Churrasco: Grilling the Brazilian Way, written by Evandro Caregnato, features the grilling and gaucho culture of southern Brazil with over 70 recipes and a full history from the creation of roadside venues to the Churrascarias today that have grown in popularity around the world. A variety of grilled meats are included (Gaucho Kebabs, Pork Ribs with Yucca Flour, Lamb Roasted on the Ground) along with other Brazilian favorites (Feijoada- Pork and Black Bean Stew) and sides (Squash Ravioli, Fried Polenta Stuffed with Cheese, Lobster Bisque, Cream of Jalapeño Soup).
Evandro Caregnato is the culinary director of Texas de Brazil. He was born and raised in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil and first tried Churrasco (cooked by his father) at the age of eight. His passion for cooking grew through watching his family and he started working in his grandfather’s restaurant, Churrascaria Caregnato, as a teenager. Evandro moved to Texas in 1998 for the opening of Texas de Brazil and the restaurant is now preparing their fortieth location for opening along with plans to expand to other parts of the world.
Chapters are divided into the following: From Brazil to Texas de Brazil; Gaucho Culture and Cuisine; The Churrascaria Experience; Churrasco Basics: Meat, Preparation, and Grilling Techniques; Traditional Gaucho Cuisine; Texas de Brazil Favorites; and Brazilian Glossary and Pronunciation Guide.
Before getting to the recipes, over a third of the book covers Evandro’s background from boyhood to business and the Churrasco (barbecue in Portuguese) culture that led to the rodizo-style Churrascarias popular around the world today. You will learn about the gaucho traditions surrounding cooking, clothing, and everyday living. I particularly loved the overview of how the cuisine was developed from the introduction of beef by the Jesuits to the influences from immigrants and other parts of Brazil. I also appreciated the pronunciation guide included at the end of the book. I admit that I have no idea if I am pronouncing a few of the recipes shared on this blog correctly.
For those who haven’t visited a Churrascaria before, you will learn how to get the best of your experience and even how to create the atmosphere in your own home without becoming overwhelmed- from music recommendations to the caipirinhas and food.
The title of every recipe is listed in English and Portuguese. Measurements are provided in US Customary and Metric. Headnotes are also included at the beginning of each recipe with background information, variations, and tips.
The photography is provided by Denny Culbert with over 100 beautifully-styled photos. They did an amazing job of drawing me in and made it very difficult for me to not try everything. Every recipe is accompanied by a full page photo of the finished dish. There are also gorgeous photos from Brazil and Texas de Brazil, plus step-by-step photos on how to prepare picanha.
This book is a great pick to add to your grilling repertoire. You will learn about the tools and ingredients required to become a master of the Churrasco, along with guides for making your own Churrasqueira (Brazilian-style grill/rotisserie) and Four-Armed Cross Spit. While the grill is definitely the star of this book, there are plenty of other recipes to accompany your backyard barbecue or even to save for a rainy day. It may not be the best choice for vegetarians and vegans (though there are a few side dishes that don’t include meat). Most of the ingredients can be found in the average American grocery store. Some that may require sourcing at a South American market or butcher include Picanha (the ideal cut of beef for Churrasco), cassava flour, codfish, cachaça, prosciutto cotto, quail, and crème de cassis liqueur (an optional ingredient). Recipes range in preparation from simple to day-long affairs.
Arroz Carreteiro, Wagoners’ Rice, comes from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. This rice dish was traditionally made in iron pots while traveling to use up ingredients available in a short amount of time. Long grain rice is combined with leftover beef (barbecue, dried, or ground), garlic, and onion, then covered and left alone until all the water is absorbed (no peaking or stirring!). I used cubes of leftover steak, but would love to experiment with a variety of cuts.
This dish definitely serves a crowd. It can easily be halved for a smaller family- particularly for a weeknight dinner. It was a huge hit for all of us and I definitely see myself adding it to the summer rotation.
