Legendary Dishes | Espetada Madeirense (garlic beef)


The Portuguese take the quality of their beef very seriously, to the extent that it might be considered the best in Europe. The barrosa, maronesa and mirandesa breeds raised in the Barroso marshes produce a dark red meat that is succulent and tender, while beef from the alentejana and arouquesa breeds is perfect for the types of meat dishes the Portuguese covet. One such dish is so popular it is attracting food lovers to the Madeira archipelago. Yet it is nothing more than skewered cubes of beef coated in crushed bay, garlic and sea salt grilled over hot embers. Nothing more? Nothing less than mature loin meat cut into 4 cm cubes. Nothing less than fresh garlic. Nothing less than unblemished aromatic bay leaves. Nothing less than flôr de sal. And nothing less than a smokeless fire (or a hot grill)!

  • 1 kg beef fillet / loin / sirloin, cubed
  • 3 garlic bulbs, crushed
  • 10 g flôr de sal or coarse sea salt
  • 10 bay leaves, crushed
  • Olive oil

Coat cubed meat in oil, then bay and garlic. Pierce the cubes with a metal skewer or a sharp bay stick. Spread the salt on a plate and roll the skewered meat in the salt. Suspend the skewers over a hot fire, made with seasoned wood, or under a hot grill on a tray to collect juices. When the meat starts to brown, turn and repeat until a crust has formed. Shake off the salt, serve with salad and piri piri sauce.