With Germany out of the World Cup, it seems the path has been cleared for Brazil, now the tournament favourites, to lift the trophy.
We love Brazil, but not only because of Neymar and Co, we must admit. It’s not its beaches, although they’re undoubtedly beautiful. It’s not the great cities like Rio and Sao Paulo. It’s not even because of the bright, sunny yellow football strip we are expecting to see so much more of as the World Cup progresses….we love Brazil because of, you guessed it, the food!
So, do you know your acarajé from your açaí? There’s so many great Brazilian treats to try….
Barbecued meat is a mainstay (and Brazil and Argentina may not just be rivals on the football pitch either – they fight about who does the best meat too). Premium cuts meat such as the popular picanha are given a good going-over with some coarse salt and voila (or whatever the Brazilian may be for that!) they’re ready for a hot grill.
There’s also Pão de queijo which brings together two of our favourite things – cheese and bread – which can be enjoyed at any time of the day or night. It’s crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and, even better, are gluten free as they’re made from tapioca flour, eggs and a regional cow’s milk cheese. They are delicious.
Most people will have heard of Acai – it became something of a hit in the last century as a health food and the purple berry is known as a superfood. It can be used in a sauce for fish, as sorbet, in juices and even in beer and vodka.
For something distinctly less healthy there’s acarajé (pronounced a-ka-ra-zjeh) which is a street snack – a deep-fried crushed black-eyed peas, palm oil and pureed onions concoction, deep fried in palm oil and then sliced open and stuffed with dried shrimp and vatapá – a rich and spicy puree of prawns, bread, cashew nuts and other ingredients.
Another deep-fried classic, this one from São Paulo, coxinha are croquettes usually made with a filling of shredded chicken and Catupiry (a soft, creamy cheese). The filling is surrounded by a layer of dough, then coated in golden breadcrumbs before frying.
But what about those with a sweet tooth? There’s the simple truffle or Brigadieros da Escocia (chocolate truffles) as they are known. Kids particularly love these and are named after the famous 1940s political figure Brigadier Eduardo Gomes. They’re made condensed milk and cocoa powder and are really popular at parties, carnivals and festivals.
And what will they toast with if Brazil’s men in yellow lift the World Cup at the end of the tournament? we think it will be the country’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha. Made with cachaça sugar and lime, it’s delicious.
Here’s a recipe for Coxinha:
4 chicken breasts
4 to 5 cups of chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 small tub of cream cheese, softened
2 cups of flour
2 to 3 cups of finely grated bread crumbs
3 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the chicken breasts in pot and cover with the chicken stock.
- Add the carrot and one of the onions (peeled and halved) as well as the bay leaves.
- Bring liquid to a gentle simmer, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through. Strain and keep the stock.
- Shred the chicken into very small pieces.
- Stir the softened cream cheese and lime juice into the shredded chicken.
- Finely chop the second onion and the garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter until golden and soft.
- Add the hot onions and garlic to the chicken mixture and stir until everything is well mixed. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan, and gradually stir in the same amount of flour as you have broth.
- Stir vigorously and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture will become a stiff dough. Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- To shape the coxinhas, take a piece of the dough about the size of a golf ball with floured hands. Roll it into a ball, then hollow out the middle for the filling.
- Press a golfball size (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) piece of the chicken filling inside the ball of dough, and press the dough closed around the filling. Shape into an approximate drumstick shape, flouring hands as necessary. Stand the coxinhas on a baking sheet, so that the pointed end sticks upwards. Continue until you run out of dough or filling.
- Whisk the eggs together in a bowl. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow pan and season with salt and pepper.
- Dip the coxinhas in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs to coat. Chill the breaded coxinhas for 1 hour.
- Deep fry the coxinhas until they are golden.