Chances are, you'll be heading to a barbecue on Memorial Day, and unless the hosts are serious foodies, you will probably be served the same old Bubba Burgers and Hebrew National Hot Dogs that are standard at most American get-togethers. This year, take back the holiday and host your own barbecue Brazilian style.
I spoke with my friend, amazing cook, and good ole' Brazilian farm-boy Joaquim Netto about his take on how to throw the perfect celebration. According to Netto, "whatever party you do, you always do it with churrasco. It's Brazilian for barbecue." This includes a wide range of ingredients from sausage to fish to whole chunks of meat. Mostly, however, the meat takes center stage. He ran me through the range of traditional fare: turkey,
lamb, chicken hearts, pork tenderloin topped with Parmesan, and filet and chicken wrapped in bacon. Each dish is simply prepared with sea salt. These tend to act as the highlight of the meal, which starts early and lasts all day.
The traditional cooking method is called churrasco de campana. According to Netto, "It originated in the south of Brazil in an area called Rio Grande do Sul." Basically, the formula is a hole in the ground with wood charcoal and skewers of meat roasting atop. "And don't even think about briquettes" Netto says. That would be a travesty in the eyes of a Brazilian.
The process of cooking huge hunks of meat by rotisserie can be rather time consuming. What do Brazilians do to pass the time? Drink and eat, of course. Earlier in the day, cheese breads and sausages with lime, pimenta malagueta (a brazilian chile), and farofa (a mixture of toasted yuca flour with parsley and bacon) are passed around. A solid base for the ice-cold beer that is to be consumed. Apparently, the ice cold part is not an understatement. Netto says, "The beer is so cold it freezes your brain. If not, it's not cold enough". Caipirinhas, the Brazilian national drink, of cachaca, lime, and sugar are also common at any barbecue.
When the meats are finally done, they are sliced and passed around to all of the party-goers. A buffet of yuca, bread, rice, potato salad, and vinaigrette sauce known as sauce molho de vinagrete (a mixture of chopped tomato, onion, parsley, and vinegar) are served as sides.
If you're looking for supplies, A J Seabra, a Brazilian specialty market at 839 West Sample Road in Pompano should have any items you need. Be sure to also pick up a few bags of ice for that brain-freeze beer.