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Cornmeal Porridge With Coconut Milk (Canjica)

blue bowl of cornmeal porridge topped with cinnamon sticks

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Corn dishes are extremely popular in Brazil, especially in sweet favorites like curao de milho, cornmeal cake, and pamonhas. Today’s recipe is another sweet treat featuring corn: cornmeal porridge with coconut milk and, of course, sweetened condensed milk. Infused with warming spices, it is the perfect comfort dish on a cold winter morning. 

Do Brazilians Eat Cornmeal Porridge for Breakfast?

Generally speaking, breakfast in Brazil is a light meal with milky coffee and a little starch, like a buttered roll or slice of baguette. While porridge is generally consumed in the States as a breakfast item, this creamy cornmeal version is more often eaten as a dessert or snack during the Festas Juninas in Brazil. 

The Festas Juninas take place shortly after the country’s second harvest of sweet corn. They honor St. John the Baptist and are meant to celebrate the harvest, with plenty of corn dishes for sale. It is, after all, winter in the Southern Hemisphere, so warm, comforting dishes are in order. As a cheap and plentiful crop, you’ll find corn just about everywhere: popcorn, roasted corn on the cob, sweet corn pudding, cornmeal cakes, and even on top of hot dogs

Where Does Cornmeal Porridge Come From?

Cornmeal porridge is called “canjica” in Portuguese. Like many dishes, it likely arrived with slaves from West Africa. The Bantu languages have similar words to describe dishes made from ground corn. 

From Portuguese, “canjica” also refers to hominy, which is dried corn kernels that have been soaked in an alkali solution (sometimes lye). Traditional Brazilian recipes for canjica often call for canned or dried hominy in place of cornmeal. This is certainly an option, but we like the cornmeal for simplicity and speed.

Toppings for Cornmeal Porridge?

This canjica is already infused with lovely spices and vanilla, as well as that sweet shredded coconut. It really doesn’t need much on top, except another dash of cinnamon and a few coconut flakes. That being said, you can kick it up a notch with a few toppings that pair well with the other flavors:

  • Fruit: bananas, peaches, and apples work especially well with the cinnamon and coconut
  • Cream: a splash of heavy whipping cream never goes amiss with a good bowl of porridge
  • Roasted peanuts: many Brazilians like to top their canjica with some chopped roasted peanuts for added crunch and flavor
  • Shaved chocolate: why not? Chocolate is always welcome, and with the cinnamon, the taste would be reminiscent of a lovely Mexican hot chocolate. 

Cornmeal Pudding Recipe 

Ingredients:

1 cup cornmeal
2 cups water
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup condensed milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt (optional, to taste)
Additional condensed milk or brown sugar for sweetening (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Cornmeal Mixture: in a bowl, mix the cornmeal with 1 cup of water until it forms a smooth paste.
  2. Cook the Cornmeal Mixture: in a pot, bring the remaining 1 cup of water to a boil. Once boiling, gradually add the cornmeal mixture to the pot while stirring continuously to prevent lumps from forming.
  3. Add Coconut Milk and Shredded Coconut: lower the heat to medium and stir in the coconut milk and shredded coconut. Let the mixture simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to your desired consistency.
  4. Add Condensed Milk and Spices: pour in the condensed milk and stir well to combine. Add the ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt if desired. Continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  5. Adjust Consistency and Sweetness: if the porridge is too thick, you can add more water or coconut milk to reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust sweetness by adding more condensed milk or brown sugar, if needed.
  6. Serve: once the porridge reaches your preferred consistency and sweetness, remove it from the heat. Serve warm in bowls, garnished with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or shredded coconut on top if desired.

Enjoy!

 

Perfect Valentine’s Day Breakfast

Valentine's Day Breakfast of Brazilian beans on toast with fried eggBeans on Toast: Brazilian Style

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Nothing is more romantic than breakfast in bed: something hand-cooked with love, a steaming mug of coffee, and maybe a fresh rose is a winning combination by any stretch of the imagination. But what do you make? Pancakes are nice, but a touch boring (and sticky). Eggs Benedict is lovely, but poached eggs aren’t in everyone’s skillset. So what dish is the perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast? Drumroll, please…it’s beans on toast. 

Now, before you start laughing, hear us out. Sure, beans on toast is not known for being a classy or romantic dish. In fact, it is about as simple as a meal can get: a can of Heinz beans in tomato sauce warmed up in a saucepan or the microwave, then unceremoniously dumped on top of a slice of toasted bread. No shade–it is actually delicious, especially with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. 

But we want something special. Our Valentine’s Day breakfast takes the humble beans on toast to gourmet heights by incorporating a little Brazilian flare. That’s right: this is beans on toast, Brazilian style. 

