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Spicy Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce in a white serving dish

A Classic Holiday Side with a Spicy and Boozy Twist

Cranberry sauce is ubiquitous at the American holiday table. It is deliciously sweet and tart, perfect with a bite of tender turkey meat. It is also a festive red color, which helps brighten up a plate full of brown gravy, brown stuffing, and brown rolls. But not all cranberry sauce is created equal. Everyone seems to have their own recipe they claim is the best one. We’ll happily hop on that bandwagon and present you with our recipe for spicy cranberry sauce: sweet, sour, hot, and boozy, this is something a little special. 

Brazilian Cranberry Sauce 

You may remember from our recent Thanksgiving in Brazil blog that cranberry sauce is not eaten much in Brazil. This isn’t because Brazilians don’t like it, it is simply that cranberries do not grow there. While tinned options may be available online, most holiday dinners in Brazil omit the cranberries or swap it with a chutney or sauce made from jabuticaba, which are also known as Brazilian grapes. They have a similar taste and texture to cranberries, but with a hint of blueberry. 

Good luck finding jabuticabas in the US, though. They can be grown in tropical areas like Florida, but they are definitely an exotic item around here. So we will stick with the cranberries but with a decidedly Brazilian twist: cachaca and red pepper. The resulting spicy cranberry sauce is unlike any you’ve tasted. 

What Cachaca to Use for Spicy Cranberry Sauce?

You have a couple options when it comes to choosing a cachaca for your spicy cranberry sauce. You could go for a newer, small batch variety, which will have a simpler flavor profile. Young cachaca has a distinctive grassy flavor, courtesy of the fresh sugar cane juice from which it is made. Also known as prata, unaged cachaca is famous as the alcoholic component of a refreshing caipirinha. 

Aged cachaca (“envelhecida”), on the other hand, takes on a more complex flavor. It can taste oaky, like the barrels it is stored in, along with the spice and vanilla flavors of the wood. It maintains that signature grassy flavor, but it is often more mellow. 

In order to be legally designated as cachaca envelhecida, at least half of the liquor volume must have been aged for one year or more in a wooden barrel with a capacity of no more than 700 liters (around 185 gallons). Strict regulations apply to the unaged cachaca as well. 

For this spicy cranberry sauce recipe, we like aged cachaca. Really, though, it is your choice. In a pinch, you can use spiced rum. Just be aware that no Brazilian will agree with you that cachaca and rum are the same thing. 

Other Spicy Cranberry Sauce Ingredients

Obviously, you’ll need cranberries! Fresh is best, but frozen will work as well. You will also need some warming spices: cinnamon sticks and one or two whole cloves. They pair beautifully with the aged cachaca, which has a rich herby flavor and spiciness all its own. 

We couldn’t call this “spicy cranberry sauce” without the other star ingredient: cayenne. We are using a half teaspoon, but you can add more or less depending on your desired level of spice. It will be complemented by the sweetness of orange juice and sugar, and a kiss of vanilla extract for one final note. 

Can You Make Spicy Cranberry Sauce Ahead of Time?

Yes. In fact, it is best if you do make it at least a day ahead so it has time to set. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week before serving. If you wish to make it earlier than that, you can freeze it just as well. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then transfer the sauce to a freezer safe container or gallon bag and freeze until you are ready to use.

Spicy Cranberry Sauce Recipe with Cachaca


12 oz fresh cranberries (one pack)
1 cup of orange juice (with or without pulp)
1 ¼ cups white sugar
8 oz aged cachaca or spiced rum
1 tsp real vanilla extract
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
½ tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Add the sugar, cachaca, and orange juice to a saucepan over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. 
  2. Reduce the heat to low and add in the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Cover the saucepan and let the spices infuse for 5-10 minutes, then remove them.
  3. Add in your cranberries, vanilla extract, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium low. 
  4. Simmer the spicy cranberry sauce uncovered until the berries begin to pop. Yes, some of them will actually pop open! Let the mixture continue to simmer until the sauce thickens. 
  5. Transfer the sauce to a container and let it cool and set in the refrigerator for at least six hours, preferably overnight. 

