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~ Papo Secos: Portuguese Dinner/Sandwich Rolls ~

IMG_5384What I do not know about Portuguese food is a lot.  What I've learned has come from cookbooks, not hands-on experience.  Back in 1986, cookbook author Jean Anderson wrote The Food of Portugal.  It won the IACP Tastemaker Award that year for Best Foreign Cookbook.  Then, in 1993, Carol Robertson wrote Portuguese Cooking: The Authentic and Robust Cuisines of Portugal.  Since then, other Portuguese cookbooks have been written, but, these two trail blazers, still available on Amazon, have stood the test of time in my library.  They are full of need-to-know information and reliable recipes that work in the American home kitchen.  Why did I buy them?  Because I enjoy home-schooling myself on cuisines I know little about.

IMG_5254Long before The Food Network was throwing bacalhau (dried salt cod) into the Chopped mystery basket, I knew what it was. I also knew that pork is the most served meat in Portugal, and, Roast Pork w/Piri-Piri (p. 139 of Ms. Robertson's book) is an amazing meal.  One of many things I liked about Ms. Anderson's book was its bread section, most notably her easy-to-make, four-ingredient, Portuguese Country Bread and Bread Rolls (p. 225).

In a traditional Portuguese home, you will have a round loaf of this crusty bread or these oval rolls with practically every meal. Also known as "pops", "papo secos" translated into English means "pouch", which describes its shape. These floury rolls have a nice crust outside, and a soft-yet-chewy inside.  They're served alongside main dishes, dipped into stews and used to make sandwiches. While their shape is uniquely Portuguese, they are a great all-purpose roll for all sorts of American dishes too -- these are up there with the best sandwich rolls anywhere!

IMG_5397Because these are some of the best all-purpose sandwich rolls ever:

IMG_5264I reworked it so the dough could be mixed in my bread machine!

You can thank me later.  Once I made these rolls a couple of times, I realized just how much better my deli-style turkey, roast beef and Italian sub/hoagie-type sandwiches tasted on them.  I realized how much better my cheesesteak and pulled-pork sandwiches tasted on them too. Before long, I started making them in all sorts of shapes and sizes -- "a la", "in the style" of whatever type of sandwich I was serving.  It should go without saying, if you want to go old-school with my recipe, feel free to hand mix, knead and rise it the old-fashioned way -- it's cathartic fun. That said, unless I miss my guess, like mine, your family is going to want these often.  Isn't it nice to know there is a machine that can save you almost all of the work!    

1 3/4  cups hot water

2  teaspoons sugar

2  teaspoons salt

4  tablespoons salted butter, cut into cubes

5 1/2  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus, about 1/2-3/4 cup additional bench flour

1  package dry yeast granules, not Rapid-Rise yeast

IMG_5271 IMG_5265~ Step 1.  In a 2-cup measuring container, heat  water in the microwave.  Add butter cubes.  Add the sugar and salt.  Using a teaspoon, stir until butter melts.  

IMG_5283Add all liquid to the pan of the bread machine.

IMG_5289~ Step 2.  Using a large spoon, add the flour to the water.  Do not stir.  

IMG_5300Using your index finger, dig a shallow well in the top of the flour and add the yeast.  Note: This is "SOP" (Standard Operating Procedure) for bread machine recipes.  Liquid ingredients first, dry ingredients second, yeast last.

IMG_5307 IMG_5302~ Step 3.  As per the machine's instructions, insert the bread pan into the machine, select the dough cycle and push start. In my machine in 1 1/2 hours, I will have perfectly mixed and risen dough.  It'll be ready to punch down, shape into rolls, rise a 2nd time and bake.  Easy enough so far?

IMG_5323 IMG_5311~ Step 4. Remove dough from machine.

IMG_5319Transfer it to a board liberally sprinkled with flour. Briefly knead the dough, just to form it into a smooth ball, incorporating as little of the bench flour as possible.  

IMG_5327~ Step 5.  Using a kitchen scale as a measure, divide it into 16 portions and form each portion into a ball. Note:  42 ounces of dough, when divided, will be 16, slightly more than 2 1/2-ounce balls of dough.

IMG_5334~ Step 6. Pat each into a 3" round, slightly less than 1/2" thick disk.

IMG_5335 IMG_5339 IMG_5346Steps 7, 8 & 9.  Using the side of your hand (I find using the handle of a butter knife or a wooden spoon more consistent), make an indentation down the center of each disk. IMG_5358Fold each disc in half by pulling it up and over the indentation.  Pick it up, position it seam side down, then, pinch each end to form the classic pouch shape.  As you work, place 8 rolls on each of 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans than have been lined with parchment.  Cover each pan of rolls with a large flour-sack-type cotton towel and rise a second time, for 45 minutes.  While rolls are rising, heat oven to 375 degrees.

IMG_5395 IMG_5359~ Step 10. One pan at a time, bake rolls on center rack of preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer immediately to a cooling rack to cool completely. Rolls will be floury & crispy on the outside, and, soft & chewy inside.

It's 'Wichcraft:  Sandwich dreams are made of these!


Turkey today:

IMG_5428The Portuguese Pork Bifana tomorrow:

IMG_5623Toast in the morning too:

IMG_5710Papo Secos:  Portuguese Dinner/Sandwich Rolls:  Recipe yields 16, 4 1/2" oval rolls.

Special Equipment List:  bread machine; 2-cup measuring container; teaspoon; large spoon; large wooden pastry board; kitchen scale; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 2, large flour-sack-type towels 

IMG_2225 IMG_2208Cook's Note: ~ Pillowy-Soft Buttery-Rich Buttermilk Crescent Rolls ~.  What can I say. This recipe for dinner rolls, which also makes some great slider-sized sandwiches too, is another favorite of mine.  You can find it in Categories 5, 9, 11, 18 or 19!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)


Nicole -- "Bench Flour" is a term bakers use for some extra flour that is always kept at their workstation. When kneading dough, it is often necessary to sprinkle some extra flour onto the pastry board "the work bench" to keep the dough from sticking.

Hi! In the ingredients, it says to add "1/2-3/4 cup additional bench flour". This may be a silly question, but what is bench flour? I looked it up and can't find anything, did you mean bleached flour?

Chev -- Every oven is different. My Gaggenau's are slow to heat up, slow to cool down, but hold their temperature perfectly -- and, they are calibrated correctly. In my ovens, 375 degrees is perfect for these rolls. I am certain that my timing and temperature is correct for my ovens. I do hope this helps. Again, every oven is different.

375 degrees for 15 minutes doesn't seem like the right temperature. Is this correct or should it be 475?

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