Friday, August 10, 2012

Cooking with Cachaça - A Few Inventive Recipes

There's more to Brazil's national liquor cachaça than hard-core shots and tropical caipirinhas. At least according to some innovative restaurants in Rio de Janeiro there is. Rather than only offering cachaça as a cocktail or digestive, chefs in Brazil's capital of tourism are taking another look at it - wondering how it might be properly used in the creation of new recipes.

Cachaça-seasoned fresh ham at Bar Bracarense
A recent article in Rio's major newspaper, O Globo, highlighted some of the inventive ways chefs are putting cachaça to use. A restaurant called Bar Bracarense, located in the tony Leblon neighborhood, offers the most spectacular cachaça-infused dish in Rio. Bar Bracarence uses aged cachaça to season a whole fresh ham, adding the smoky flavors that result from barrel-aging cachaça to the huge joint of meat. The ham is only made to order as it weighs 8 kgs (almost 20 lbs) and serves 10-15 diners. But it has proved a hit with regular patrons of the restaurant, which charges R$300 (approx. USD $150) to prepare it.

A Quinta da Boa Vista, another long-established Rio restaurant, takes advantage of the way cachaça combines with tropical fruits in a dish called Camarão Dom Pedro, named in homage to Brazil's first emperor. The dish consists of cachaça-marinated shrimps, sauteed and served in a half pineapple, served with rice accented with raisins. An Italian restaurant in Rio, Spaghetteria, adds a cachaça twist to the Italian classic Spaghetti Arrabiata by topping the pasta with two or three sauteed fresh sardines that have been flamed in cachaça .

It's not just in main courses, though, where cachaça is being put to good use in Rio these days. At Aconchego Carioca, a typical boteco-style bar, diners can choose a cachaça flavored tapioca pudding to end their meal, and at Mangue Seco they flambee bananas in cachaça then serve them hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

As cachaça makes its move from behind the bar to kitchen shelves in restaurants not just in Rio de Janeiro but around Brazil, this list of recipes with cachaça will continue to grow. It's all part of the ongoing evolution of cachaça , just as is the current boom in aged, artisanally produced cachaça , which are rapidly becoming the drink of choice of sophisticated Brazilian connaisseurs.


  1. Don't forget "calabresa na cachaca" which has been a long-time bar favorite.

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