What to Eat with Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Of course, turkey is delicious with this spicy, boozy cranberry sauce. But we have some other ideas:

Gift Card Specials at Texas de Brazil

Be sure to take advantage of our gift card specials at Texas de Brazil. For a limited time only, receive a $25 gift card for every $100 you purchase, and a bonus $10 gift card for every $50. Perfect for tucking into stockings and Christmas gift baskets, you’ll be sure to please everyone on your list!


Christmas Gift Basket Ideas

christmas gifts viewed from above

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Family, food, gratitude, and gift-giving are traditions we all look forward to. But sometimes, finding the perfect gift can be a little difficult, if not downright anxiety-inducing. We’ve made it easy for you with our list of unique and beautiful Christmas gift basket ideas, all courtesy of Texas de Brazil!

The Best Christmas Gift Basket Ideas for 2023

Artisanal Olive Oil

Tuck a beautiful bottle of Texas de Brazil’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil into your Christmas gift basket this year. Made from 100% Manzanilla Cacerena olives grown in Extremadura, Spain, this fruity and slightly smoky oil is perfect for cooking or dipping with crusty French bread.

Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is a universal crowd pleaser, and Texas de Brazil has two delectable versions: original and spicy. Both pack a smoky, flavorful punch-perfect for elevated snacking. 

Texas de Brazil original beef jerky in clear packet
TDB Original Beef Jerky 3 oz, $6.00

Spice Rub

Adding to our yummy list of Christmas gift basket ideas is our spicy grilling rub. A delicious blend of earthy spices and a good kiss of heat bring any cut of meat to the next level. It is the very same rub we use on our spicy picanha in the restaurant, so you know it’s good. 

Crossback Apron

For the dedicated chef or grill master, a beautiful and durable apron is in order. Roll up one of our Texas de Brazil aprons  to add to your Christmas gift basket. Crafted by renowned apron makers Hedley & Bennett, the signature crossback style is comfortable and helps the apron stay put for consistent coverage. Even better: it’s machine washable and one size fits all! 

Wine Tumbler

As far as Christmas gift basket ideas go, this one is always a crowd pleaser. Our woodgrain pattern stainless steel wine tumbler is not only gorgeous to look at, but keeps your beverage cold for up to sixteen hours and hot for eight! We can think of a few ways to test this, but we might start with a Brazilian mulled wine, followed by a chilled passion fruit caipirinha. Hey, it’s for science!

Texas de Brazil wine tumbler with wood grain pattern
TDB Wine Tumbler, $21.99

Gaucho Knife

This actually makes for a great gift all on its own, not just as a Christmas gift basket idea. A beautiful carving knife with a 10” stainless steel blade and a genuine leather sheath. Made in Brazil in the authentic facon style, you have your choice of a polished wood handle or a traditional horn style. It is presented in a wooden box for easy wrapping.  

Texas de Brazil gaucho knife in wooden box

TDB Gaucho Knife with wooden handle, $95

Christmas Gift Card

You can’t go wrong with a Texas de Brazil gift card, which can be used at any of our fine dining establishments or for more treats from our online shop. Choose an increment that suits your budget and give the fantastic gift of churrasco this season. To sweeten the deal, we’re giving you a $25 bonus card for every $100 you spend, and a $10 bonus for every $50 you spend on a gift card. 

What About a Christmas Box?

If putting together a Christmas basket isn’t your thing, what about having us put together a box for you? A box of meat, that is. In our online butcher shop, you can choose from hand curated collections or choose your own items a la cart to have delivered to a special someone. Or, send a box to yourself and be the star of Christmas dinner with a roast picanha or perfect rack of lamb. 

Thanksgiving in Brazil

Family gathering for Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is not a traditional holiday in Brazil, but the concept of expressing gratitude and celebrating with loved ones is certainly not unfamiliar to Brazilians. While Thanksgiving as it’s celebrated in the United States is not observed officially in Brazil, the country has its own special occasions and regional festivals that revolve around food, family, and thankfulness. Here’s a glimpse of how Brazilians celebrate gratitude and togetherness, along with some of the delicious foods they enjoy.

