Members of The Manchester Club always look forward to the group’s monthly dinner meetings at The American Legion Hall. After all, there are just ten meetings a year. The menu for each meeting is paradoxically predictable (the dish is scheduled and largely the same, year after year) and highly anticipated, because it’s culled to a refined list of dishes prepared by members on kitchen detail.
In March, we profiled the “Mort Mayo Haddock Dinner” team, manned by Todd Crane and his team. The Mort Mayo meal has been prepared every March for over 50 years. Before Todd, his father Bill cooked the fish dinner for the club.
With that said, there is a relatively new meal that has scampered into the pantheon of the highly anticipated Manchester Club meals, and that is Ken Davis’ Portuguese Pot Roast, a fork-tender beef roast with an exotically spiced sauce that is best sopped up with the Portuguese sweet bread served with the dish. On Thursday, Ken and his kitchen squad will make that meal.
Oddly, Ken Davis says he’s not really a cook. In fact, he only knows how to make the pot roast dish for 150 people, minimum. And that’s because Ken Davis, besides being the manager of the Manchester branch of the Cape Ann Savings Bank — and an honorary member of the Manchester Club — is the nephew of Eugene Loring Alves, former pastor of Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester. This meal (called “Carne Asada”) is the quintessential Azorean meal served for the Feast of the Crown at Pentecost.
Ken and his cousins worked alongside his uncle, who was the pastor of the Portuguese church for 42 years until he died earlier this year, to make this beef roast, marinated overnight in wine and spices and then cooked for the community to mark the crowing of the king and queen of the festival. The church has been a staple of the Portuguese community on Cape Ann. And this meal is a staple of the church.
Ken’s version of the meal differs slightly from “the way it’s supposed to be.” First, he added stewed tomatoes to the dish. Then, in an act of near heresy, he changed the bread accompaniment from the loaves made by the church to those made at the Portuguese Men’s Club. (Ken prefers that bread.) Here’s the recipe, scaled down and tested for 6–8 people.
The Manchester Club Portuguese Pot Roast
- 4–5 lb. Chuck beef roast
- 1 loaf, Portuguese sweet bread
- 2 cups cheap Chablis
- 2–3 bay leaves
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- All spice berries
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4–5 cloves of garlic
- 2 cans stewed Italian style tomatoes
- Beef bouillon
- 1 each – green, red and yellow pepper (diced)
- 1 large sweet onion
- Cut the beef into 2- to 3-inch cubes. Then, combine the balance of the ingredients to create the marinade. Add beef to submerge. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 300. Place beef and marinade into an oven-proof, heavy pot, and cook for 4–6 hours, until fork-tender. Serve with sauce and a big slice of sweet bread.