Tag Archives: Rio Grande do Sul

“Churrasco”, the Brazilian BBQ

3 Sep

The most southern Brazilian state is Rio Grande do Sul, the larger part of which, as well as parts of Uruguay and Argentina, is covered by the pampas.  From these flat lands, with a vegetation which favours cattle raising, comes some of the best meat in the world.

Using this wonderful meat, the “gauchos”, designation of the South American cowboys as well as residents of the Rio Grande do Sul state, developed a particular way to prepare BBQ, here called “churrasco”:  plenty of meat, coarse sea salt as condiment and wood or charcoal fire.  If you season the meat with anything different from salt, or if you don’t use wood or charcoal, you can’t call that a “churrasco”. And this is not a matter of opinion, it’s the law.  And when I say the law, I mean it.  This whole thing is so important in Rio Grande do Sul that it has found its place in the state legislation (State Law RS no. 11,929/2003).

The Brazilian “churrasco” is equivalent to the “parrillada” in Uruguay and Argentina, also prepared by “gauchos”.

One of the most common beef cuts employed are ribs, which are slowly grilled, at times for more than 6 hours, resulting in a very, very tender meat that almost detaches itself from the bone.  Nevertheless, due to high fat content, the meat remains juicy and tasty. You can see here a young fellow preparing “picanha” (rump steak, I believe), another common cut (notice the fat and the amount of salt used).

Well, ribs are what I had for dinner last night over Renan’s house, a very nice friend who remembered me when he decided to prepare some “churrasco”.

The "churrasco" pit ("churrasqueira") with some pork sausages and the beef ribs

The "churrasco" pit ("churrasqueira") with some pork sausages and the beef ribs (note that the ribs are grilled with the bone side down, being turned only 10-15 min before serving)

The perfect rib after a couple of hours over the fire: very tender and juicy

The perfect rib after a couple of hours over the fire: very tender and juicy

Hope Renan keeps remembering me for quite a long time.

Beef Rib on Foodista

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Mocotó – Ready for the Brazilian hangover medicine?

25 Jun

Friday, Central Public Market in Porto Alegre (GPS 30.027512 Lat. S; 51.227875 Long. W), capital of our state (Rio Grande do Sul), 350 km north of where I live. This Market was opened to the public 140 years ago, and is one of the most traditional places in that city for buying regional products. It also has a couple of delicatessen, where you can find from dried Norwegian codfish to Arabian dates and French “fois gras”. For me, who live in a small town, such market is always a wonderful source of food and ingredients. I enjoy the vision, the atmosphere, the noise and the smell of such formidable place. My money is never enough to buy everything I want, but luckily always enough to fill the car trunk.

Central Public Market of Porto Alegre - Southern Brazil

Central Public Market of Porto Alegre - Southern Brazil

Inside the Central Public Market in Porto Alegre - Southern Brazil

Inside the Central Public Market in Porto Alegre - Southern Brazil

Since it’s winter on this side of the globe I went there to have “mocotó” with my wife and a couple of friends.

“Mocotó”, which literally means “cow’s feet”, is a traditional Brazilian white beans soup. The basic ingredients are cow’s feet, of course, cow’s stomach (tripe – “dobradinha”) and white beans. In southern Brazil we also add sausages and olives.

Mocotó - Cow's feet

Mocotó - Cow's feet

Folded cow's stomach

Dobradinha - Cow's stomach (tripe)

Sausages - with and without hot chili

Sausages - with and without hot chili

Preparation is rather time consuming, and involves a lot of washing and cleaning the feet and stomach with acidified water (using lime juice or vinager) and then cooking for about 1 hr in a preassure cooker. The feet are then refrigerated overnight and the protein (collagen) then carefully scraped out and used to prepare the soup. The stomach and sausage are sliced into bite sized pieces. Meats are then fried in olive oil with onions and garlic. Water and white beans are added and left to cook until beans are soft. When ready the soup is served very hot (after all it’s a winter’s dish) garnished with green olives and chopped parsley and boiled egg. A few drops of a very hot chili sauce are added just before eating to improve its power of heating the body during these cold winter days.

A "mocotó" dish - The best medicine for hangover

A "mocotó" dish - The best medicine for hangover

There are several small restaurants in the Market which serve this dish, but we chose “Naval”, a rather typical place, since they have been around for over 100 years.

The food was wonderful and at a very nice price, as we spent around US$ 12,00/person, including a couple of beers.

In Brazil it’s believed that mocotó is one of the best medicines for hangover, but I bet you won’t regret trying it even if you’re sober.

Tripe on Foodista

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