Where does Cozido das Furnas originate?
Just outside the village of Furnas, set amongst steaming rocks and pools on the side of an atmospheric lake, you’ll find a burial ground for the area’s surprising dish, Cozido das Furnas. These cooking holes have been passed down through the generations. Many families or restaurants have their own cooking hole, where they make this uniquely-cooked food.
How do you make Cozido das Furnas?
Furnas village itself is perched upon a volcanic warren of geothermal springs. Each day, before sunrise, the restaurant owners drive up Furnas’ misty roads to the lakeside to bury a huge metallic pot. This pot contains the ingredients of the famous Cozido das Furnas, including carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage, and taro root. These flavours combine with meat-lovers’ delights, such as pig ears, chouriço, chicken, beef, ham, pork belly and blood sausage. The pot is then covered with earth and left to cook very slowly for up to seven hours.
After the geothermal heat has cooked the meat and vegetables, the flavours are infused throughout. Then the wooden, round shield-shaped cover is lifted off the spot to reveal the huge steaming pot. Around midday each day, restaurant owners come down to the lakeshore to collect their dish. Two people grab a handle on each side to heave the steaming pot out of the ground. All this happens with an audience of several tourists and visitors, who arrived specifically to watch the spectacle, much to the bemusement of the local workers.
This meal consists of chunky, local land-based produce. Once the geothermal heat has done its job, it’s time to serve up the soft, flavoursome meats and veggies in the village restaurants.
Where are the best places to eat Cozido das Furnas?
Some of the best restaurants to eat Cozido das Furnas are Vale das Furnas, which includes high-quality smokey sausages and big chunky veggies served up on colourful plates; and the stylish restaurant of the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, which offers the Furnas stew as one of its specialities. Staying at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel also gives you access to its natural thermal pools, one of which exudes an orange tinge, due to its iron content.
How to get to Furnas in São Miguel, Azores
Portugal’s airline, TAP Portugal runs regular flights to the capital of São Miguel, Ponta Delgada, from Lisbon and Porto, while Ryanair also has a number of direct flights from the UK. From Ponta Delgada, you can arrange a transfer to Furnas village, which is around a 45-minute drive.