Wednesday, July 4, 2012

RECIPE - Drayman's/Maria-Isabel's Rice (Arroz de Carreteiro/Maria-Isabel)

We'll leave it up to the cook how he or she wants to baptize this dish when presenting it at the dinner table or on the buffet. As mentioned in yesterday's post on Flavors of Brazil, in the south of Brazil the dish has one name and in the northeast an entirely different one. The choice is yours. Either name, though, will yield the same delicious result.

More than a traditional side dish (because of the presence of the dried/salted meat) and less than a main course, arroz de carreteiro/arroz Maria-Isabel is nonetheless considered to be a side dish in Brazil, where meals tend to be large and dependent on abundant quantities of protein. If you want to serve it Brazilian style but don't want overkill, it pairs well with a small, thin grilled steak of any kind and a green salad.

The dish requires carne de sol, which is Brazil's traditional salt-preserved beef. It's available in butcher shops and supermarkets everywhere in Brazil, but normally not outside the country. Click here for an earlier article on Flavors of Brazil on how to make a good version of carne de sol in your freezer.

This recipe is for a very traditional, basic dish - very similar to how it might have originally been served. Some modern versions add sausage, other meats and additional seasonings, but this recipe is the stripped-down original.
RECIPE - Drayman's/Maria-Isabel's Rice (Arroz de Carreteiro/Maria-Isabel)
Serves 6

2 lbs (1 kg) carne de sol (or charque)
4 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil
2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves, garlic
2 cups long-grain white rice
boiling water
3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

24 hours befor cooking, cut the meat into small cubes, place in a bowl or ban, cover with cold water at soak in the refrigerator, changing the water at least 3 or 4 times, to desalt the meat. When ready to cook, drain and reserve.

In a heavy deep pan, heat the oil, and then fry the onion and garlic until the onion just begins to brown. Add the meat and continue to cook, stirring very frequently, until the meat is nicely browned.

Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring regularly, until all the rice is coated with the oil and is turning transparent. Pour in boiling water to cover the rice and to reach two fingers' height above the top of the rice. Reduce heat, tightly cover the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the water and is tender. This dish shouldn't be too dry, so if it seems to be so, add a small amount of water at the end of the cooking process, just enough to moisten the grains. Remove from the heat and let stand for ten minutes before serving.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.


  1. Hi James,
    I'm Silvania, from Brazil. I'll be traveling to Canada on January 4th to Pictou County. I'll take 9 students to study at an Elemntary School and we'll spend 25 days. We'll present a project that talks about our Brazilian culinary, especifically from Maranhão. The dish we chose was Maria Isabel rice. The point is, I think thar in Canada doesn't have any "carne seca" or "carne de sol".Can I use "jerked beef" instead?

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