Brazilian Cooking Made Easy
Churasco at your dinner party
In the extravagant Brazilian restaurants that serve churasco, brightly-outfitted gauchos armed with long skewers of meat provide guests with all of the perfectly-roasted meats they can possibly eat. Paired with a good bottle of wine and a fresh salad bar, churasco becomes a mouth-wateringly memorable meal!
To recreate this at home, all you need is three elements: wine, salad and meat. Turning your home into a psuedo-churascarria for a dinner party is also easier than you may think.
Phase one of the churasco game plan is getting the right wine -- usually, one or two bottles each of red and white will more than suffice. The good news is that you can outsource this job entirely: simply go to your local bottle shop, tell the wine expert you are serving red meat, and ask for their recommendations. There's no need to spend more than $15 per bottle, since everyone will remember the meat, not the wine.
The typical salad selections should include lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese, Caesar salad dressing, sweet mustard-based potato salad, red apples, asparagus, proscuitto and lemon juice.
The best way to accomplish your salad offerings is by outsourcing some of the work and doing some of the work yourself. The salad bar will ultimately consist of three items: Caesar salad, apple-potato salad, and blanched asparagus.
If you have a reputable local deli that makes outstanding Caesar salads, then simply purchase your salad right before the party! For the apple-potato salad, buy a deli potato salad and add chopped apples roughly two hours before serving.
For the asparagus salad there are no short cuts, but it's a fairly easy dish to make.?To blanch the asparagus, bring some salted water to a boil. Prepare the asparagus by cutting off the last inch of the stalk and boil the stalks for 3-4 minutes. Immediately transfer the asparagus to an ice bath to halt the cooking process once you remove them from the boil. After a minute or two, remove them from the cold water, sprinkle with a little lemon juice and put the asparagus in the refrigerator. When the guests arrive, serve the asparagus with proscuitto and aioli.
To serve your guests the star main course, buy around 125g of flank steak and top sirloin per person, along with one ribeye for every two people, and one fillet per person. These cuts of meat are full of flavour and can be cooked in about the same amount of time; just be sure to buy cuts of roughly the same thickness.
How to make churasco
Juicy, succulent meat is the most important component of your meal, and this can easily be achieved with a combination of stove-top and oven cooking.
- Season your meat by sprinkling both sides of the meat with salt and pepper, and letting it rest at room temperature for around 30 minutes. While the meat is resting, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
- Put some flavour-neutral canola oil into two large oven-proof fry pans over high heat. Let the fry pans and the oil get very hot and place one fillet in one pan and one ribeye in the other. Cook the meat for 3-4 minutes per side, and then put both fry pans in the oven, cooking until you reach the desired level of cooking. Be careful not to let the meat cook in the oven for more than 8 minutes, or it may become tough.
- Put two more large fry pans on the stove over high heat and add oil as the pans get very hot. Add the flank steak to one pan and the sirloin to the other. Cook both meats 4-5 minutes per side, or until your desired doneness.
- Let all of the meat rest for five minutes before serving.
Serve your Brazilian feast
Once the meat is ready, all you need to do is ready the wine and serve the salads! For the true churascarria experience, you can skewer the meat and walk each piece around the table, carving slices for your guests. Or, you can simply pre-slice the meal in the kitchen and place into heaped bowls for guests to serve themselves; it depends how theatrical you're feeling!