The Portuguese stew cooked in the ground

On the misty Azores archipelago, locals dine on a totally unique dish: cozido das Furnas, a meat stew buried underground and cooked using natural heat.

São Miguel, the largest island in Portugal’s Azores archipelago, boasts one thing almost no other destination can offer: volcano-cooked stew. Hissing with geothermal heat, this lush island is famous for its traditional dish, cozido das Furnas, which involves burying various meats and vegetables in volcanic soil to cook. While this natural cooking method is energy efficient, it requires a high degree of patience. 

Chefs begin cooking cozido das Furnas by collecting ingredients in a pot: different cuts of meat and blood sausage, as well as vegetables like potatoes, cabbage and carrots. No liquid is added; instead the pot’s contents will stew in volcanic steam. Around 04:00 the morning after preparation, the pot is inserted into a 1m-deep hole at or near the hot springs at Furnas Lake, where the stew will cook at around 100°C for the next six to eight hours.

For the people of São Miguel, cozido das Furnas is more than a unique, time-intensive dish – it’s a central part of their heritage. The stew dates back at least 80 to 90 years, and the recipe and cooking method have been handed down through local families for generations. While cozido das Furnas began as a feast and Christmas dish, it is now much more widespread on the island, making it a must-try for any visitor.

(Video by Fernando Teixeria & Izabela Cardoso, text by Emily Cavanagh)

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