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Savory Pancakes for Brunch (Panquecas de Carne)

savory crepes on a plate

In the US, pancakes are almost always thought of as a sweet breakfast food. Our versions are fluffy and loaded with syrup, fruit, or even chocolate syrup. In other parts of the world, however, savory pancakes are often eaten for any meal of the day. In Brazil, for example, thin pancakes are used in a dish similar to Mexican enchiladas. These panquecas de carne are traditionally filled with seasoned ground beef and topped with a flavorful sauce and melted cheese. 

While these Brazilian enchiladas are delicious, we have a feeling that most Americans will still be wary of having a pancake dish any other time of day besides breakfast or brunch. And ground beef and melted cheese is a little heavy for a morning meal. So we will borrow the savory pancake and change up the filling to something brunch-friendly. 

Our Brazilian panquecas will be filled with a glorious mixture of bacon, caramelized onions, granny smith apples, and melted gruyere cheese. We will top off our crepes with a little creme fraiche and fresh dill. Paired with an ice-cold passion fruit caipirinha and, trust us, you won’t want to have brunch any other way. 

The pancakes for this recipe are actually more similar to crepes, since they are meant to be almost paper-thin. Unlike American pancakes, crepes do not use a raising agent (such as baking powder). This gives them a much thinner, somewhat chewier texture. They are extremely simple to make and each one cooks up quite quickly. Make sure you are continually greasing your skillet to keep them from sticking. 

Savory Pancakes for Brunch (Panquecas de Carne)


For the pancakes

2 cups flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup water
½ tsp salt
2 oz melted butter 

For the filling

16 oz thick cut bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
½ yellow onion, minced
2 granny smith apples, cut in thin slices
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded


  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon until it is browned and crisp, but not crunchy. Strain the bacon on paper towels on a separate dish.
  2. Discard all but one or two tsp of the bacon grease. Return the skillet to the stove but lower the heat to medium. Add in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 
  3. Add in the minced onion, sliced apples, sugar, and pinch of salt. 
  4. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples and onions are soft and caramelized. 
  5. Once the apples and onions have caramelized, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the reserved bacon. Sprinkle in the gruyere cheese and mix until it is melted throughout. Put the mixture aside.
  6. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, eggs, water, salt, and melted butter. Heat a second skillet over medium high heat and grease well with non-stick spray, oil, or melted butter.
  7. Ladle in enough batter to evenly coat the entire bottom of your pan. You can swirl the pan slightly to get an even layer. 
  8. Cook one side for about two minutes, then flip to the other side. Continue until you have used up all of your batter.
  9. Fill each of your crepes with the bacon and apple filling. Try not to over-fill them, since they are fragile. Put a heaping spoonful in the middle, then fold the edges toward the center until you have a triangle shape. 
  10. Serve the panquecas warm and with a dollop of creme fraiche on top. Garnish with fresh dill, parsley, or chives. 


More Delicious Brazilian Recipes to Try:

The Gaucho Knife (Facón)

gaucho in traditional dress with gaucho knife

The history behind the gaucho knife is intertwined in the culture and history of the gauchos themselves. The image of the lone horseman hunting and foraging on the pampas, selling animal hides and ostrich plumes and sleeping under the stars sounds like a character from a novel rather than history. But the day-to-day existence of the gaucho was often fraught with the very real and very unromantic circumstances of hunger, thirst, and safety. 

Gauchos first emerged as a distinct social class in the 17th century, but it was not until the 1800s that the name “gaucho” was used in writing by Spanish colonists. The name was, initially, a derogatory term for the nomadic horsemen, who were perceived as bandits and smugglers. 

The origin of the term is not known, precisely. There are several theories, most of which have been debunked or highly questioned. However, most scholars agree that it likely arose from an indigenous word that contained sounds that could not be pronounced by speakers of Spanish and Portuguese. 

The word garrucho, for example, is a Charruan word for a “low” or “contemptible person.” The Charrua were the indigenous peoples of the borders between Brazil and Uruguay. The double “r” sound in this word would have been difficult for Portuguese-speakers to pronounce. As a result, the spelling was probably changed to include an “h” sound. The resulting “gahucho” reached its final iteration in the form of “gaucho,” when Spanish-speakers omitted the “h” entirely. 