Brazilian Beans on Toast

This beans on toast dish is by no means an authentic Brazilian recipe. It is a hybrid of the classic British recipe and distinctly Brazilian flavors. Specifically, we are drawing inspiration from one of Brazil’s most treasured dishes: feijoada

Feijoada is a black bean stew simmered with calabresa sausage, bacon, herbs, and aromatics. It is earthy, spicy, and utterly delicious. That is why it finds its way onto the table at nearly every meal, along with a pot of fresh Brazilian rice. 

Sausage, bacon, and beans might be a little rich for the start of a romantic day. That is why we have adapted the recipe to be largely vegetarian. Beans are still slow simmered in a flavorful broth, but we omit the greasy sausage and bacon in favor of a runny egg on top. 

Eggs for Beans on Toast

While most Brazilians do not typically consume eggs for breakfast, they are not averse to them in other dishes. Most often, they come in the hard boiled variety. You’ll find hard boiled eggs in and on everything, from Brazilian pizza to salt cod dishes. That being said, you could substitute the fried egg for this Valentine’s day breakfast with a hard boiled one. You can also skip the egg entirely if you want a vegan option. 

Feijoada vs Tutu de Feijão

There is another dish in Brazil that is called “tutu de feijao.” Like feijoada, it uses soaked black beans. Unlike feijoada, however, it does not call for sausage and the beans are pureed before they are cooked with bacon and aromatics. Today’s Valentine’s breakfast is, perhaps, a hybrid of Feijoada and Tutu de Feijao, since we are omitting the meat but leaving the beans intact. 

What Type of Bread is Best for Beans on Toast?

You want a sturdy bread that can maintain a decent crunch while being smothered in that delicious feijoada and runny egg. For our money, you can’t go wrong with sourdough. Cut it nice and thick and toast it with a brushing of olive oil, and you can practically eat this Valentine’s breakfast with your hands (maybe don’t try it if you are having it in bed, though). 

Another surprising pair is brioche with beans on toast. The savory, saltiness of the beans is beautifully offset by the sweet, slightly caramel flavor of the brioche. However, the brioche is a much softer bread, so you won’t have the toasty crunch for long. 

What Drink for Valentine’s Day Breakfast?

While we don’t understand it, we accept that not everyone is a coffee-lover. Brazilians themselves tend to go light on the coffee in the mornings, with just a splash of it in a warmed milk drink called “pingado.” We think something sweet is in order to go with this savory breakfast. You could try, for example, a hot mug of creamy Brazilian hot chocolate or black tea with cream and sugar. 

If you really want to win your Valentine’s Day breakfast, though, may we suggest a mimosa with passionfruit juice in place of orange juice?  

Dry Beans vs Canned Beans for Brazilian Beans on Toast?

While we are certain to get a slap on the wrist for this, you can use canned beans for this recipe. We prefer the dry beans for flavor and texture, but canned versions are just fine in a pinch. Just keep in mind that you will need to significantly reduce the cook time (probably the appealing part of using canned beans). Simmer until the flavors have had time to meld and everything is heated through–around 30 minutes. 

Smoky Flavor Without Sausage?

Our secret weapon for today is smoked paprika. Even a small amount lends an earthy, meaty flavor without any smoked sausage or bacon at all. We also add in a little Worcestershire sauce for British authenticity and umami, but you can leave this out if you want to keep the beans vegan. 

Valentine’s Day Breakfast Recipe: Gourmet Beans on Toast

Ingredients:

1 lb dry black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
3 large tomatoes, diced (or 1 can stewed tomatoes)
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tsp smoked paprika
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
4 cups vegetable or mushroom stock
4 cups water
Extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tsp salt (more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves

Directions:

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and stir in the diced onion. Cook until the onion softens and appears translucent.
  2. Add in the garlic and tomatoes and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  3. Drain the beans of their soaking water and rinse them well under fresh cold water. Then add them to the pan with the onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
  4. Add the stock, water, smoked paprika, salt, bay leaves, and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. 
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for two hours. Then, remove the lid and simmer for a further 30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add a dash or two of the Worcestershire sauce add this time.
  6. When the beans are nearly finished cooking, toast your bread and prepare the eggs. In a small saucepan, add a generous amount of olive oil and heat over medium. Crack in two eggs and fry until all nearly the whites have turned opaque. Then, flip the eggs and cook for another 30 seconds (over easy). 
  7. Add two slices of toast to a plate. Ladle a good amount of your beans on top of each slice, then finish with the runny, fried eggs. 

Note: this recipe makes quite a lot. You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week or freeze them for up to four months. 

Now, What About Valentine’s Day Dinner?

Why not keep this Brazilian theme going and take your sweetheart out for an incredible meal at one of Texas de Brazil’s fine dining locations? Our attentive gauchos, mouth-watering dishes, and romantic atmosphere will ensure you have the perfect Valentine’s Day celebration. Go online to find the location nearest you and book your table today–spots fill up fast! 

