If you’re like most Americans, you’ve caught Olympic fever. Whether you’re on the edge of your seat during the gymnastics competitions, can’t get enough of swimming, or plan to tune in to watch golf (which makes its return to the games after a 112-plus year absence), you’re going to need some food to sustain you as you cheer on your favorite athletes. You could always chow down on typical game-day favorites, but why not honor the host country by putting together a menu of Brazilian cuisine? Rather than chips and dip, serve these five Brazilian recipes at your big Olympics party.
The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail. It’s made with cachaca — a spirit distilled from sugarcane juice that’s somewhat similar to white rum. When the spirit is mixed with some lime and sugar, the result is a simple and refreshing summer sip. This recipe is from Esquire’s cocktail expert David Wondrich.
- ½ lime(s)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 ounces cachaca
Directions: Slice the lime into ½-inch rounds, cube them, and muddle them in an old fashioned glass or small tumbler with the sugar. Add a couple of ice cubes. Pour in the cachaca. Serve with a stirring rod.
If Brazil has a national dish, it might as well be feijoada, a hearty stew made with black beans and various meats, such as pork and beef. The slow-cooked dish takes some time to make, but it’s the perfect comfort food to serve to you crowd as you watch the games. For a traditional meal, serve it with farofa, a side dish of fried manioc flour. Chourico is a Portugeuse sausage flavored with garlic and paprika; if you can’t find it, substitute chorizo. This recipe is from Emeril Lagasse via Smithsonian.com
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound chorico sausage, sliced ¼-inch thick
- 1 pound carne seca or other salted cured beef, soaked overnight and cubed
- 1 pound baby back spareribs, cut into individual ribs
- 1 pound black beans
- 10 cups water
- 4 cups collard or kale greens, sautéed in olive oil
- 4 cups cooked white rice
- Brazilian hot sauce
For the farofa
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2½ cups manioc flour
Directions: In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic. Crush the bay leaves and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the sausage. Continue to cook for 4 minutes. Add the cubed beef, ribs, beans and water. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the beans are tender, about 2½ hours, adding water as necessary to keep the beans covered. Using the back of a ladle, mash ¼ of the beans. Re-season with salt and pepper if needed.
To serve, spoon some of the greens and rice onto each serving plate. Spoon the feijoada over the rice. Shake some of the hot sauce over the entire plate. Garnish with the orange slices and farofa.
To make the farofa, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the flour. Season with salt. Sauté until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
3. Churrasco de Flank Steak
Even if you’re not that familiar with Brazilian cuisine, you’ve probably heard of churrasco, or the local take on barbecue. While churrasco can involve almost any variety of grilled meats, this recipe from the Today show calls for flank steak and is served with a homemade chimichurri sauce.
For the steak
- 1 large piece of flank steak (do not remove the fat)
- Brazilian sal grosso (or substitute with food-safe coarse salt like Morton’s coarse kosher salt or rock salt)
For the chimichurri sauce
- 1 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
- Salt to taste
Directions: Prepare an open-flame grill. Set the temperature to medium-high and make sure the flames will be able to get very close to the meat.
Apply a generous amount of rock salt to the flank steak without rubbing it, the salt must be loose or the meat will be too salty. Take the meat to the grill and cook for about 5 minutes each side for medium rare, turning only once.
Once ready, grab the flank steak with large tongs and hit the meat with the side of a large knife to eliminate the extra salt.
Let the meat rest for a couple of minutes before slicing it.
4. Pão de Queijo
Pão de queijo, or Brazilian cheese puffs, are the perfect appetizer to serve at your Olympics celebration. These bite-size cheesy snacks, which are similar to gougeres, are easy to make and delightfully tasty. They taste best fresh, but if you have any leftovers, you can use them for sandwiches the next day. Look for tapioca flour at a Latin American supermarket. This recipe from The Kitchn makes about two dozen puffs.
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (10 ounces) tapioca flour or sour cassava flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 to 1½ cups Parmesan cheese
Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the milk, oil, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Turn heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil, whisking occasionally. As soon as you see big bubbles start to appear in the milk, remove from heat.
Add all of the tapioca flour to the saucepan and stir until there’s no more dry tapioca flour. The dough will be grainy and gelatinous at this point.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (You can also mix by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer.) Beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed until it smooths out and has cooled enough so that you can touch it for a few seconds without burning yourself.
Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. With the mixer on medium, beat the eggs into the dough in two additions. Wait until the first addition has been fully incorporated into the dough before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
With the mixer on medium, beat in the cheese until fully incorporated. The resulting dough will be very sticky, stretchy, and soft with a consistency between cake batter and cookie dough.
Using an ice cream scoop, a tablespoon measure, or a dinner spoon, scoop rounded portions of the dough into mounds on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Space the mounds 1 or 2 inches apart. Dip your scoop in water to prevent sticking.
Transfer the sheet with the puffs to the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the puffs have puffed, the outsides are dry, and they are just starting to color. Cool briefly and eat. Leftover puffs can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week and re-crisped in a warm oven or toaster oven.
Coxinha, or chicken croquettes, are a popular street food in Brazil. They consist of shredded or chopped chicken mixed with cheese and spices, then coated in dough and shaped like a chicken drumstick. We think they’re the perfect snack to serve at your Olympics celebrations, particularly these extra-small, bite-size versions from Epicurious.
- 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
- 3½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 carrot, peeled and quartered
- 1 celery rib, quartered
For the chicken filling
- 1 large chicken breast
- 8 ounces packaged cream cheese, softened
- 1 ear corn, kernels cut off the cob
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 1 cup plain Italian bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: In a large pot, preheat oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In another large pot, combine broth, onions, carrots, and celery and bring to a simmer. Carefully add chicken, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Poach chicken for 12 to 15 minutes, or until just cooked through. Turn off heat, but leave the pot of hot poaching liquid on the stove. Remove chicken from liquid and let it rest for 10 minutes.
For the filling, finely chop or shred chicken into a large mixing bowl. Add cream cheese, corn, green onions, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Fold to combine.
Strain 1½ cups of the poaching liquid and discard the rest. In a saucepan over high heat, bring reserved liquid and oil to a boil. Add flour and stir vigorously until dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Roll out to ¼-inch thick. Cut out small rounds using a 3-inch circle cutter or the rim of a round cup. Place a small scoop (about 1 tablespoon) of the filling in the center of each round. Pinch dough together at the top to seal, creating small, teardrop-shaped pouches. In a small bowl, lightly whisk eggs and milk together. Place bread crumbs in another small bowl. Carefully dip each pouch into the egg wash and then the bread crumbs until fully coated. Fry coxinha in small batches for 7 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, lightly season with salt, and serve hot.
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