Monday, November 28, 2011

RECIPE - Sun-dried Beef Fritters (Bolinho de Carne de Sol)

Last week, when we began this short series of posts about the Brazilian snack food called bolinhos, one of our readers asked for a recipe for bolinhos with carne de sol. Carne de sol is Brazil's salted and semi-dried beef, known throughout the country and whose roots can be traced back to the early European settlers and their need to preserve meat in a hot climate in the absence of refrigeration. (Click here for more about carne de sol.)

This recipe, like the one posted last Saturday, uses manioc for the carbohydrate portion of the bolinho. In the earlier recipe the balls were stuffed with cubes of mozzarella cheese. In this recipe, in response to our reader's request, the filling is made from carne de sol.

Carne de sol is a product that is uniquely Brazilian and there really isn't much of an export market for it. However, it's easy to make a pretty-good imitation of carne de sol at home. Click here for a link to an earlier article on Flavors of Brazil that will tell you how.

You'll need fresh manioc root for this recipe. It can be found in many Latin American and African food stores.  It's variously called manioc, cassava, yuca, aipim or macaxeira depending on the ethnic community the store caters too.
RECIPE - Sun-dried Meat Fritters (Bolinho de Carne de Sol)
Makes 30 bolinhos

2.2 lbs (1 kg) carne de sol, cooked
2.2 lbs (1 kg) fresh manioc roots, peeled, mashed and cooled
2.5 cups (300 gr) all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, large stems removed
2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
neutral vegetable oil for frying
Prepare the carne de sol by desalting it if commercially bought. If homemode, desalting is not required. Grill, fry or simmer the meat until it is cooked through, then cool. Once cool, shred the meat using two forks, or roughly chop with a knife. Reserve.

In a heavy-duty frying pan heat the olive oil, then fry the onion and garlic until the onion is transparent but not browned. Add the shredded carne de sol and heat through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. There is salt in the carne de sol so be careful not to over-salt. Remove from heat, mix in the fresh cilantro and reserve.

Put the mashed manioc in a large bowl. Add the two eggs then the flour by handfuls, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Finally mix in the reserved carne de sol mixture and combine completely.

Using your hands or two spoon form the mixture into approximately 30 small balls, placing completed balls on a cool working surface or cookie sheets.

Heat the cooking oil in a deep-fryer, according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the balls, a few at a time to avoid overcrowding, and cook until they are browned and crispy on the outside. Drain on paper towels while cooking the rest of the balls in batches.

Serve immediately, accompanied by a dipping sauce if desired.


  1. Hi Danielle, I *know* James will give you a far better answer, but in the meantime... I think there is a difference between carne seca and carne de sol (though they are both essentially partially dried, salted beef. Anyway, I was experimenting with carne seca recently and found instructions which advised soaking in water for an hour, then changing the water and repeating at twice (so 3 times in total). I will happily bow to James' authority on this though - every time I attempt carne seca is tastes nice but is *very* tough a chewy!

    Ah, I found this description of the difference between the two meats:

  2. Thanks, Tom for the information about the difference between the two meats (and for the link that explains it all very clearly.) For those readers of the blog who don't read Portuguese, the gist of the material in the link is that carne seca is much saltier and has much less moisture than carne de sol. Consequently, it must be desalted similarly to salt-cod (bacalhau)and re-hydrated prior to use. Carne de sol, being more moist and with less salt, merely has to be rinsed before using.

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