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Black Eyed Peas and Rice (Baiao de Dois)

Black eyed peas and rice in black serving dishjump to recipe button

With the cooler months approaching in the US, we are getting more excited for comfort food. Today’s recipe is a perfect weeknight meal to fight the chill and feed the soul (and belly). Black eyed peas with rice is simple and so filling it is easily a standalone dish, though you can certainly use it as a side as well. Even better: it’s a one pot meal, so cleanup is a breeze. 

Baiao de Dois Meaning

Baiao de Dois does not actually translate to “black eyed peas and rice.” The baiao is actually a style of music thought to have originated among the Amerindian tribes of Northeastern Brazil. It is characterized by a signature duple meter rhythm, accomplished with the steady beat of a zambia (bass drum). Over time, the addition of instruments reflects the influence of other cultures arriving in Brazil: atabaque drums from Africa, and an accordion from Europe, for example. 

The baiao is also a reference to a dance style that accompanies the music. It was popularized in the 1940s by Luiz Gonzaga, whose efforts to bring the style to the masses included a hit called “Baiao de Dois” (dance for two). 

Over time, the special dish of black eyed peas and rice became affectionately known as “Dance for Two,” or baião de dois. A hearty, flavorful blend of slow-simmered black eyed peas with fluffy rice is, indeed, a perfect combination that dances on the tongue. 

Fresh vs Canned Black Eyed Peas

Baiao de dois traditionally uses fresh black eyed peas. They can be found in Brazilian markets alongside other fresh legumes, like green peas and edamame. They are not so easily found in the US, however. If you can’t find fresh black eyed peas, we recommend you use frozen, not canned. Canned black eyed peas can have a metallic taste and mushy texture. We want the al dente bite and earthy flavor of the fresh legume for our black eye peas and rice. 

Other Ingredients in Black Eyed Peas and Rice

The dance for two that is our black eyed peas and rice does involve a few other players, including meat and aromatics. Original recipes often used carne seca, but modern recipes often substitute bacon. Another great thing about this dish is that it is customizable: you can add what you have on hand, or omit something you don’t like. In Brazil, the dish is often served on special occasions, and every family has their own spin. 

One of our preferred substitutions is collards or kale in place of the traditional cilantro. Just be sure to add the greens a little sooner than you would the cilantro to let the leaves tenderize enough. 

What Kind of Rice for Baiao de Dois?

You can use any kind of rice you like for this recipe. Brazilians typically favor long-grain rice, since it has less starch and therefore a less glutinous, or sticky, texture. But again, you can use what you have. If you want less starch on a short grain variety, just rinse it a few times with cold water. 

Brazilian Black Eyed Peas and Rice Recipe (Baiao de Dois)


1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Six strips of bacon
½  cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lb (16 oz) fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
10 oz rice
2 cups water
1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 tsp salt (more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook the bacon in a large saucepan until crisp, then remove to a plate with paper towels to drain excess grease. Crumble or roughly chop into bite-sized pieces with a sharp knife. 
  2. Drain all but a tablespoon of bacon grease from the pan and return it to the heat of medium. Add in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, then toss in your diced onions. 
  3. When the onions have softened (1-2 minutes), add in the minced garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds. 
  4. Add in the black eyed peas, crumbled bacon, salt, black pepper, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. After thirty minutes, check to see if the peas are tender. If they are ready, stir in the 1 cup of stock and the rice. Bring the mixture to a boil once more, then reduce to medium low. Cover, and cook for another twenty minutes, or until the rice is tender. If you need, you can add more liquid (stock or water) to the rice during the cooking process. 
  6. Taste for salt and add more if needed. 
  7. Finally, stir in the mozzarella cheese and fresh cilantro. Top your black eyed peas and rice with a little more cheese and herbs, if you like. 


More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:



montaditos with cured ham

Spanish Sandwich Morsels in Brazil

It is estimated that there are between 10 and 15 million Brazilians of Spanish descent. During peak immigration, Spain represented the third largest population of immigrants to the country. It is no surprise, then, that Spanish culture and cuisine have become an integral part of the nation’s identity. Tapas, for example, is very popular in Brazil. This Spanish tradition of sharing small plates lends itself naturally to the Brazilian love of food, friends, and nightlife. A favorite small plate is the montadito, an open-faced sandwich meant to be consumed in a bite or two. The dish can be customized with all sorts of toppings depending on local preferences. 

What Are Montaditos?

Montaditos are, essentially, bite-sized, open-faced sandwiches. Various toppings are traditionally served on slices of french baguette, either toasted or fresh (other types of bread may be used, however). 