One Pan Coconut Lime Chicken

coconut lime chicken with fresh lime and cilantro garnishes

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Coconut milk is a popular ingredient in many Brazilian recipes, like savory pumpkin stew or the famous moqueca. It lends a creamy, tropical note to any dish, and this one pan coconut lime chicken recipe is no exception. It incorporates the bright taste of coconut and lime, with the earthier, warming spices of a traditional curry. It comes together in less than an hour and cooks in one pot for easy clean up. In other words: one pan coconut lime chicken is your next go-to weeknight dinner. 

Is One Pan Coconut Lime Chicken Spicy?

Yes, this recipe has a bit of a kick to it. It has both cayenne pepper and diced jalapeno, so we’d give it a heat rating of medium to medium high. That being said, you can customize the recipe to suit your preferences. Want more heat? Add another jalapeno or a pinch more cayenne. Prefer it mild? Remove the ribs and seeds from your jalapeno, use half the cayenne, or skip the spicy bits all together. 

Healthy Versions of Coconut Lime Chicken

There are a couple ways you can tone down the calories in your one pan coconut lime chicken dinner. While we love the silky, creamy texture and toasted flavor of full fat coconut milk, we are aware it is not the most waist-friendly of ingredients. You can substitute fat-free coconut milk if you are trying to limit your calorie intake. You can also use chicken breasts in place of chicken thighs, which are slightly higher in fat and calories. 

What to Serve with One Pan Coconut Lime Chicken?

Our favorite thing to eat with this chicken, or almost any Brazilian dish, is Brazilian rice. It is a simple recipe of white rice toasted with garlic and onions, then simmered in water or broth until fluffy but not sticky. This style of rice is served with nearly every meal in Brazil. It is so popular that many Brazilians prepare a jar of the aromatics (“refogado”) ahead of time. 

Another great pairing would be crispy yuca fries. Serve the chicken and a generous ladleful of the coconut lime sauce over a bed of fried yuca and *chef’s kiss* you’ll have your new favorite comfort food.

Chicken Breasts vs Chicken Thighs

We like to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe for three reasons:  

  1. They have a deeper flavor that can stand up to the spices 
  2. It is much harder to overcook thighs.  
  3. They are way cheaper than chicken breasts. 

However, you can absolutely substitute the chicken thighs for breasts in your one pan coconut lime chicken. 

Can You Freeze One Pan Coconut Lime Chicken?

Sure. You can store leftovers or a make-ahead version in your freezer for up to three months. We’d recommend thawing it in the oven, however, as opposed to the stove top, so you don’t aggressively reheat the chicken. Bake it covered in an oven-safe dish at 350 for around an hour, then squeeze some fresh lime juice over the top to awaken the zing you may have lost from the cold. 

One Pan Coconut Lime Chicken Recipe

Ingredients:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 2 inch cubes
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
1 can stewed, diced tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh, chopped cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Marinate the Chicken: in a bowl, combine the chicken with coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, salt, black pepper ,fresh  lime juice, and a splash of olive oil. Toss the chicken until evenly coated. Let it marinate for at least 15-20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the Pan: heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Cook the Chicken: place the marinated chicken in the pan and cook until browned on all sides. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Once browned, remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.
  4. Saute Onions and Garlic: reduce the heat to medium. In the same pan you used for the chicken, add a bit more olive oil if needed. Saute the chopped onion until it becomes translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  5. Pour in Coconut Milk: pour in the can of unsweetened coconut milk, stirring well to combine with the spices and onions.
  6. Add Tomatoes, Jalapeno, Bell Pepper, and Lime Juice: stir in the can of stewed, diced tomatoes. Return the browned chicken to the pan. Add fresh lime juice and diced jalapenos and bell pepper.
  7. Simmer: bring the mixture to a rolling simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the jalapenos and bell pepper have softened.
  8. Serve: once the chicken is fully cooked and the flavors have melded together, serve your One Pan Coconut Lime Chicken over Brazilian rice or with your favorite side dishes. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

Texas de Brazil Meat Delivery

Don’t forget to order your butcher box to arrive in time for Valentine’s Day! Select from premium cuts of beef, pork, and lamb so you can prepare the perfect romantic dinner at home. For a limited time, orders of $150 or more earn a free Australian rack of lamb ($24 value). Visit our online market today to get started. 

Hot Chocolate with Condensed Milk

Brazilian Chocolate Quente Cremoso

white mug of hot chocolate

The winter months are in full swing here in the northern hemisphere, which means many of us are scrambling to stay warm or just pass the time on these short days. A cup of something cheerful seems in order, and there is nothing cozier (or more decadent) than a mug of steaming hot chocolate. It’s just the thing when you’re curled up with a good book, watching your favorite show, or just enjoying the winter scenery through your window. Of course, today we are offering a Brazilian spin on this classic beverage: hot chocolate with condensed milk–a must have ingredient for virtually anything sweet in Brazil. 

