Azorean Beef Stew (Molha de Pico)

Molha de Pico, is an Azorean style Beef stew which originates in the island of Pico. Pico is the only island in the Azores where it snows and is the highest point in all of Portugal. With Molha de Pico, this style of cooking beef was used by the settlers of Pico to utilize all the ingredients and cook them long enough to bring out all the rich flavors in unison. This recipe uses a pressure cooker to emulate the style of cooking.

2 lbs chuck beef, cut into bite-size cubes
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound potatoes
2 Tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cinnamon stick

1) Toss the meat, garlic, paprika, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl, combine well and let rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

2) Sauté the onions and other garlic cloves in a pan on medium heat with the rest of the olive oil until browned. Add the tomato paste and cook another minute or so, then add the wine, stir it well.

3) Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.

4) Add the meat and potatoes to the pressure cooker.

5) Pour the sauce on top of the meat and potatoes, add the bay leaf, cumin, and cinnamon stick. Stir it all together well.

6) Close up the pressure cooker and cook on high heat for 30 minutes.

7) Let it sit for 5 minutes. Serve while hot.


  1. Miriam Bernardo

    Actually, the highest point or peak in all of Portugal is in Serra da Estrella in the Guarda region. That’s also where our first national hero, Viriato, was from.

    • Pbicudo1

      Unfortunately, that is only the case for continental Portugal. Pico is the tallest point, all things being considered. Being Azorean myself, this is one of our more prideful areas of note!

    • hs

      @Miriam Bernardo……. please see the following!
      Serra Da Estrela and Ponta do Pico are the highest mountains in Portugal. Specifically, Serra Da Estrela [‘Mountain Range of the Star’] is the highest mountain on mainland Portugal. At its highest point, it measures 6,539 feet/1993 meters above sea level. Its highest point in fact isn’t a summit. Instead, it’s a geographical feature called a ‘torre’ [‘tower’] that may be accessed by a paved road. It’s located near the municipalities of Seia, Manteigas, Gouveia, and Covilhã. Its coordinates are 40 degrees 20 minutes North and 7 degrees 38 minutes West. Ponta do Pico [‘Mount Pico’] is the highest mountain if the question doesn’t consider just mainland Portugal. Pico is located on Ilha do Pico [‘Pico Island’], within Portugal’s Região Autónoma dos Açores [‘Autonomous Region of the Azores’]. It reaches a height of 7,713 feet/2,351 meters. Its coordinates are 38 degrees 28 minutes North and 28 degrees 24 minutes West.The highest point in Portugal is Pico island, in the Azores, at 2014 metres.

  2. Miriam Bernardo

    @HS thanks for sharing – we learn something everyday.pbicudu1 I don’t make the distinction between continental Portuguese and Azorean or Madeiran etc except as different regions of Portugal no different than people from Tras os Montes or Mongolia/Douro region. If this is a point of pride for those from Pico in the Azores than it should be a point of pride for all of Portugal – after all we are ALL Portuguese whatever area of Portugal we originate from it was our shared ancestors that ensured that our borders have not changed for the longest amount of time in Europe – that’s a point of pride. Our shared history and culture – something no Portuguese should ever forget regardless where they are from in Portugal.

  3. Miriam Bernardo

    Sorry not Mongolia tried to type Minho…..all various areas in the North of continental Portugal.

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