Friday, October 14, 2011

RECIPE - Virado à Paulista

In yesterday's post, which concerned the efforts of an informal group of young chefs to preserve the traditional cuisine of São Paulo, we mentioned that one of that city's councilmen has asked the municipal heritage committee to enshrine a dish called virado à paulista in the roll of São Paulo's intangible patrimony.

Should his efforts be successful, virado à paulista will join a number of traditional festivals, dances, and other foods considered worthy of preservation in the face of global homogenization. To be worthy of such august company you'd think that virado à paulista might be a complicated or extravagant dish. Nothing of the sort - virado à paulista is a common mid-day meal in thousands of downtown and suburban restaurants and lunch bars. It's often served as a restaurant's prato feito (blue-plate special). It's never expensive and sometimes it's downright cheap. But its supporters feel that it is worthy of preservation efforts due to its long history, and also to the emotional attachment that many paulistas have to this dish they've eaten since their childhood.

Basically, virado à paulista is a full-meal plate consisting of white rice, cooked beans, manioc flour, a slice or two of garlic sausage, a thin steak, sauteed kale, a fried plantain and sometimes a fried egg. Nouvelle cuisine this ain't. Satisfying and filling, a virado à paulista is fuel for the whole day - for the body and for the paulista soul.

Although there are innumerable variations on the basic virado à paulista theme, this recipe is a fairly typical rendition. Feel free to modify it as desired - everybody has their own favorite way to make virado à paulista.
RECIPE - Virado à Paulista
1 portion

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 cup cooked dried beans, with their broth (click here for recipe for beans)
1/3 cup farinha (dried, toasted manioc flour)
4 oz. (100 gr) sliced garlic sausage (kielbasa, linguiça or similar)
8 oz. thin beefsteak (round steak or other)
salt to taste
7 leaves kale, destemmed and cut into thin strips
1 ripe plantain, peeled and sliced
cooked white rice
1 fried egg, sunny-side up (optional)
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil, then saute the onion and garlic until transparent and softened but not browned. Add the beans and their broth and heat through. Mix in the manioc flour, adding a bit at a time and mixing each batch in completely before continuing. Reduce heat to very low and cook for about five minutes, or until the manioc flour is softened. Remove from heat and reserve, keeping warm.

In a small frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and fry  the sliced sausage until browned and crispy. Remove the sausage to a small plate and reserve, keeping warm. Season the steak with salt to taste, add the final Tbsp olive oil to the pan in which the sausage was fried and fry the steak to the desired degree of doneness. Reserve the steak, keeping warm. Still using the same frying pan, briefly stir-fry the kale - just until it takes on a brilliant emerald color. Seaon with salt and reserve. Finally, fry the plantain in the same frying pan.

Assemble the plate - put a scoop of white rice and a scoop of the beans on a large deep plate. Place the steak to one side, and top with the sausage slices. Add the kale and banana slices, and if desired, top it all with a fried sunny-side-up egg. Serve immediately.

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