliança Vinho Verde.

Vinho do Dão For a red, the spicy Quinta de Cabriz Tinto stands up well to the strong flavors here, as would the bold Quinta das Maias Tinto, with its rich dark-fruit notes.

White Port The bright, pale-gold Fonseca Siroco or the slightly drier Ramos Pinto makes an elegant, easy-drinking choice. Serve chilled in a small 6- to 9-oz. port glass with a wide bowl and a slender rim. Enjoy it straight or poured over ice, and brightened with a lemon twist. For a simple cocktail, try it blended with an equal part of tonic.

The Menu

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