Brazilian Festivals of Gratitude

Festa Junina

This festival is celebrated in June and is a joyful time to give thanks to St. John the Baptist for the harvest and the rain. People dress up in traditional country attire, dance quadrilha (a Brazilian square dance), and enjoy various typical foods and sweets. 

Corn-based dishes are especially prevalent during Festa Junina, since the festivals take place during the country’s second harvest. Popcorn, sweet corn cakes (bolos de fuba), and corn puddings are all popular treats. The drink of choice is, of course, cachaca; but Brazilian mulled wine is also a favorite. 


Christmas is a big deal in Brazil. Much of the celebration takes place on December 24, when family and friends get together to eat, exchange gifts, and attend midnight mass. The next day is spent relaxing and reflecting on the past year, giving thanks for blessings and togetherness.

Christmas dinner almost always includes rice and beans (feijoada), fresh fruit, and rabanada-Brazilian deep fried french toast. The main dish could be a chester, which is a boneless chicken, or salt cod in cream (bacalhau com natas).or fried into croquettes

Father’s Day 

Brazilian Father’s Day takes place in August. Children make cards at school and older children buy presents like cologne or clothing. Grandfathers and uncles are also celebrated. The family might attend mass together and then celebrate at a restaurant or with churrasco, the famous Brazilian barbecue. 

Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is celebrated in May on the same day as in the US. Similarly, cards and flowers are popular gifts and tokens of gratitude. Like father’s day, cookouts are common, especially since the weather is cooling down a bit. Churrasco is common, as are picnics with classics like pasta salad, potato salad, and chicken salad.


Carnival is a time for Catholics to indulge one last time before the long period of fasting known as Lent. In Brazil, regional parades are a lavish affair, with floats, elaborate costumes, and samba competitions. The food is an integral part. Ideally, snacks are portable, so you can view the parades while you eat. Some of the most popular carnival treats include:

  • Brazilian cheese bread: nutty, chewy, cheese-stuffed puffs made with cassava flour
  • Brigadeiros: chocolate fudge balls made with condensed milk and cocoa, rolled in sprinkles
  • Acaraje: famously purveyed by the Baianas of Bahia, acaraje are delicious fritters made from beans and aromatics, then stuffed with a mixture of seafood in a vibrant sauce. 
  • Churros: plain or filled with chocolate or dulce de leche, then rolled in cinnamon sugar
  • Picanha: of course, picanha is always a favorite. A flavorful cut of beef is rolled into a “c shape,” skewered, grilled over an open flame, then sliced onto waiting plates.

Regional Celebrations

Brazil is a diverse country with a variety of regional cultures and traditions. Each region has its own unique way of celebrating and expressing gratitude. For example, in the state of Bahia, people celebrate Lavagem do Bonfim, a religious festival that involves cleaning the steps of the Bonfim Church. In the south, Oktoberfest is a popular celebration with German influences, where people come together to enjoy beer, food, and music.

Dia de Acao de Gracas

While Brazil does not officially celebrate Thanksgiving, many citizens have adopted the American tradition and choose to observe the holiday on the same day as the US. Like other holidays in Brazil, it may involve going to mass or prayers for loved ones. The dinner is very similar, usually with a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc. 

One important difference is that there are no cranberries in Brazil! Instead of the traditional American cranberry sauce, Brazilians make a sweet compote with jaboticaba, a berry similar in size and taste to the cranberry. 

Thanksgiving at Texas de Brazil

As you can see, the spirit of gratitude, togetherness, and festive food is very much a part of Brazilian culture, and not limited to one day of the year! Brazilians find various occasions to celebrate with loved ones and enjoy their rich culinary traditions as often as they can. 

We hope you are celebrating with those dear to you this season, and that you consider stopping by one of our Texas de Brazil restaurants for an unforgettable Thanksgiving meal. Or, order one of our amazing Thanksgiving takeout feasts: succulent sliced turkey breast, peppercorn gravy, our signature beans and rice, a sweet and delicious sweet potato casserole, and fresh green beans are available in two sizes to feed the whole family. 

