The Art of Brazilian BBQ (Churrasco)

So I spent the weekend at the Spinelli family beach hideaway in the Riviera de Sao Lourenco in the northern part of the state of Sao Paulo. We’ve been going there for the better part of the last decade and my Pops has been building a new house up there. We’ve had a sweet little 3 bedroom spot for some years now and the outside area looks like this:

At any rate, there’s nothing to top off a day at the beach quite like coming back and having a big bbq, Brazilian style. I’ve gone all out and done a Brazilian bbq in California a couple of times: The ever jolly Dallas Byelery’s 29th bday in Redondo Beach and the France vs. Brazil match from the 2006 World Cup at my old pad in Goleta (let’s not talk about what happened in that match,  but we’ll just say the food stole the show). And lately, i usually make Brazilian style marinaded wings for football game tailgates.  Follow along and i’ll drop some knowledge on the Art of Brazilian bbq (Churrasco):

1) It’s good to have many different cuts of meat:

In this spread, you’ve got 2 different ribeye cuts, linguica (brazilian sausage, not the smoked portuguese one common in america), seasoned chicken wings and the ham shaped roast is Picanha, the most traditional Brazilian cut. I’ve seen it translated into everything from rump roast to top sirloin, but the way its butchered in Brazil is unique. It’s seasoned, like most meats are for Churrasco in rock salt and ONLY rock salt. It locks in the moisture and keeps the meat super juicy and delicious.

2) Make sure you’ve got a legit barbecue with wood coals:

This particular one is a rack stlye cooker. it’s also common to have bricks with holes lining the back wall to accomodate large skewers with a single roast on each one. You’ll see this at a Fogo de Chao anywhere in the US, or at Espetus in SF. Here, you have the linguica and the chicken wings cooking over a hot open flame.

3) One word: Caipirinha. The most traditional Brazilian drink is made with pinga (also called cachaca or aguardente), which is distilled from sugar cane, muddled together with sugar and lime, that’s it. Here’s a saucy little pitcher i whipped up:

Caipirnhas and beer are complementary products. Once you’ve run out of lime or got too lazy to get up and make more, just start slugging beer. It’s awesome.

4) Lots of side dishes:

Here’s my stepmom stirring a mushroom risotto:

She also made farofa, which is made with corn or mandioc flour cooked with oil, bacon, onion, eggs, carrots and anything else you can slip in there. You dip the meat in it, eat it with bread. It’s very versatile and 100% delicious:

I put together my signature vinaigrette: Onions, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano and my special touch, pickled mushrooms:

This stuff helps wash everything down. We eat a lot of bread with churrasco too and topping bread off with the vinaigrette is clutch. Salads and crisp veggies are always a part of the equation as well.

Here’s the spread before the final meat is done:

5) Finally, there is the meat. Here’s the picanha being cooked:

Next, Pops slicing the roast:

And here’s the finished product on my plate after a final brush with rock salt and 30 seconds on the grill:

Looks good, huh? And wait, what’s that? You’re still hungry after all of that? Ok, throw more on:

Not bad, huh? Ok, I made myself hungry re-hashing all of this so i apologize for doing it to you as well.  If you’re wondering , here’s what a real Brazilian (who did absolutely nothing to put this together, but we still love her) thought of the fare:

Until next time, I’ll be on the treadmill.

Spinelli

Playlist:

Passion Pit – Manners

Pavement – Slanted and Enchated

Jorge Ben Jor – Negro e Lindo (Here’s my favorite jam off one of this Brazilian master’s many albums; written about Muhammad Ali)

Metronomy – The English Riviera (if you like Destroyer, you’ll love these guys. This is ‘The Bay’)

Cut Copy – In Ghost Colors

Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost! (I cant stop listening to this)

Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs (Their headlining set at treasure Island really opened my eyes to this fantastic album. This one kills it)

Real Estate – Days

New Order – Ceremony (My Dad loves this and so do I…Here’s a classic)

Caribou – Swim

Hot Chip – Made in the Dark

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Brazilian BBQ (Churrasco)”

  1. It’s my birthday again in a week, you better get me something good since you’re not going to be in town to BBQ again in celebration of my jolly nature. Give my best to papa Joe!

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