Is Hot Chocolate with Condensed Milk Thick?

Well, yes. Hot chocolate with condensed milk will naturally be thicker than if you had made it with just milk. It is still perfectly sippable and, in our opinion, that extra thickness only lends to the velvety texture and rich taste. 

That being said, if you prefer your hot chocolate a little thinner, you can always lessen the amount of condensed milk that you use. Much of the sweetness in this recipe is derived from the condensed milk, however, so you may need to add a little sugar or more semisweet chocolate to make up for it. 

Hot Chocolate vs Hot Cocoa?

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, hot chocolate and hot cocoa are not the same thing. Both use a base of milk or sometimes water, but hot chocolate uses melted chocolate morsels or chopped bars, and hot cocoa uses cocoa powder. 

This recipe for hot chocolate with condensed milk is, technically, a hybrid. We are using both bittersweet chocolate bits and a little cocoa powder. In our opinion, the blend reins in the texture and keeps the taste from being too cloying. 

Can You Use Water in Hot Chocolate with Condensed Milk?

Sure. You can replace the whole milk in this recipe with water if you want a healthier option. But then again, it’s hot chocolate–it’s meant to be indulgent! We strongly suggest going no leaner than 2% milk in this recipe. Water simply doesn’t have the same creamy, slightly sweet profile as milk. 

What Spices/Toppings for Hot Chocolate?

You don’t need to add anything to this recipe, but if you want to spice up your hot chocolate with condensed milk, there are plenty of options. A dash of cinnamon never goes amiss. You could also add a smidge of peppermint extract or even orange, if you like that combo. Have fun with it. Some other fun toppings and additions might include:

  • Whipped cream
  • Crushed candy canes/peppermint
  • Chocolate sprinkles
  • Mini marshmallows or a dollop of marshmallow cream
  • Peppermint schnapps for the adults
  • Bailey’s or other coffee liqueur 
  • A splash of spiced rum or aged cachaca

Recipe for Creamy Hot Chocolate with Condensed Milk 

Ingredients:

4 cups whole milk
14 oz sweetened condensed milk (one can)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4.5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped or in morsels
½ tsp Vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the milk and sweetened condensed milk over medium heat. When it begins to slowly simmer, stir in the cocoa powder. Next, add in the chocolate a little bit at the time, stirring in between each addition to allow it to melt. 
  2. Continue stirring the mixture over medium heat until all of the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth, creamy mixture. 
  3. Remove your Brazilian hot chocolate from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 
  4. Serve hot in mugs with your favorite toppings and garnish. 

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try

Bolo Rei

bolo rei with one slice on a plate in front

Brazilian Kings Cake

The Kings Cake is a traditional dessert associated with Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. This is a Catholic observance to commemorate the biblical visitation of Jesus by the Three Wise Men. There are variations around the world, including Brazil, where it is known as bolo rei. It is a simple yet impressive looking cake, with decorations added specifically for their symbolism. 

Bolo Rei History

Although the Catholic Church declared Epiphany a holy day in around 325 AD, the first King Cake is thought to have originated in France much later in the 13th or 14th century. Today, there are two primary versions of French bolo rei: the first is an almond frangipane wrapped in crisp puff pastry; the second, which is more popular in Southern France, is an orange-flavored brioche studded with candied fruits.  

The bolo rei has since made its way to a large part of the Western Christian world, and it is not limited to Epiphany. In New Orleans, for example, it is heavily associated with Mardi Gras and appears on tables throughout the month of January and up to the day before Lent (Ash Wednesday). 

What to Hide in Bolo Rei?

One of the traditions associated with the king cake is a hidden trinket. In most cases, it is a fava bean and/or a small toy. The person who has the slice with the bean must host the celebration the following year. The small toy is for one of the younger guests, who is then crowned  “king” for the day. 

In the past, the bean and toy were baked into the bolo rei. Today, it is best practice to insert them after the cake is baked to avoid surprise melting or unpleasant tastes. Just frost over the spot where you put them or cover them with the dried fruit. 

What is in Bolo Rei?

Bolo rei is more similar to the southern French version. You leaven the cake with yeast and decorate it with candied fruits that are soaked in copious amounts of port wine. Traditional fruits include candied red and green cherries, pineapple rings, and orange peels. Mixed nuts are also added for crunch. The toppings are meant to represent the gifts brought by the Magi to the infant Jesus: the golden crust is for gold, the candied fruit for the sticky myrrh resin, and the spicy aroma to mimic the scent of frankincense. 

Do You Have to Use Fruit in Bolo Rei?

Fruit is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially the dried and candied variety. You can omit the fruit entirely or exchange it for orange extract or cognac to get that citrusy flavor. There are also variations that use chocolate in place of the nuts (yum) and dust the topping with shaved chocolate and powdered sugar. Really, you can customize it however you like. Just don’t forget the fava bean and a little toy. 