Picadinho With Butternut Squash

Picadinho with butternut squash and rice

A Comforting Stew with Beef and Winter Squash

Brazilian picadinho, a traditional beef stew, is a delicious and hearty dish that brings together the rich flavors of beef, butternut squash, and a medley of spices. It is a hearty, warming dish that beautifully incorporates the tastes of Fall. The colors alone are a showstopper. Plus, it is ridiculously easy to make and the ingredients are cheap. What more could you want in a winter meal?

Picadinho vs Picadillo

You may notice a similarity in this dish and another known as “picadillo.” While the two dishes share certain ingredients, they differ significantly in taste and texture. For one, picadillo is made using minced beef, while picadinho uses large cubes of meat. Picadinho also makes use of starchy vegetables, like butternut squash, in place of the salty olives and/or raisins in picadillo. Finally, picadillo is meant to cook quickly. As a stew, picadinho needs time to tenderize the meat and bloom the herbs and spices. 

What to Eat with Picadinho?

Brazilian beef stew is plenty filling enough to enjoy in a bowl all by itself. However, if you fancy pairing it with a side dish, Brazilian rice is an excellent choice. It would also taste great ladled over some egg noodles (like this estrogonofe de carne recipe), or with a side of garlic mashed potatoes

Vegetarian Options for Picadinho

While the beef is traditionally the star of Brazilian stew, you can certainly omit the meat and substitute it with some hearty chickpeas, more squash, and some diced potatoes for added “heft.” Just keep in mind that you will not need to cook the stew nearly as long, so check the veggies often so they don’t get too mushy. 

Can You Make Picadinho in the Crock Pot?

Of course! In fact, we think picadinho tastes even better in the slow cooker. We recommend taking a few steps before tossing in the ingredients:

  • Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper, then sear on all sides lightly over medium high heat.
  • Add in another twist of oil and lightly fry the garlic and onion.
  • Deglaze the pan with the wine.
  • Put the beef, garlic, onion, spices, wine, and broth into the crock pot.
  • Cook on low for six hours, or on high for four hours. 
  • When you have one hour left, add in the butternut squash, tomatoes, and bell peppers. 

Brazilian Picadinho de Carne Recipe


1.5 lbs chuck steak cut into one inch cubes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced2 tomatoes, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium butternut squashed, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika (not smoked)
1 cup beef broth
1 tsp salt (more to taste)
½ cup white wine
2 bay leaves
¼ cup fresh parsley or cilantro


  1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Season the beef with salt and pepper and sear on all sides. Transfer to a plate. 
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add in another drizzle of oil and add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook just until softened and fragrant.
  4. Deglaze the pan by adding in the red wine and scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom. 
  5. Return the meat to the pot along with the squash, tomatoes, peppers, broth, cumin, paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Toss in a couple bay leaves.
  6. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, and simmer for one hour to 90 minutes, until the meat is tender.
  7. Serve piping hot, garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley. 

TIP: If you need to thicken the sauce, you can make a cornstarch slurry: start with one tablespoon of cornstarch to two tablespoons of water. Add the mixture to your stew and bring it to a boil. Add more as needed to achieve a gravy-like consistency.

Brazilian Beef Home Delivery 

To get the freshest, highest quality meat for your next stew recipe, visit Texas de Brazil’s online butcher shop. Premium cuts of beef, lamb, and pork are available a la carte or in hand-curated boxes-all delivered right to your door. Be the host-with-the-most this holiday season and visit our website today. 


Forbidden Rice Recipe from Bahia

forbidden black rice topped with calamari and shrimp

The beautiful beaches of Bahia have long been a favorite tourist destination. The area is famous for its nightlife, clear waters, and fresh seafood. In the 1970s, it became a haven for the hippie movement after Mick Jagger visited the town of Trancoso. At that time, a hotel chef developed a unique dish evocative of the region’s melting pot of cultures and tastes: black “forbidden” rice with fruits of the sea simmered in white wine, garlic, and tomato sauce. The hotel Uxua remains in operation, although the menu changes at the current chef’s whim. Luckily, the original forbidden rice recipe from Bahia is easy and quick to make at home. 

