The espetada (similar to the South African sosatie) is a typical Portuguese dish made usually of beef rubbed with salt and garlic, skewered on a bay leaf stick, and braaied on an open fire.

The meat is normally served with bolo do caco (a traditional flat bread) or milho frito (fried cornmeal) to soak up the meat juices. For us, however, the best way to enjoy this flavourful meat, is on a buttered, freshly baked Portuguese roll – no cutlery required!


Traditional Espetada

Preparation time: 15 min.

Cooking time: 10 min.



Good-quality rump, cut into 4─5 cm cubes (fat trimmed)

Bay leaves & bay leaf branches

Coarse salt

Chopped garlic (optional)

Chopped chillies (optional)



The original espetada from Madeira is very easy to prepare. Simply cut a good piece of rump into 4─5 cm cubes, rub with coarse salt, and thread onto a cleaned bay leaf branch. Grill over an open fire while occasionally throwing some bay leaves on the coals – this adds a wonderful flavour to the meat.

If you prefer something spicier, you can add freshly chopped garlic and chilli to your salt rub, or personalize it by using your favourite rub.

If you can’t get hold of fresh bay leaf branches, you can also use normal wooden skewers. Before use, soak the skewers for 24 hours in a 2-litre plastic bottle filled with water and a dash of lemon juice or wine vinegar – this will prevent the exposed skewer from burning (find more handy braai tips here ).

Braai over hot coals to your desired doneness. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for a few minutes. Remove the meat from the skewers and serve with fresh Portuguese rolls and a crisp green salad. Delicious accompanied by any of ReedValley’s robust reds!

Recipe: Chef Cello Santos