The term “montadito” itself derives from the Spanish word “montar,” which means “to mount” or “to place on top.” It is a reference to the meats and cheeses piled atop the bread slices. Interestingly, the word “montar” in Portuguese means “to assemble,” also a relevant description. 

Montaditos were likely the first type of sandwich ever eaten in Spain. There is evidence of such sandwiches as early as the 15th century, when it was not uncommon for peasants to use a slice of bread as a plate. Hardened bread was fashioned into a “trencher,” or hollowed out dish to accommodate any available food. 

Such dishes allowed for even the stale bread to have use, since certain toppings might soak into it and make it edible. This practice may date even farther back than the middle ages to Ancient Rome, when fresh pressed olive oil could be sampled with a slice of bread.

Montadito Topping Ideas

The beauty of montaditos lies in their versatility. From savory to sweet, there’s a wide array of toppings to suit every palate. Brazilian favorites include:

  1. Jamón Ibérico: Thin slices of the renowned Spanish cured ham, jamón ibérico, adorn many montaditos. The silky texture and rich flavor of the ham provide a delightful contrast to the crunch of the bread.
  2. Manchego Cheese: Aged and nutty, manchego cheese adds a delightful richness to montaditos. It can be paired with quince paste or drizzled with honey for a perfect sweet-savory balance.
  3. Chorizo: Slices of spicy chorizo sausage bring a burst of flavor to montaditos. The smoky and tangy notes of chorizo are often offset with fresh tomatoes or a sweet tomato spread.
  4. Roast Beef: a Brazilian meal is rarely complete without a little red meat, and that includes montaditos. 
  5. Roasted Peppers: Sweet and smoky roasted red peppers add a burst of color and a touch of sweetness to the montadito.
  6. Anchovies: These small fish are a favorite topping, offering a briny and umami-packed punch that tantalizes the taste buds.
  7. Paté: Various types of paté, such as duck liver or seafood paté, add a creamy and luxurious element to montaditos.
  8. Brie: a French twist often combines the creamy Brie cheese with vegetarian montadito options, like juicy tomatoes or fried eggplant. 

Montaditos vs Crostini

Crostini are an Italian dish that is very similar to montaditos. However, where montaditos always constitute some kind of topping, crostini may be served simply toasted and with a brush of olive oil. They are also considered an “antipasti,” or appetizer, as opposed to a small course. 

Bruschetta are another Italian bread dish that incorporates toppings over grilled toast. These are most often associated with fresh vegetable and herb toppings, such as the ubiquitous tomato and basil combo. But, like montaditos, they can be endlessly customized. 

Simple Montadito Recipe


1 loaf of French baguette
4 ounces parmesan or pecorino cheese
4 ounces capicola
1 jar fig preserves
Small handful of Arugula
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. 
  2. Slice your baguette into thin slices, 1-2 inches wide.
  3. Put the slices on a lined baking sheet and drizzle each with a little olive oil and a dash of salt. 
  4. Toast the bread until it is golden brown, around 10 minutes. 
  5. When the toast is cool enough to handle, spread each slice with a generous amount of fig preserves. 
  6. Layer each montadito with a slice or two of capicola, a thin slice of parmesan, followed by a garnish of arugula. 

Enjoy with a glass of Spanish rioja or a refreshing caipirinha. 

More delicious Brazilian Recipes to try:

Churrasco Steak from Brazil

medium rare churrasco steak sliced thin and garnished with rosemary

In some parts of the world, such as Argentina and Uruguay, the word “churrasco” refers to virtually any boneless cut of beef that has been sliced thin and grilled. Churrasco steak, then, would be somewhat redundant. In Brazil, however, churrasco is simply a word for “barbecue,” and it may refer to any number of ingredients cooked on skewers over the grill. Today, we will be cooking a skirt steak the churrasco way, finished with a pat of savory garlic and herb butter or the traditional chimichurri drizzle. 

What is Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak is a long, thin cut of meat derived from the plate of the cow. This is a section in the middle of the flank and the brisket, near the cow’s underside. Skirt steak is flavorful, but can easily become tough if not cooked right. It does best with high-temp, fast cooking and ample time to rest. Luckily, this is exactly what we will be doing with our churrasco steak. 

If you are buying your churrasco steak from a butcher, ask for the “inner” skirt cut. The outer skirt steak is fine, but it is slightly larger and has a tough membrane that will need to be removed. May as well save yourself that step with the inner cut.

diagram of cow with cuts of beef, highlighting plate where skirt steak is found

Skirt Steak Substitutes

If you do not have or do not want to use the skirt cut of beef, there are a few alternatives that you can use for your churrasco steak. Flank steak would be great, as would flatiron steak. Flatiron steak is more tender than either skirt or flank steak, thanks to a good marbling of fat. It does lack the depth of flavor found in flank and skirt steaks, however. 

