Flavors of Brazil, I let a 19th Century English author, Henry Koster, describe the dinner he was served in the great house of a sugar plantation in northeastern Brazil sometime in the early part of that century. I commented that the dinner was not that different from what one often finds on the plate in today's Brazil - carne de sol and pirão.
For a lark, I googled recipes looking for exactly this meal, and on one of Brazil's most contemporary websites - Mais Você - I located a recipe for the dinner that Koster was served. The website belongs to a very popular TV show in Brazil - a morning show about cooking, celebrity interviews, heartwarming stories of ordinary Brazilians, sort of a combination of Oprah and Martha Stewart. It's been on the air forever, and its host, Ana Maria Braga, is one of the most recognizable media celebrities in the country. If something's featured on Mais Você then it matters to Brazilians, particularly Brazilian women.
So here is Mais Você 's 21st Century version of that dinner that was served nearly 200 years ago in the great house of a sugar plantation to Henry Koster.
Carne de Sol com Pirao de Leite
2 lbs (1 kg) carne de sol (click here for instructions on how to make your own)
4 cups (1 litre) whole milk
1 cup clarified butter
1 large onion, sliced
2 cups (500 ml) manioc flour (farinha)
salt to taste
Desalt the meat in the refrigerator, in several changes of cold water, for at least 6 hours. In a large heavy saucepan with a lid, bring the milk slowly to the boil, then add the meat, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the meat is tender, about one hour. Remove the meat from the milk, reserving both.
In a medium saucepan, heat the clarified butter, then add the sliced onions. Fry until the onions until they are lightly golden, the remove them, reserve. Add the reserved meat to the butter and fry until the meat develops a nice crust. Remove the meat, reserving the meat and the butter.
Off heat, mix together the butter used for frying and the reserved milk. Bring them to the boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, then add the manioc flour in small quantities, stirring and mixing each addition before adding another. When it reaches the stage of a loose, moist paste, stop adding flour. Season for salt.
Pour the manioc flour mixture into a large serving bowl, cut the meat into serving-size pieces and put it on a platter, then cover with the reserved onions. Pass both for family-style serving.
Recipe translated and adapted from Mais Você Culinária.