Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday churrasco - Part 1 PORK RIBS

This weekend is a long weekend in Brazil - Monday, November 02 is the holiday called Dia dos Finados. The name means "Day of the Dead" and it's the same holiday that's celebrated in Mexico as Dia de los Muertos (although without the laughing skeleton cookies etc.). On Dia dos Finados many families visit the tombs or graves of departed family members to celebrate their remembrance. There's a strong family-bond connection to the whole weekend. Yesterday, Saturday, I was invited to a poolside BBQ (churrasco) at the home of a good friend, Fátima Dantas Lima. There were grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, children and grandkids. There was beer and soft drinks. And there was meat, lots of it!

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.


  1. The cruelty! Reading this before I've eaten today, looking at that delectibly salted piece of beef- as if I weren't already jealous enough of your mild weather, and now this, this salty feast. The sweet life indeed- bravo, great post.

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