The best alternative to skirt steak is a flap steak. It is thin and chewy, similar to the plate cut, and cooks beautifully over high heat. Purchase a premium sirloin flap  from our online store and get it delivered right to your door in time for your next cookout. 

Churrasco Steak Marinade

Whatever cut of beef you choose, we recommend marinating it beforehand for 30 minutes to one hour. A marinade helps tenderize the meat while adding a punch of flavor at the same time. It has also been shown to significantly reduce the formation of substances known as Heterocyclic Amines, or HCAs. These are potentially cancer-causing compounds that form when meat is cooked over high heat. A 30 minute marinade is all that is needed to remove up to 99% of HCAs! 

Marinades are generally either acidic or enzymatic. Acidic recipes incorporate oil, vinegar, citrus, and sugars; enzymatic recipes call for yogurt and fruits like papaya and pineapple. Our marinade today is of the acidic variety. 

Skewers for Churrasco Style Skirt Steak

You do not have to use skewers to cook your churrasco steak. However, they do come in handy if you are cooking a large amount of meat at once or you want the convenience and fun of a hand-held option. You will need to prepare the steaks slightly differently, however.

To cook churrasco steak using metal or bamboo skewers:

  1. Slice the steak along the grain in 2 or 3 segments. Then, rotate the steaks and cut each segment into thin strips (around 3 inches across) against the grain. Marinate the strips for 30 minutes using the recipe below. 
  2. When you’re ready to grill, thread the strips onto your skewers (Depending on the type of skewer, you may be able to thread more than one strip at a time.) 
  3. Preheat your grill to high heat while you thread. Cook your churrasco steak skewers for 2 minutes per side, or until the internal temp has reached 130 degrees (medium rare). Rest for five minutes, then enjoy! 

Churrasco Steak Recipe


For the marinade:
2 oz extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp honey or brown sugar
½ tbsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Churrasco Steak:
2 lbs inner cut skirt steak


  1. Put your churrasco steak in a shallow dish or gallon freezer bag. Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour over the steak, being sure to cover fully. Marinate for 30 minutes or up to an hour (do not refrigerate).
  2. Heat your grill to high (500 degrees, if possible). Clean the grates thoroughly and grease them using tongs and a paper towel soaked in a little vegetable oil. 
  3. Remove the steak from the marinade. Sear on each side for 3 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees (medium rare). 
  4. Let the churrasco steak rest for 5 minutes, then slice it against the grain. 
  5. Finish your steak with a pat of garlic herb butter or chimichurri sauce.  

Serve with a side of Brazilian rice or steakhouse crispy brussels sprouts.

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Macarronada (Brazilian Spaghetti Bolognese)

macarronada pasta with meat sauce

Around 30 million Brazilians have Italian ancestry, so it is not surprising that pasta dishes are very popular. It is even available as a fast food option: the beloved restaurant chain, Sprato, has over 200 locations in Brazil! You line up and select your type of pasta, sauce, and toppings much like you’d build a sandwich at Subway. But pasta is easy enough to make at home, and today’s recipe for macarronada is no exception. Traditional macarronada is a Brazilian version of spaghetti bolognese: ground beef, garlic, tomatoes, wine, and herbs are simmered for hours until they develop a supremely savory and complex flavor. Get ready for your new Sunday dinner favorite. 

Do Brazilians Eat Spaghetti?

Of course! As we mentioned above, Italian cuisine is very popular in Brazil. It was originally brought by immigrants in the late 19th century. Today, Italian dishes like pasta, pizza and lasagna are a staple of Brazilian cuisine. Macarronada was, until recently, the traditional meal to eat on Sundays after mass. It is sometimes still referred to as “macarronada de domingo,” or “Sunday pasta.”

Like other dishes, however, many Brazilians like to put a spin on these traditional recipes. It is not uncommon to find pasta sauces made with sliced green olives, sweet corn, or peas. We’re sticking with a more traditional bolognese (we’re keeping the olives, though).  

Macarronada translates to “pasta,” but it is often used to refer to spaghetti in particular. That being said, you can use any type of pasta you want for this bolognese recipe. We like spaghetti noodles because all the nooks and crannies between them means you’ll get a taste of delicious, meaty sauce in every bite. But pappardelle would also be delicious, or fettuccine. 

