Butelo e Casulas
Before Lent, residents of Trás-os-Montes indulge in a pairing of stuffed pork stomach and bean pods.
In the northeastern corner of Portugal, locals in the historic mountain province of Trás-os-Montes cook a traditional, yet distinct, pork sausage alongside whole bean pods in a pairing known as butelo e casulas. Cooks make butelo by stuffing a pig’s stomach with rib bones, vertebrae cartilage, and rump meat. The heavy winter dish is comforting, savory, and rich, the perfect way to celebrate pre-Lenten indulgence before fasting season begins.
Preparing butelo e casulas is no easy feat. Historically, residents of the region butchered a pig, then processed it into a meat-filled stomach pouch that could be smoked in the fireplace for weeks at a time. After harvesting casulas, farmers left the bean pods to dry out in the sun. Cooks re-hydrate the beans a day before cooking them as an accompaniment to the offal sausage.
Because the process of assembling and preparing the seemingly-simple duo is time-consuming, involved, and requires access to almost an entire pig and local beans, it’s become increasingly difficult to find. However, each year, the capital city of Bragança in Trás-os-Montes honors butelo e casulas during winter festival season. Some 25 local establishments prepare a version of the dish in February as part of a decadent last hurrah before Lent.