You know when you discover a new style of cooking and you can’t get enough? That’s been me and Brazilian barbecue this summer. I’ve been scouring the internet looking for traditional Brazilian recipes and thought, why not go back to Fogo de Chão Pittsburgh and ask the gauchos and mixologists!
I learned so much about how to prepare a successful Brazilian barbecue at home from Nic, the restaurant’s head honcho, and am happy to share these simple tips with you.
Mind the Flame.
Yes, preparation, butchering, and seasoning is very important when it comes to successful grilling, but the flame and temperature is the most important. While Fogo de Chão restaurants’ grill get up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, a 450-500 degree at home grill is essential.
Sear the Crust.
Never break or slice the outer crust. Slicing the meat will eliminate the natural juices, so avoid it like an ex. The best way to do that is by searing the meat then moving it away from the flame to a cooler grill area to get the meat to the proper temperature. The cooking process will continue but you’ll avoid burning the meat.
Utilize the Flavor of the True Meat.
Of course, you can get creative with BBQ rubs, salt is just as good for grilling meat – but not just any salt. Look for a coarser grind. By using only sea salt, you’ll enhance the true flavor of the meat. Then, feel free to get creative with sauces and condiments. Chimmichurri and hot sauces enhance the meat and they’re easy make or buy.
Fogo de Chão uses a heavy Brazilian sea salt – and that’s it for its churrasco service.
Use a Meat Thermometer.
This is essential, especially for first-time grillers, when it comes to poultry and pork. With beef, you can have the meat rare and, as long as the cut and quality are good, you’ll have successful grilling.
For red meat, you can do a “touch test” to see how cooked it is. With your pointer finger and thumb wide apart, squeeze. That’s what rare beef should feel like when touched. For well done, red meat will feel like your skin when thumb and pointer fingers are touching.
Get Creative with Side Dishes.
Yes, potato and macaroni salads are staples of barbecue parties, but why not take a cue from Brazilian recipes and to add flair to your dining table? Simples recipes can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
A must for any Brazilian-style barbecue is feijoada. Pronounced fej WA da, it’s black beans stew served over rice. A really good feijoada recipe from AllRecipes is easy and delish. It does take three to four hours to prepare, but if you want to impress your guests, the time is worth it.
My side dish of choice lately has been Fogo de Chão’s Watermelon with Feta. Cut watermelon into bite-sized cubes, chop basil and crumble Feta cheese and sprinkle on top. It’s that easy.
Create a Fun Drink that Everyone Will Love.
In America, barbecue and beer go together like peanut butter and jelly. But, if you really want to up your drink game, consider making a traditional Brazilian nonalcoholic drink – creamy limonada.
I got the scoop on how to make it on my last visit to Fogo de Chão. Using only a handful of ingredients, it’s easy to make ahead of time and keep refrigerated. Here’s the recipe:
- 3 limes, cut into large pieces with the heart removed
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 quart water
Blend in a high-speed blender for 8 to 10 seconds, strain to remove lime pieces, and serve over ice. It’s both sweet and tart – and perfect for hot, summer days.
Of course, if you want a Brazilian liquor drink that’s simple, give the Caipirinha a go:
Disclosure: A very special thanks to the gang at Fogo de Chão Pittsburgh for hosting me and my family. All opinions are my own!