Bolo Roi Recipe

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp active dry yeast
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2.5 oz butter, softened
3 eggs
½ tsp salt
Zest from one orange
4 oz warm milk
4 oz port wine or brandy
¼ cup mixed candied fruits, chopped ( cherries, apricots, and citrus are good)
1 oz mixed nuts, chopped into small pieces
Whole pieces of dried fruit for the top
Whole nuts, like almonds, walnuts, and pecans, to decorate the top
Confectioner’s sugar

Directions: How to Make Bolo Rei

1: Activate the yeast

  • Heat the milk until lukewarm and dissolve a teaspoon of sugar in it.
  • Add the yeast to the milk-sugar mixture, stir gently, and set it aside for about 10-15 minutes until it becomes frothy.

2: Prepare the filling and topping

  • Soak the chopped candied fruit in a bowl with the port or brandy while you wait for the dough to rise. After 30 minutes, strain the infused fruit and mix in the chopped nuts. 

3: Prepare the dough

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and orange zest.
  • Add the activated yeast mixture, 2 eggs, softened butter, and fruit-and-nut mixture to the dry ingredients.
  • Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth and elastic dough. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours, or until it doubles in size.

 4: Assemble the Bolo Rei

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Punch down the risen dough and shape it into a ring, leaving a hole in the center.
  • Place the dough ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Brush the surface of the dough with 1 tbsp water mixed with the remaining egg. Arrange the whole candied fruits and nuts mixture on top, pressing them gently into the dough.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown.

 5: Serve and Enjoy

  • Once baked, remove the Bolo Rei from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. Before serving, dust the cake with powdered sugar for an extra touch of sweetness. Alternatively, you can mix a couple tablespoons of strawberry jam with a little water to make a syrup to provide both sweetness and shine. 

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try

Frango a Passarinho (Brazilian Fried Chicken)

frango a passarinho, brazilian fried chicken, piled on a white dish with a lime wedge garnish

Nearly every culture has a version of battered and fried chicken. From katsu in Japan to pollo frito in Italy, the combination of juicy chicken coated and a crunchy crust is a universal favorite. No surprise, then, that Brazil has its own version of fried chicken: frango a passarinho. It is a staple in the bar scene but is just as delicious when enjoyed at home. 

What is Frango a Passarinho?

Frango a passarinho has a somewhat comical English translation: “chicken like a little bird.” The name is a reference to the bite sized pieces that are used. A whole roasting chicken is reduced to mini morsels; you are effectively making a “little bird” from the bigger bird, or chicken. It’s probably best not to think too much about it. 

When Do Brazilians Eat Frango a Passarinho?

Brazilian fried chicken is often featured on petiscos menus. Petiscos are simply the Brazilian version of tapas–small dishes meant to be shared with friends at a crowded boteco, or bar. Brazilians will often make a night of it, socializing and wandering from bar to bar, enjoying frequent little bites to help insulate against the inebriating effects of alcohol. (Check out our recipe for montaditos for another petisco favorite.)

Do You Have to Use a Whole Chicken?

No, in fact our recipe for frango a passarinho uses only wings and drumettes. Traditional recipes often call for chopping up a whole chicken into tiny pieces–.even the wings are divided into two or three pieces. We’re of the opinion that this is a) too much work and b) too little reward per piece, especially when navigating around bones. Furthermore, the dark meat of the wings and drumettes is less prone to drying out than breast meat, which means you can get a crispier crust without overcooking them. 

Do You Marinate Frango a Passarinho?

Yes, a simple marinade of garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper is used to pump up the flavor and texture of your Brazilian fried chicken. We also like to add a little brown sugar for sweetness and some fresh, chopped cilantro for an herbaceous kick. You only need to marinate the chicken for an hour, but overnight will be ideal. 

Recipe for Brazilian Fried Chicken (Frango a Passarinho)

Ingredients:

2 lbs chicken wings and drumettes
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
Juice of 2-3 limes (four tablespoons)
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp brown sugar
1.5 cups flour
Vegetable oil for frying
Chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the minced garlic, lime juice, 1 tsp salt, black pepper, brown sugar and cilantro. Toss in the chicken and stir until evenly coated, then let it marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or large, deep skillet to 350°F (175°C).
  3. While the oil is heating, prepare your flour mixture: mix the flour, 1 tsp of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a shallow container. 
  4. Add a few pieces of chicken to the flour mixture and roll to coat. Shake off any excess and transfer the chicken to a tray or dish. Repeat until all the chicken has a nice dusting of flour.
  5. Place half the chicken carefully in the hot oil and cook until crisp and golden brown and they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit. This should take around 10-12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cooling rack lined with paper towels. Repeat this process with the rest of the chicken.
  6. Add a squeeze of lime over the finished chicken and garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. 