Macarronada Recipe


1 pound lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
6 strips of bacon
¾ cup white wine
One 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 oz tomato paste
¼ cup diced green olives
1 cup beef stock
8 oz spaghetti noodles
Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper,  to taste


  1. Bring a large skillet to medium high heat. Add in the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove and strain over paper towels. When cool to the touch, chop into small pieces.
  2. Reserve a tablespoon of the bacon fat and add in your ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until evenly browned. Remove and strain excess grease.
  3. Return the skillet to the stove and bring back up to medium. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add in the tomato paste and let it cook for a minute or two on its own. Then, stir in the chopped onion and cook until softened and translucent (2-3 minutes). 
  4. Add in the garlic and cook for a further 30-60 seconds, just until fragrant.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the wine. 
  6. Add in the beef, bacon crumbles, tomatoes, olives, and beef stock. 
  7. Bring the mixture to a rolling simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover the pot with a well-fitting lid.
  8. Simmer on low for two hours, or until you have a thick, uniform ragu for your macarronada.
  9. During the last fifteen minutes of cooking, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in your spaghetti and cook until it is al-dente. Strain and toss with a little olive oil. 
  10. Taste your macarronada sauce for salt. Add in more if necessary.
  11. Serve a generous ladle of the sauce over a portion of noodles. Garnish with basil or fresh parsley and parmesan cheese. 

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Back to Basics: Perfect Brazilian Rice

Brazilian rice with feijoada, collards, and orange slices

Garlicky Brazilian White Rice Side Dish

Along with black beans (feijao), white rice is the most common side dish in Brazil. It is prepared in a signature way that ensures the grains remain loose, not sticky. It is a simple but satisfying dish that compliments virtually every meal. Don’t let its simplicity fool you, though. There are a few key steps you must take in order to prepare the perfect Brazilian white rice. Not to worry: we’ll share our go-to recipe for flavorful, fluffy arroz Brasileiro so you get it right every time. 

History of Rice in Brazil

There is evidence that rice was cultivated by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon nearly 4000 years ago. Archaeologists believe these prehistoric groups developed a method for manipulating and reproducing wild rice. Unfortunately, this method was lost, likely due to the fact that the indigenous people were decimated by early colonists. 

In an ironic turn of events, Portuguese colonists in the 17th century began to experiment with rice cultivation in Brazil. The climate of the southern region proved especially arable for the crop, which became a protected national staple by the early 19th century. 

What Rice is Used in Brazilian Rice?

Brazilians prefer long-grain rice. This type of rice has less starch, which allows the grains to remain separate as opposed to sticking together. Prior to boiling, Brazilian rice is lightly fried in oil and refogado. Refogado is its own Brazilian staple: a sofrito-style blend of onions, garlic, and olive oil that has been blended into a paste. Many keep a jar handy in the fridge, since it acts as the base flavor for so many dishes. 

You can add other aromatics to your refogado to suit your own tastes. Popular additions in Brazil include tomatoes and bay leaves. Some recipes call for you to simmer the ingredients prior to storing in a jar in the fridge. But this is not necessary for our Brazilian rice, since we will be sauteeing the refogado in oil with the rice. This will cook out the strong flavors of the onion and garlic. 

Do You Have to Use Sofrito for Brazilian Rice?

No, you can just finely mince fresh onion and garlic and sautee these in the pan with the long grain rice. You will have more of a “bite” than with the prepared refogado, since there will be larger, heterogenous pieces. If you prefer your rice more uniform, we suggest preparing the aromatics ahead of time in the refogado style. 

Easy Refogado Recipe for Arroz Brasileiro


1 small yellow onion
2 large heads of garlic (heads, not cloves! We know, it’s a lot of garlic, but it’s important)
¼ to ⅓ cup of extra virgin olive oil


  1. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Smash and peel the cloves of garlic from the two heads. You can make it a little easier on yourself by buying pre-peeled cloves of garlic. You’ll need about a cup total of individual cloves.
  2. Add the garlic and onion and ¼ cup of olive oil to a food processor. Pulse until you have a paste. If it is still chunky, add a little more olive oil.

Now let’s get to the main event: perfect Brazilian rice!

Brazilian Rice Recipe with Refogado

Makes about four servings


2 cups long grain white rice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp prepared refogado OR ¼ diced yellow onion and 2 minced garlic cloves
1.5 tsp salt
4 cups water


  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and the rice. Stir constantly until you see some grains begin to toast (they will take on a light golden color). This should take around 3 minutes. 
  2. When the rice starts to turn golden, add in the refogado or minced aromatics. Stir and cook along with the rice for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the water and salt and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, then cover. Simmer on low for 25 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. 

Serve hot with feijoada and your favorite protein. We love this as a satisfying lunch with some carne seca, or a special meal with Brazilian flank steak

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:


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