Sunday, November 1, 2009
Rather than being a sit-down meal, the typical Brazilian churrasco is more like a multi-hour-long snacking festival. Meat is grilled in small quantities, and then served in bite-size pieces for nibbling, accompanied only by farinha, a crunchy manioc flour, and vinaigrete, a simple sauce of chopped tomato, onion and green pepper in vinegar.
Often a churrasco will start with one meat, then move on to another, and another, and another. At yesterday's party, the guests were first served pork ribs, then steaks, then spicy sausage.
In Brazil, it's very common to have an outdoor brick barbeque for cooking churrasco. The meat is grilled over natural charcoal. I've not seen briquets nor a propane barbecue since arriving in Brazil. The meat is seasoned only with rock salt and grilled. It's not common to marinade the meat, nor to apply barbeque sauces during cooking.
First up on the menu were two racks of pork back ribs. They were salted, grilled, and served unsauced. The high heat of the charcoal and the quick cooking time insured that much of the fat was rendered, leaving crunchy bits of fat, a equally crunchy crust, and tender and juicy meat inside. Nothing could be simpler, and I'm sure meat has been cooked just like this since the beginning of time. It was superb, and a great start to the party, washed down with icy Brazilian beer (Portuguese: cerveja).
For the main course, check the following post, found here.