Tips for Extra Crispy Brazilian Fried Chicken

  1. Make sure the oil is the right temperature. Oil that is too hot will result in a burnt crust and raw chicken. By contrast, oil that is too cold can result in a soggy crust that is too oily and pale in color.
  2. Fry the chicken in batches. Overcrowding the pot will drop the oil temperature and cause uneven cooking.
  3. When dredging the chicken in the flour mixture, press the pieces into it with a good amount of force. This helps the mixture stay onto the chicken when frying. 

Brazilian Food Catered

Getting back to the grind for 2024? Why not start the year in style with Texas de Brazil’s catering service? Delicious churrasco meats and our famous side dishes brought right to your office will set the mood for a productive and motivated new year. Our dishes are slow-roasted, so please give us at least 5 hours to prepare your perfect meal. Go online to place an order today. 

Easy Side Dishes for Ham

sliced ham

While turkey continues to be the favored holiday dinner protein, many Americans also choose ham as their main dish. In fact, around 318 million pounds of ham was eaten for Christmas in 2022. These days, ham is more expensive than many other meats, thanks to rising labor and food production costs. You may be looking to offset your pricey porcine with a few easy and pocket-friendly accompaniments. We’ve got you covered. Here are a few ideas for easy side dishes for ham that are fast, cheap, but still delicious.  

Quick Side Dishes for Ham Dinner

Brazilian Cheese Bread

a basket of Brazilian cheese bread

First on the list of our easy side dishes for ham: Brazilian cheese bread. Instead of the traditional yeast roll, why not try your hand at some gooey, cheesy pao de queijo? Made from tapioca starch, these bite-sized morsels are nutty, chewy, and absolutely addictive. Bonus: they are completely gluten free and made with ingredients you likely already have on hand (aside from the tapioca flour). Try stuffing them with sausage if you really want to wow your guests. 

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

cranberries in a white serviing bowl

Our recipe for boozy cranberry sauce with a little heat revs up this traditional holiday favorite. We use vanilla, cinnamon, clove, and a big pinch of cayenne pepper to cut through the sweetness of the dish, adding a healthy splash of aged cachaca for even more flavor. The cachaca is by far the priciest part of this recipe; you can replace it with water or a little rum, if you already have that on hand. 

Couve Mineira (Brazilian Collard Greens)

Brazilian finely sliced collards with bacon

You may not think of collard greens when you are in the market for “easy” ham side dishes. That is because traditional Southern recipes often take hours to stew the greens until they are tender. Brazilian collards cook up quickly since they are sliced into uber-thin strips and sauteed in oil. Add a little garlic, onion, and bacon, and you have a delicious accompaniment for your holiday ham. 

Brazilian Rice

Brazilian long grain rice with mint garnish

Next up on our list of easy side dishes for ham: rice. No holiday meal in Brazil (or any meal, really) is complete without the ubiquitous arroz Brasileiro: basmati rice toasted in oil then slow-simmered with refogado, a puree of garlic and onions. If you don’t have the refogado mix, don’t worry about it: finely minced garlic and onions will work just as well. The only thing left is olive oil and white rice–doesn’t get much cheaper than that!

Steakhouse Garlic Mashed Potatoes

a bowl of garlic mashed potatoes

If you’d rather stick with potatoes for your starch fix, we totally understand. Mashed potatoes are a classic and easy side dish for ham for a reason: they are inexpensive, filling, and so delicious. They are basically comfort food at its finest. You simply can’t go wrong by punching up the flavor with a little (or a lot) of garlic, like we do in our steakhouse inspired mashed potato recipe

Burgundy Mushrooms

burgundy mushrooms in a black castiron skillet

Here’s another cheap and easy side dish for ham this holiday. Our take on Burgundy mushrooms slowly simmers them in red wine, stock, garlic, Dijon mustard, and fresh herbs. The sauce alone is delicious, especially spooned over those garlic mashed potatoes we mentioned. 

Caramelized Leeks

braised leeks in a pan

Leeks don’t often make it to the holiday table as a stand-alone side dish, and we think that’s rather tragic. When prepared with the right ingredients, they become buttery, caramelized, and absolutely delicious. In our braised leeks recipe, we take the sweetness up a notch with a balsamic reduction. Heap some on top of your slice of ham so you can have some with every bite. 

Christmas Dinner Catered

If all else fails, you can always host the perfect holiday meal with Texas de Brazil’s takeout options. Right now, you can pre-order our Beef Ribs Holiday Feast: fall-of-the-bone ribs served with your choice of two side dishes, a mess of Brazilian cheese bread, and zesty chimichurri sauce for dipping. The kit feeds 6-8 people and comes hot and ready to eat. Order yours for pick up on 12/24, 12/25, and 12/31 between the hours of 1pm and 5pm. 