What is Forbidden Rice?

Forbidden rice encompasses around twenty varieties of rice with a high content of anthocyanins, a pigment that gives certain foods a red, purple, blue, or black color. In the case of rice, the grains appear black when raw, then turn a beautiful purple when cooked. For this reason, forbidden rice is also known as black or purple rice. 

Researchers have determined that black rice likely arose from a simple mutation. Viewing the color as desirable, farmers then selected the plants with this mutation for growing. No known species of wild black rice have ever been found, which confirms the theory that it arose randomly after rice cultivation was well established. 

Forbidden rice produces much smaller yields than its white and brown counterparts, which makes it more expensive. Its rarity combined with perceived health effects meant it was originally reserved for only the very wealthy. In fact, when it was first cultivated in China, it was forbidden to all except the emperor and his family (hence the name). 

Is Forbidden Rice Good for You?

Forbidden rice continues to be used as both a food product and medicine in China and other parts of the world. Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends it, in particular, as a tonic for seniors. Communities in Nepal incorporate it into the diet of pregnant women. But is it really better for you than white, red, or brown rice? 

Black rice has fewer calories, less carbs, and higher levels of fiber and iron than other rice varieties. But the numbers are pretty close: 5 percent of your daily iron in forbidden rice vs 4 percent in brown rice, for example. So why is it still being touted as a superfood?

It may be due to the pigment in the rice itself, which exerts antioxidant properties not found in non-pigmented rice. Anthocyanins found in forbidden rice and other dark-colored foods are being studied for their anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-obesity properties. Ongoing research supports their use in future pharmaceuticals for memory support as well. 

How to Cook Black Rice

You cook forbidden rice in much the same way you would any other type of rice: you boil it with water until it is tender. Ratios vary from recipe to recipe, but we find that 2 cups of water to one cup of black rice is sufficient. We also like to toast the kernels in a little oil before boiling to give them a little bite and keep the grains from sticking together too much. This is an essential step in classic Brazilian rice as well. 

What Seafood is Used for Brazilian Black Rice?

This forbidden rice recipe uses calamari and prawns, but you can use any seafood you like. Mussels would be delicious in the white wine sauce, as would clams and big hunks of buttery lobster. You can also omit the seafood entirely if you do not like it or you have an allergy. The rice on its own is a delicious side dish to almost any accompaniment, and the sauce is equally tasty on chicken and pork. 

Forbidden Rice Recipe (Arroz preto com camarão e lula)


1 pound shrimp or prawns, deveined (medium size is good)
1 pound small calamari, cleaned well. (Separate the arms from the rest of the body and cut that part into ¼” slices lengthways. You will use both the arms and the slices)
1 cup black rice
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine (dry not sweet)
⅓ cup tomato sauce, unseasoned
1.5 tsp salt, more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 oz butter, unsalted
Fresh parsley


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add in your forbidden rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. You won’t be able to tell if it is toasted due to the dark color, but you can smell it. It will have a nutty scent. Just stir it constantly for about five minutes. 
  2. When the rice is toasted, add in your onion and garlic and stir for a further minute or two until they are fragrant and softened. 
  3. Add in the salt and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Simmer until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender (around 30 minutes).
  4. While the rice cooks, prepare your seafood. Heat a skillet over medium heat and melt half of the butter (1 tbsp). Add in your prawns and cook for a couple minutes each side until they are just pink on the outside and firm, but not tough. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the cooked prawns/shrimp to a plate. Turn the heat up to medium high. 
  6. Add in another tablespoon of butter and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Fry your calamari in 2-3 batches so they cook evenly. They will finish quickly-around one minute is all they need. Be sure to flip them once while cooking. 
  7. Remove the calamari and deglaze your hot pan with the white wine. Scrape up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. 
  8. Stir in the tomato puree and tip the seafood into the sauce. Heat through, then pile high on a good scoop of the forbidden rice. Spoon any extra sauce over the top and garnish with fresh parsley. 

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try

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