Typically served for weddings and feast days, this is perfect for Christmas Day. It is a very traditional dish in the town of Poiares on the mainland. Traditionally this is cooked in a black clay pot . In the Azores it is called a caçoila. You can use a metal roasting pan as well. This recipe, adapted from mother Julia, can be cut in half. .
8 pounds bone-in leg of lamb or goat meat, cut into 3 –inch pieces
10 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 large fresh mint leaf
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce or crushed dried chili pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt
3 cups red wine or enough to cover meat completely
½ cup olive oil
1-2 large onions thickly sliced
4 ounces salt pork or 3 thick slices bacon- , coarsely chopped
1. Place the meat in a roasting pan or bowl. With the exception of the wine, olive oil, onion and bacon, mix the garlic, bay leaf, mint, parsley paprika, chili, salt in a small bowl. Rub over the meat and turn the meat to coat evenly.
2. Some cooks add the wine as follows. Pour the wine over the meat, covering it completely. Drizzle the olive oil over. Turning the meat occasionally, let it stand, covered overnight or several hours, in the refrigerator.
3. Next day: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
A. If you are using a metal roasting pan, remove the pan from the refrigerator ½ hour before cooking while the oven is preheating.
B. If you have not marinated the meat in the wine overnight, pour the wine in now. Scatter the onions and bacon over the meat.
C. If you are using a clay pot, grease it first, then transfer the meat and wine into the pot. Do not place in a preheated oven as the pot may crack. Place the pot in a cold oven. Clay pots also cause the liquid to evaporate more quickly.
4. Place the pan in the preheated oven or clay pot in the cold oven and cook for about 2 hours, uncovered, until fork tender.Serve with boiled potatoes.
Note: In Portugal, the meat is different, the ovens are hotter, wood fired for this dish and the results are a bit different but this dish is flavorful nonetheless.