From Bandits to Heroes

The gaucho reputation was strongly bolstered during the Argentine and Uruguayan wars of Independence, during which they were recruited as soldiers for their superb horsemanship and knowledge of the land. 

The gauchos proved themselves to be brave and highly adept cavalry men, especially under the leadership of Argentine caudillo Martin Miguel de Güemes. It was Guemes who helped turn the word “gaucho” from one of derision to one of respect, as he referenced the men in his troops as “my gauchos.” 

Gaucho Culture

Like the American cowboys, gauchos had a distinctive style of dress that was both practical and traditional. Most wore a poncho that could also act as a horse blanket. The poncho was worn over loose pants called bombachas. The horseman could be further cushioned in the saddle with another blanket worn around the loins. This was called a chiripa, and was belted together with a sash known as a faja. The final adornment worn by many gauchos was an ornate leather belt.

As cattle herders, the gaucho diet consisted nearly entirely of beef. They also drank a special infusion of yerba mate, a strong tea that provides nutrients and caffeine. The tea was traditionally drunk through a long silver straw from a hollowed out gourd.

Gauchos were known for being solitary, but were also extremely hospitable to guests, offering food and shelter for as long as someone might need. 

The Gaucho Knife

Unfortunately, gauchos also developed a reputation for violence amongst themselves, no matter how trivial the argument. Tucked into the sash of every gaucho was the facón, a distinctive and deadly blade that was sometimes used to resolve these arguments. 

Approximately fourteen inches in length with an elaborate wooden or horn handle, the facón was most often used as a utility knife. However, it has also been attributed to a good deal of bloodshed. Charles Darwin, who lived in the pampas for half a year in 1833, faulted the knife for the fatalities which often occurred during petty brawls: 

“…there is much bloodshed: the habit of constantly wearing the knife is the chief cause of the latter. It is lamentable to hear how many lives are lost in trifling quarrels.”

Gauchos Today

By the end of the 19th century, the gaucho way of life was on the decline. South Americans increasingly viewed the gauchos as backward, and their nomadic existence gave way to the more permanent occupation of rancher and herder. 

However, the gaucho legacy remains a strong part of Argentinian, Uruguayan, and Brazilian culture. They are featured in numerous poems, novels, and artwork, commemorated for their assistance in the wars of independence. 

You can also get a small taste of what it was like to be a gaucho through the style of cooking known as churrasco. The gauchos were the originators of this style of cooking, which is similar to asado in Spanish. Churrasco uses only a little salt and flame roasts cuts of meat to bring out its perfect texture and flavor. 

Gaucho Knife Gift

The facón continues to be a symbol of the gaucho way of life. Its rustic beauty and honed edge make it an ideal carving tool and a beautiful present for the foodie or historian in your life. 

The gaucho knives offered by Texas de Brazil are a true homage to this unique culture. A ten inch stainless steel blade is paired with a bone or polished wood handle. The knife is encased in a soft leather sheath and presented on red felt in a wooden box. Visit our online shop to view our current availability. 

Brazilian Pumpkin Spice Preserves (Doce de Abobora)

pumpkin preserves on a cheese board with toast

It’s that time of year when many of us start thinking about Autumn. After a long, hot summer, we might find ourselves daydreaming about cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and comfort food. In America, Fall is also the season of all things pumpkin spice. Breads, lattes, soups, candles–whatever you can think of, there is probably a pumpkin version. Which brings me to today’s unusual recipe: pumpkin spice preserves. 

Although Brazilians may not be quite as enthusiastic as Americans are about pumpkins, they do enjoy eating them in a variety of recipes. One dish that is not as common here in the States is a kind of pumpkin preserve called “doce de abobora.” This translates to “pumpkin sweet,” which is an accurate description of this syrupy spread. 

Brazilian pumpkin preserves also incorporate fresh, shredded coconut for more texture and sweetness. Warming spices like cinnamon and cloves are added for that quintessential pumpkin pie flavor. 