Spiked Eggnog (Licor de Ovos)

two glasses of eggnog garnished with cinnamon sticks

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Ah, eggnog: you either love it or you hate it. It is sweet, spiced, creamy, and, well, eggy. For many, the holiday season isn’t complete without a chilled glass of this unusual concoction. We certainly don’t mind a sip or two, especially when spiked with aged cachaca. Keep reading for a little eggnog trivia and our spiked eggnog recipe (or just jump to the recipe, you won’t hurt our feelings). 

Where Does Eggnog Come From?

Most historians agree that the roots of eggnog can be traced back to medieval Britain, where a beverage known as “posset” was popular. Posset was made with milk curdled with wine or beer and often flavored with spices. It was meant to be drunk hot and often used as a treatment for cold and flu. 

Eggs and egg yolks were incorporated into posset by at least the 13th century. Monks were known to consume a version that included both eggs, wine, and figs. The wealthy elite adopted this custom and added a bit of sherry, which was more expensive at the time. Posset soon became a symbol of good health and prosperity. 

Posset was not called “eggnog” until the 17th century, when the drink made its way to the American Colonies. Sherry and wine were exchanged for rum, which was plentiful and cheap. Heaps of sugar were also added to the already-rich drink. George Washington himself had a recipe for eggnog that called for “one dozen tablespoons of sugar.” That might explain the unfortunate teeth situation. The first president’s recipe also had rum, rye whiskey, and sherry. Small wonder he forgot to specify how many eggs to use. 

Why is Eggnog Called Eggnog?

The egg part is obvious, but where did the “nog” come from in eggnog? We’ll never know for sure, but many historians posit (that’s a pun) that the term comes from “noggin,” a Gaelic word for a wooden cup. 

Why Do We Drink Eggnog at Christmas?

From its early iterations as posset to the time it was drunk in the colonies, eggnog ingredients were considered a luxury. It was thought that toasting a beverage with expensive eggs, cream, sugar, alcohol, and spices would usher in prosperity for the new year. Eggnog is also high in calories, which may have been beneficial to those with otherwise meager holiday rations. 

Today, eggnog is less about prosperity and more about festivity. We tend to give ourselves a pass at Christmas to indulge a bit, and eggnog fits the bill: it is creamy, decadent, and a little bit naughty with all those calories. 

Do Brazilians Drink Eggnog?

Yes! Eggnog is called “licor de ovos” in Brazil and is made in much the same way as American eggnog. The main difference is the liquor. Brazilians, of course, use cachaca in their eggnog in place of rum. Nutmeg is also not typically used in licor de ovo, which is flavored with pure vanilla extract instead. 

Licor de ovo is especially popular in Minas Gerais and other southern regions of Brazil, where it can get quite chilly in the Autumn and Winter months. This means it is not necessarily consumed as a holiday beverage, since Brazilian autumn begins in March. 

What is In Eggnog?

Eggs: the star ingredient, eggs provide the rich and velvety texture to eggnog. Raw eggs were historically used, but most modern recipes heat the eggs to a safe temperature before chilling.

Dairy: whole milk and heavy cream contribute to the luscious creaminess of eggnog. Some recipes may use a combination of milk and cream to balance the richness.

Sweeteners: sugar is a crucial component to sweeten the eggnog, providing a counterbalance to the richness of the eggs and dairy. Some variations might also include sweetened condensed milk or even maple syrup.

Flavorings: nutmeg is the traditional spice that gives eggnog its distinctive flavor. Other spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and cloves may also be added for complexity.

Spirits: the addition of alcoholic spirits, such as rum, cachaca, brandy, whiskey, or bourbon, is optional but adds warmth and depth to the flavor profile. Non-alcoholic versions are also popular, ensuring that everyone can enjoy this festive beverage.

What Does Eggnog Taste Like?

Eggnog is a harmonious blend of sweet, creamy, and warmly spiced flavors. The texture is velvety and thick, almost syrupy but not sticky. It is not dissimilar to a glass of melted ice cream spiced heavily with nutmeg, which gives it a distinctly peppery flavor. 

Homemade Eggnog Recipe (Licor de Ovos)

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks
½  cup white sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 oz aged cachaca or spiced rum

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the egg yolks, then add the sugar and mix until light and frothy. 
  2. Heat the milk, cream, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a saucepan over medium high heat.
  3. Temper the egg mixture: when the cream mixture reaches a simmer, add about 2 tablespoons to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Repeat this process until most of the cream mixture has been added to the egg mixture, then return everything to the saucepan.
  4. Whisk constantly over medium high heat for a few more minutes. Check the temperature with a thermometer: it should be 160 degrees fahrenheit or higher. 
  5. Remove the mixture from the heat and add your vanilla extract and cachaca. 
  6. Chill thoroughly, then serve in glass cups with a cinnamon stick and freshly grated nutmeg. 

Spend the Holidays with Us

Texas de Brazil is a unique and delicious fine dining destination during the holidays and all year round. Visit one of our 50+ locations this year to treat  your loved ones to a truly special meal. Also, be sure to take advantage of our current Texas de Brazil gift card deals–perfect to add to a stocking or a christmas gift basket. 

