Serra da Estrela cheese


Serra da Estrela cheese, more commonly known as Serra cheese, is undoubtedly one of Portugal’s most renowned products. The father of all Portuguese sheep’s milk cheeses and one of the 7 Wonders of the Portuguese Gastronomy, Serra cheese is full of personality and charisma and has all the conditions to build a bright future for the gastronomic identity of Portugal.

Its history tells us that the introduction of sheep’s milk cheese in the Iberian Peninsula is Roman heritage. D. Dinis, known as the Farmer King (reigning from 1279 to 1325), founded the first cheese market in the Middle Ages in Celorico da Beira. Produced in winter, particularly between November and March, it was once said that its success depended on the temperature of the hands of the women who produced it in the cold granite typical houses of the region. Today a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) product, it has its own legislation, strict food safety standards and a specified region. Its manufacture is limited to Beira Alta and Beira Baixa regions.

The manufacturing ritual remains intact, respecting the same tradition of hundreds of years ago. The shepherds leave early in the morning, to return only in the evening. Their wives and daughters make the cheese according to techniques learnt from their ancestors. The shepherd carefully chooses the pasture for his sheep, knowing that certain herbs give the milk a bad taste and this is the very essence of his task. Every day the shepherd milks the sheep at nightfall, after which his wife prepares the milk to make the cheese, which should always come from the same milking.

The milk is curdled and then put into a cheese mould and manually pressed to extract all the serum for no less than 30 days, in drying rooms under controlled temperature and humidity. Depending on its maturation, the cheese becomes buttery or thicker. It acquires a unique, smooth and exquisite aroma and taste.


With such devotion and tradition, we handed the Serra cheese to CARM (Casa Agrícola Roboredo Madeira), which offered as a complement to such a prestigious cheese a no less prestigious wine, a Douro red wine, a CARM 2011, 100% Touriga Nacional with primary aromas of black cherries and berries, ideal to savour with cheese.

But that was not all… we placed this precious product in the hands of chef Vitor Adão, from Casa Samaiões Hotel, a young promise of Portuguese cuisine who recently won the Gold Medal in the “Gastronomia com Vinho do Porto” competition and to whom we issued a challenge. We asked him to surprise us with a noble and unique use of Serra cheese. The result is a sublime dessert, full of tradition and exceptional Portuguese flavours (rice pudding, Abade de Priscos pudding, Serra cheese crisp and Serra cheese skewer )... Divine and certainly also worthy of historical record.

Traditional montain flavour confectionery

Rice pudding


. 400g rice
. 1,2l water
. 400g sugar
. 40g butter
. 1l milk
. 1Orange
. 1 lemon zest
. 2 cinnamon sticks
. Pinch of salt


1. Put the water, lemon zest, orange and cinnamon sticks in water to boil. When boiling, add the rice and a pinch of salt.

2. When the water evaporates, add the milk and allow the mixture to reduce. Incorporate the sugar.

3. Beat the yolks, add them and then add the sugar.

Abade de priscos pudding


. 1l water
. 500g sugar
. 1 cinnamon stick
. 100g bacon
. 100g prosciutto
. 1 lemon zest
. 1 orange zest
. 300g yolks


1. Place all the ingredients except the yolks in a saucepan and bring up to a temperature of 121ºC, for approximately 2 minutes.

2. Sieve the mixture and incorporate the egg yolks.

3. Line the inside of the pudding mould with caramel (1kg sugar /1l water, boil until caramel is ready).

4. Bake at 100ºC or dou­ble boil for 45 minutes

Raspberry sauce


. 300g raspberries
. 150g sugar
. 50ml water
. 1 cinnamon stick


1. Place everything in a pan and boil for 5 minutes.

2. Sieve and grind everything.

Serra cheese crisp


. 200g Serra cheese 


1. Mould the cheese into small balls.

2. Sauté both sides of the cheese.

3. Roll it into a stainless steel tube.

Serra Cheese Skewer


. 200g Serra cheese
. 1 egg
. Pinch of flour
. Breadcrumbs


1. Mould the cheese into small 30 g balls.

2. Coat them with the breadcrumbs, in the following order: flour, egg, flour, egg, breadcrumbs

3. Fry them in oil at 180ºC.



Place the elements in a circular mould in the following order: the rice pudding, the raspberry sauce, the pudding. Finish assembling with a slice of cheese moulded with the torch.


Cut the pudding into cubes, place them on the tiles, accompanied by some Serra cheese balls and Abade de Priscos cream (crushed pudding). Decorate with pea and beetroot sprouts.


Teresa Santos [General-Secretary APTECE]