Thursday, May 26, 2011

RECIPE - Rooster's Head (Cabeça do Galo)

No, this isn't a recipe for a real rooster's head, we promise! There are no beaks, eyes or combs anywhere in the ingredient list, and this is not one of those strange-verging-on-disgusting ethnic foods that are the mainstay of TV shows such as Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, or Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods. The Brazilian dish cabeça do galo can be translated into English as rooster's head, but there isn't a gram of animal meat in it.

Cabeça do galo is rather a  thick and nourishing manioc flour (farinha) soup, made richer with the addition of whole eggs. It is known in Brazil as a restorative food, as soups everywhere are known , but it's particular claim to fame is as a hangover cure. In most cultures where drinking alcohol is encouraged, permitted or even just tolerated there are foods that are thought to alleviate the pain of excess alcohol consumption if not to cure it. University students in the USA often swear by left-over pizza, and McDonald's Egg McMuffins are touted as a wonder cure by many. Mexican indulge in a tripe stew called menudo in the attempt to clear their head, while the Dutch tip their heads back to swallow raw baby herring covered in onions. In Brazil, after a night of too many caipirinhas, or too much cerveja, the way to get back on the road to sobriety is with a bowl of cabeça do galo.

The thing about cabeça do galo, though, is that it isn't only suitable for curing hangovers (unlike day-old congealed pizza slices, or Egg McMuffins). It's a perfect main-course soup for a cool evening, accompanied by a green salad. Satisfying without being overly rich, it hits the spot.

For this recipe you'll need manioc flour, called farinha in Portuguese. In most metropolitan areas, and in areas with a significant Latin American population, you can find it in Brazilian or Latin markets. Look for the name farinha de mandioca on the bag.
RECIPE - Rooster's Head (Cabeça do Galo)
Serves 4

5 Tbsp. neutral vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups (1 liter) boiling water
1 Tbsp. powdered annatto (sweet paprika can be substituted)
3 large whole eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (125 ml) manioc flour (farinha de mandioca)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
a few whole cilantro leaves for garnish
En a large saucepan, heat the oil then add the onion. Cook until the onion just begins to brown, then add the garlic, chopped tomato and and green pepper and cook, stirring regularly, for five more minutes. Season for salt, then add the black pepper to taste, the annatto or paprika  and the cilantro while continuing to stir. Finally, stir in the beaten eggs.

Remove the pan from the heat, then immediately pour the boiling water over the ingredients. Stirring constantly, add the manioc flour in a thin steady stream. When the manioc flour has been thorough mixed in, return the pan to the heat for about 5 minutes, or until it just begins to boil.

Serve immediately in deep bowls, decorated with a few whole cilantro leaves.

Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brazileira by Abril Editora.

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