Arroz de Pato – Portuguese Duck Rice

Arroz de Paro in ready-meal form

The other day, I was at a lunch with a number of other expats, several of whom could be fairly described as “foodies.”

One of them asked me my favourite Portuguese dish. She seemed a little disappointed with my response, perhaps because it wasn’t something very exciting.

I chose arroz de pato – Portuguese duck rice.

The usual place to find arroz de pato is in the small “hole-in-the-wall” style local takeaways that you find all over the Algarve.

There’s nothing remotely complicated about arroz de pato – it is simply rice, cooked up with shredded duck, a couple of chunks of chorizo and sometimes the odd lump of pork or bacon. The success of the dish is, I think, in the detail. The rice should be agulha (please correct me if I’m wrong), which seems to be somewhere between long-grain rice and the short Arborio rice used in risotto.

The rice is clearly cooked in a good, rich stock, and the flavour is enhanced by a good few drops of piri piri sauce.

It’s perfect, rustic comfort food and also, strangely, a suitable substitute when I might (in the UK) have grabbed a Chinese special fried rice.

Arroz de Paro in ready-meal form

Arroz de Paro in ready-meal form

I haven’t yet made an arroz de pato, even though some supermarkets have recently started selling pre-shredded duck along with a big sachet of duck stock. Continente have also recently begun to sell a ready-meal variation which is strangely agreeable (despite the unnecessary inclusion of carrots), though no substitute for the huge containers-full we buy at our local takeaway.

If you find yourself in Portugal and fancy a quick and easy lunch, keep an eye out for arroz de pato on the specials board. Splash on some piri piri, watch out for little bones (this is, after all, a rustic dish), and enjoy!

Arroz de pato was part of the very first meal we enjoyed on the day we began our new life in Portugal.