Preserves vs Jam

A jam is made using fruit that has been uniformly blended prior to cooking. This results in a smooth, spreadable consistency. Preserves are made with whole or large chunks of fruit, similar to a compote or a chutney. Because we will be using cubed pumpkin and shredded coconut, our recipe falls more under the preserves category. 

If you want, you could try adding a little orange or lemon zest to your preserves for more of a marmalade taste. 

What Do You Eat With Brazilian Pumpkin Preserves?

You will find that your doce de abobora pairs well with lots of things, both sweet and savory. It is, on its own, very sugary, so it does particularly well on a cheese board or on crusty french bread. That being said, don’t be afraid to double down on the sweetness. These preserves taste amazing, for example, on top of vanilla ice cream or french toast. 

Can I Use Butternut Squash Instead of Pumpkin?

Yes. As with most recipes, you can use butternut squash in place of pumpkin. The taste and texture will be nearly identical. Only the color will vary slightly. 

Can I Use Other Spices in My Pumpkin Spice Preserves?

Of course! Our recipe uses cloves and cinnamon, but feel free to add a little nutmeg, ground ginger, star anise, allspice, or even a little cayenne for some heat. 

Can I Use Canned Pumpkin for Pumpkin Preserves?

For preserves, you need large pieces of the pumpkin fruit. Canned pumpkin is typically pureed, so it won’t work well in this recipe. However, you can certainly use frozen pumpkin or butternut squash that has been pre-peeled and cut into chunks. 

Brazilian Pumpkin Spice Preserves (Doce de Abobora)

Yield: about 3 cups


1 pie /sugar pumpkin, cut into ½  inch cubes
3 cinnamon sticks
5-6 whole cloves
1 cup shredded coconut (sweet or unsweet)
1.5 cups sugar


  1. Combine all your ingredients except for the coconut in a large saucepan and heat over medium high. 
  2. When the pumpkin begins releasing some of its liquid and the sugar is melting, reduce the heat to low.
  3. Cover the pumpkin mixture and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add in the coconut and cook for another fifteen minutes, until the pumpkin is very soft. 
  5. Give the mixture a rough mash with the back of a fork and stir to combine evenly. 
  6. Pour your pumpkin spice preserves into sterile jars for storing. If you are not using a sterile canning method, keep your preserves in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

More Great Fall Recipes to Try from Brazil:

Brazilian Style Picadillo (Ensopado de Carne Moida)

a plate of rice and Brazilian picadillo with olives

Traditionally, picadillo is a ground beef stew popular in Latin America, especially Cuba and Mexico. It is also eaten in the Philippines and parts of the Caribbean. The exact ingredients vary slightly depending on the region, but most versions incorporate a base of ground beef, tomatoes, or tomato sauce. In Brazil, picadillo is referred to as “ensopado de carne moida,” which literally translates to “minced meat stew.”  

Brazilian picadillo is a weeknight staple item, since it lends itself to all sorts of recipes. It can be eaten on its own, or served over white rice or egg noodles; it can act as a filling for tacos, burritos, croquettes, and empanadas. On a bun, it also makes for a significantly upgraded Sloppy Joe. Whatever you use it for, you will be glad you added this versatile dish to your arsenal.

In addition to the base of ground beef and tomatoes, Brazilian picadillo incorporates tangy black olives and bell peppers for crunch and sweetness. You can add any other vegetables you like. Shredded carrots, for example, lend a great texture and freshness. If you want to make it more like a traditional cowboy stew, you can add corn, peas, or cubed potatoes. You will just want to parboil the potatoes so they cook a little faster. 

Do I Have to Use Ground Beef for Brazilian Picadillo?

While the traditional recipe does call for minced ground beef, you can substitute it with any protein of your choice. In fact, some historians believe the original picadillo was made with minced turkey and pheasant, not beef. 

Is There a Vegan Brazilian Picadillo?

There is a vegan version of nearly everything, and picadillo is no exception! Simply replace the ground beef with meaty vegetables and a legume of your choice. This recipe, for example, incorporates shiitake mushrooms and brown lentils

Is Picadillo Spicy?

