Arroz Gordo


Rich Savoury Rice

Image from Rogério P.D. da Luz

This is an impressive dish for a feast. Here we include two historical versions; the one by Maria Celestina de Mello e Senna is quite elaborate, using a variety of meats.

Arroz Gordo from Carmen O’Brien, courtesy of Yvonne Husband


2 onions, chopped

2 tbsp oil

1 small tub tomato paste

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp salt

2 tsp powdered chicken stock

4 cups white raw rice

Method 1


pieces of roast chicken

Portuguese or Spanish chouriço sausages, sliced


black olives

hardboiled eggs, sliced

fried shallots

bread croutons, cut in small cubes and fried

When rice has been cooked, put on a large platter and decorate with the topping.

Arroz Gordo from “Guilly” Canavarro Remedios


1 tin tomato paste

1 whole chouriço*

¼ lb | 110g sliced Chinese ham

2 dsp chouriço oil

1 chicken (2½ lb | 1.1kg)

16 sections cebola seca

3 oz | 85g small raisins

4 hardboiled eggs

1 potato cut in fine strips

6-8 dsp lard

12 slices stale bread

* The original specified paio but Macanese often call chouriço paio.

Cut the chicken into big chunks, put into a pan with just enough water to cover the meat. Add half a tsp of salt, bring to the boil then simmer till tender.

Peel the cebola seca and cut into very thin slices lengthwise. Wash raisins and wipe quite dry. Boil the eggs till quite hard; peel. Take two eggs and cut across in half, and decorate the ends of the rounds in a zigzag or any fancy shape. Cut the other two eggs lengthwise into quarters or eighths.

Cut potatoes into very fine strips and put these aside.

Put the rice in the pan, add water or soup, put in the tomato paste, chouriço and chouriço oil and ½ – 1 tsp of salt, cover the lid tightly and let it boil. After 5 mins boiling give the rice a good stir to integrate the taste of the tomato and chouriço but do this as rapidly as possible as otherwise the rice may not be well cooked. Close lid tightly and let it simmer at very low heat for ½ – 1 hour.

In the meantime, put the lard in a frying pan and when quite hot fry the cebola seca in slices till golden brown and drain on the paper. In the same way fry in turn the pieces of chicken the potato strips, the raisins and lastly the bread cut in thin slices. The cebola seca is fried first so that the flavour of it in the lard will infuse the rest of the fried ingredients.

When all the above has been fried to a golden colour, spread the rice over a large platter. Cut the chouriço in thin neat slices and put all over the top, then sprinkle over the cebola seca then add the potatoes, then ham, chicken and lastly the fried bread slices. Decorate the top with the cut eggs.

Arroz Gordo from Maria Celestina de Mello e Senna. To read the original recipe (in Portuguese) click HERE.

3 lb 5 oz | 1.5kg of Basmati rice

1 chicken, washed and cut into l8 pieces

12 oz | 330g pork

8 oz | 220g veal

1 pig’s trotter (not too large)

1 lb | 450g tomatoes, dice

2 onions, diced

1 dried onion, diced

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

cooking oil

slices of Portuguese sausage (“chouriço”)

2 slices of bread, cubed and deep fried until brown

a few stuffed olives

Part 1: Season the chicken, pork, veal and the pig’s trotter with salt and pepper and let stand for a little while.

Part 2: Sauté the onion in a little oil; when just turning yellow, add the tomatoes and sauté gently until almost dry then remove promptly from the fire.

Part 3: Fry the chicken, pork and veal in a little lard. Add enough water almost to cover the meat and simmer until tender. The pig’s trotter is similarly browned and cooked until tender, but separately so that the gravy will not be too rich and sickening.

Part 4: This is the most important part. Remove the meats from the stove, separating the juices.Rinse the rice well in water and season with salt.

Add the the juices and enough water to cook the rice*. Bring to the boil covered; when boiling, lift the lid and stir qluickly with a wooden spoon and immediately replace the lid.

Reduce the heat to very low for about half an hour or until cooked.

Mix the puréed tomatoes with all the meats and let stand for a few minutes so that the tomatoes will absorb the flavour of the meats.

Remove the meats to another container and stir the tomatoes well through the cooked rice.

Arrange the rice in two mounds and array the meats and the pig’s trotter around.

Discard the fluid from the pig’s trotter as it will be too fatty.

Decorate with white sultanas, sliced sausage, fried bread and olives.

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