 

Honeynut Squash Recipe

A bowl of bright orange honeynut squash soup on a white plate.

Creamy Honeynut Squash Soup (Sopa de abobara)

Honeynut squash are some of the lesser known winter squashes, but we are here to change that! As their name suggests, they are exceptionally sweet, and their skin has a beautiful amber hue. Unsurprisingly, they lend themselves to a number of recipes, savory and sweet. Today’s honeynut squash recipe is for a spicy, creamy soup: perfect for a cold winter evening. 

Honeynut Squash vs Butternut Squash

Honeynut squash are actually a hybrid between butternut squash and buttercup squash. They were an experiment by a professor at Cornell University in the 1980s, and cultivars didn’t appear in US markets until 2015. 

Honeynut squash have the appearance of mini butternut squash but with a deeper orange color (they have about three times the level of beta carotene). They are also sweeter than either a butternut squash or a buttercup squash, and their thin skin is edible. 

The average-sized honeynut squash is about 4 inches long and between 2.5 and 4 inches wide, so you need more of them for a recipe than larger varieties of winter squash. 

a stack of green buttercup squash a stack of butternut squasha stack of orange honeynut squash

Buttercup squash (top) plus butternut squash (center) equals honeynut squash (bottom).

Honeynut Squash in Brazilian Recipes

Pumpkin dishes are quite prevalent in Brazil, especially since they can be grown year round. Quibebe, for example, is a savory pumpkin stew that slow-simmers big bites of butternut squash. And Christmas tables in Brazil are often adorned with a beautiful camarao na moranga: a roasted cinderella pumpkin stuffed with a creamy shrimp soup.

Again, honeynut squash are not particularly well-known. Most Brazilian recipes call for either butternut squash or the moranga (which we know in the US as a Cinderella pumpkin or pink pumpkin) or the abobora, which is butternut squash. While there is no substituting the moranga for your stuffed shrimp recipe, you can easily use the honeynut squash in place of butternut squash in most recipes. You will just need more of them.

Where to Buy Honeynut Squash

There are a few large grocery chains that carry honeynut squash this time of year. You can find them at Costco, Wholefoods, and Trader Joes. They are also often found at farmer’s markets, but it’s a little late in the year for those. 

You could also try growing your own honeynut squash from seeds! The process is much the same as any other winter squash: plant them indoors in March, then harden them off outdoors after the last frost. Transplant seedlings to soil in May. You can also directly sow the seeds in May and June as well. 

How to Cook Honeynut Squash

Like other winter squash, honeynut squash can be roasted, stewed, boiled, sauteed, and pureed. For this soup recipe, we highly recommend roasting the squash. It is very easy to do and it truly brings out the sweet nuttiness of the squash. 

To roast honeynut squash, remove the stems at the top of each gourd. Then cut each squash lengthways in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits in the middle with a metal spoon. Put each squash skin-side up on a lined baking tray. Roast them at 425 degrees fahrenheit for around 30 minutes until they are soft and you can see the sugars begin to caramelize. It will smell heavenly and the skins will wrinkle a bit. If you can easily pierce the skins with a fork, you should be good to go.

Let the squash cool and then scoop out the flesh into a bowl for later use. We won’t use the skins in this recipe, but you can certainly eat them if you want. 

Honeynut Squash Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

Two cups of roasted honeynut squash (about three squashes), mashed to a pulp
One red bell pepper, diced
Half of one yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 tsp of salt (more to taste)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a saucepan over medium high heat. Add in a drizzle of olive oil, and sautee the bell pepper and yellow onion for two minutes, or until they start to soften. 
  2. Add in the garlic and stir for 30 seconds or so, just until you can smell it. 
  3. Pour in the vegetable stock and add in the salt, cayenne, cinnamon, and a few twits of freshly ground black pepper. 
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer for fifteen minutes. 
  5. Stir in the honeynut squash mash and let the mixture heat up again to a rolling simmer (5 minutes)
  6. Remove the mixture from the heat and blend with an immersion blender until very smooth. Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into a stand blender, then return it to the pot and heat through once more. 

What to Eat with Honeynut Squash Soup

Enjoy your soup piping hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a big piece of crusty french bread for dunking. It also makes a great starter for a holiday or anniversary dinner. Follow it with a main dish of churrasco steak and a dessert course of passionfruit mousse and espresso. Perfeito!

Take Advantage of Texas de Brazil’s Gift Card Bonuses

For a limited time, Texas de Brazil is rewarding gift card purchases with bonus cards. For every $100 you spend on gift cards, you will receive a $25 bonus card; and for every $50, you will earn a $10 card. They make an ideal stocking stuffer or Christmas gift basket addition. Visit our online store to learn more.

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  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!

 

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