While it is heavily spiced, there is very little heat to Brazilian picadillo. The bell peppers are very mild, as are the tomatoes. However, if you wanted to spice things up a bit, you could add a little cayenne or half a diced jalapeno to the mix. 

Brazilian Style Picadillo (Ensopado de Carne Moida)


1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
6 oz black olives, cut in half
1 red pepper, diced
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
1.5 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp oregano
6 oz beef stock
1 tsp salt
Splash of red wine or red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and put in your diced onion and bell pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or so, until softened. Add in the minced garlic and cook it until you can start to smell it. 
  2. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook until evenly browned. 
  3. Season the browned beef with the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Stir to coat evenly. 
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, olives, tomato paste, and a splash of red wine vinegar or nice red wine.
  5. Add the stock. Stir to mix all the ingredients together. 
  6. Cover the skillet and simmer for twenty minutes, until the liquid is reduced and you have a nice, thick sauce. 

Serve with rice or try dunking a fluffy Brazilian cheese bread puff into this delicious, savory mixture. 

Other Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:

Brazilian Breadsticks (Biscoito de Polvilho)

round biscoito de polvilho on a white plate with coffee

Tapioca starch is a very popular ingredient in Brazil, where it is often substituted in recipes that would otherwise call for wheat flour. The result is that many of Brazil’s “breads” are naturally gluten free, while still offering a similar chewy texture and satisfying taste. The famous Brazilian cheese bread, for example, is made using cassava/tapioca flour and just a few other simple ingredients. 

Another favorite snack food in Brazil that utilizes tapioca starch is the biscoito de polvilho, which translates to “tapioca flour cookie.” Although they lack the sweetness of an American cookie, they are crisp and somewhat wafer-like when fried. They are also traditionally round in shape and very popular paired with coffee, similar to the way you might dunk a cookie or a donut in the US. 

Biscoito de Polvilho Origins

The exact origin of the biscoito de polvilho is not known. However, most historians agree that it probably originated during the colonial period in and around the mining state of Minas Gerais. The breadsticks were likely served with cheese and coffee as a snack in the afternoons.

Today, most regions have a version of the biscoito de polvilho. The size, shape, and flavors vary greatly depending on local preferences. Some are stick or peanut shaped, for example. Others are seasoned with various herbs and fillings (like our recipe, which calls for asiago cheese and fresh rosemary). 

Can You Buy Pre-Made Tapioca Breadsticks?

Yes, packaged biscoito de polvilho are available online and locally in many Brazilian supermarkets. But they are so simple to make, it is probably more convenient to just bake up your own batch. They will not only be fresher, but you can also customize them to suit your own tastes and dietary needs. 

Are Brazilian Breadsticks Dairy Free?

Traditional biscoitos de polvilho require both eggs and whole milk. However, you can make a vegan version using nut or soy milk and vegan egg powder substitutes, like this one. The texture will be slightly different, of course, but the result should still be delicious. 

Brazilian Bread Sticks Recipe (Biscoito de Polvilho)

Yield: approximately 10 breadsticks


16 oz tapioca starch
1.5 oz grated asiago cheese
2 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 large egg
2 oz milk (preferably whole, but you can use skim or 2%)
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp chopped, fresh rosemary


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the tapioca starch and grated asiago in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the milk, olive oil, rosemary, and salt. Bring to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over your combined tapioca starch and cheese. Mix all the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. 
  5. Once the dough looks uniform, stir in the egg (you may find that combining the dough is easier just using your hands). 
  6. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  7. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the dough out with your hands (you can oil your hands lightly if the dough is too sticky). Roll the dough into a ball. Then, on a flat surface, roll the ball into a stick about 4 inches long. Join the two ends of the stick to form a round circle. Place on the lined baking sheet.
  8. Repeat this process until you have used all your dough. The rounds should have at least 1 inch of space in between to cook properly.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven until the breadsticks are golden brown (abou fifteen minutes).

Serve your biscoito de polvilho warm with fresh coffee or a glass of Brazilian lemonade.

More Delicious Brazilian Recipes to Try:

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