‘Carne Cachena da Peneda’ is a Portuguese beef with PDO status that is celebrated for its succulence, textural qualities and distinctive flavor. These cows are the smallest type of cattle in Portugal, as well as also being one of the smallest breeds globally. The cattle are raised on pasture and are sold as three different meat products based on age. ‘Vitelo’, the suckling calf, is the most tender of these varieties. As per the requirements the animals are slaughtered when they have a live weight within the range of 70 and 120 kg, which generally means they are between four and nine months old. The weaning calf is called ‘Novilho’ and this refers to the animals slaughtered from nine months to two years of age. Like the vitelo, its aroma and taste reflect the natural feeding of these calves. ‘Vaca’ refers to the meat of adult cows, ranging between three and five years old. This beef is not as tender as the previous classes but still reflects their long grazing periods and is just as succulent and tasty. These cattle feed on natural meadows in both winter and summer in well-defined areas called ‘brandas’. The uniqueness of this breed comes from this diet, which is marked by such significant exposure to the vegetation of these high mountain pastures. Seasonal migration between the valleys and higher plains is better defined from the beginning of spring until the end of fall and it is during this nine-month period that the animals are exclusively fed on the natural shrubs and grass. During the winter the pastures generally used are those meadows near urban centers. As natural vegetation is not as abundant in this period, trough feeding twice a day complements their diet. No commercial feed or goods from outside the production area can be used and so the cattle are fed solely the hay and straw obtained from local pastures. The initial introduction of the PDO on the market has resulted in a huge demand. This cannot yet be met by the product, as there are currently only around 40 producers. It is important to maintain this commitment to quality and every step along the chain from producer to consumer is carefully overseen.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.