I also made Doce de Leite (Dulce de Leche/Caramelized Milk), Lombinho de Porco com Queijo (Parmesan-Crusted Pork Loin), Cogumelos ao Molho de Vinho (Sautéed Mushrooms with Wine Sauce), and Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread).
Doce de Leite is Dulce de Leche from Brazil. This was actually my first time making it and I was a little nervous about having it get too dark so mine wasn’t as thick as it should be. This takes a while to make and requires a bit of hands-on time, but it was oh so good. Milk, salt, sugar, and baking soda are simmered slowly on the stove for over 2 hours, while stirring every 10-15 min until a deep caramel color and thickened. I served it with crepes from the Canelone de Espinafre (Spinach Cannelloni) recipe. Since mine was too thin to use as a filling, I used the extra as an ice cream topping. So don’t be afraid to let it get darker than mine did.
Lombinho de Porco com Queijo (Parmesan-Crusted Pork Loin) takes grilled pork to the next level. Pieces of pork loin are marinated in the Texas de Brazil marinade, then arranged on skewers and grilled until cooked, but still moist. It is finished off with a coated of grated Parmesan cheese. It is definitely a great addition to your grilling line-up.
I served the Cogumelos ao Molho de Vinho (Sautéed Mushrooms with Wine Sauce) as a side to the Parmesan-Crusted Pork Loin. Small mushrooms are simmered in a rich beefy wine sauce. It would also be delicious with grilled steak. Evandro recommends making this dish with a variety of wild mushrooms. It can be made up to 3 days in advance.
I made the Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread) to snack on during the opening ceremony for the Rio Olympic Games. This bread couldn’t be easier to make and it is gluten-free! A tapioca parmesan-based batter is prepared with a quick whirl in the blender and baked in mini-muffin cups until puffed and golden. It was a huge hit with the whole family, particularly Claire whose hand graced the photos because she couldn’t wait to get one (two, three…).
Disclaimer: I received this book from Gibbs Smith in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. Recipe reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith.
Wagoners’ Rice (Arroz Carreteiro)
This dish dates back to the 1800s. A carreteiro was a person who transported goods, supplies, and other items in an oxcart across southern Brazil. Since refrigeration had yet to be developed, these old-time gauchos would always carry plenty of salted, charque (dried beef), which they often used to prepare a simple yet satisfying rice dish during their long journeys. Nowadays, gauchos are notorious for overestimating the quantity of beef needed for a weekend churrasco, and we always cook much more meat than we can possibly eat. As a result, this dish remains popular, since it makes good use of all the leftovers. There are many versions of this recipe, but this is my own.
SERVES 6 TO 8
4 cups (760 g) uncooked jasmine rice or parboiled rice
2 thick slices bacon, chopped or cubed
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
4 cups (approximately 1⁄2 kilo) chopped or cubed leftover grilled beef, preferably with some char marks and fat (dried beef can also be used)
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 medium onion, chopped
1⁄2 cup chopped green onions, green and white parts
Dash of crushed red pepper
1–2 cubes beef bouillon
6 cups hot water, plus more as needed
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish
Grated Parmesan, for garnish
If using jasmine rice, prior to cooking, rinse the dry rice with water in a mixing bowl, straining the water until it runs clear to remove any excessive starch. Drain well and reserve.
Render the bacon in the oil in a 4- to 6-quart cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until golden brown. Add the beef, garlic, and onion, and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the rice and sauté for 2 minutes, then add green onions, red pepper, beef bouillon, and water; add salt if needed. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed the water. If the water has been completely absorbed but the rice is still undercooked, add a bit more water and allow it to cook a little longer.
When the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and gently stir it with a spoon so that all the ingredients are well mixed. Cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 2 to 3 minutes. Just before serving, garnish the rice with the parsley and Parmesan.
If you remove the lid and allow the rice to cook for 5 to 7 minutes at a low temperature, the bottom of the rice will form a nice crust that is extremely flavorful. To create the crust without burning the dish, it is imperative to use a heavy cast-iron pot.