More than 400 years ago, cattle farming was introduced to the Rio Grande do Sul region of Brazil and the art of churrasco barbeque cooking was born.
The gauchos who looked after the cattle created their own style of cooking on the grill, while spending overnight trips in the outback droving the animals. As the cowboys spread across Brazil during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, so did churrasco.
Most Brazilian homes have a built-in churrasqueira (barbeque grill), either ovens inside the house or outside made of brick or stone, where meat can be cooked for churrasco.
In Australia, we tend to cook only one or two cuts of meat at a time on the hot plate, where Brazilians enjoy cooking a variety of meat all at once.
The likes of Brazilian sausages, steak, lamb, chicken, seafood and even fruit, are all used and cooked over heat on specially designed skewers called espeto. These are long, flat pieces of steel with a spike on one end and a wooden handle on the other, making them easy to turn as the meat cooks over the coals.
Brazilians rarely use gas barbeques, instead opting for hard wood, wood chips and charcoal as fuel, to enhance the flavour of the ingredients they are cooking. If you have a fire barbeque at home, try branching out and experimenting with different types of wood to achieve different flavours in the meat.
Some of the best woods to use are ironbark, apple, oak, manuka, cherry, chestnut, macadamia, black wattle, peach, nectarine and pecan. Once you have chosen your burning material, select your meat cuts and use long metal skewers so it sits safely over the smouldering heat.
Here are three recipes to make your next churrasco feast a fiesta…
For a versatile and succulent barbeque meat recipe, try Brazilian churrasco with three sauces. The meat is left to marinate overnight to absorb the flavours, taking on a punchy persona of Worcestershire sauce, Aleppo pepper, lime and cumin; while side sauces of creamy green chilli aji verde sauce, chimichurri and smoky tomato capsicum salsa are the perfect finishing touch.
A true churrasco isn’t complete without a starter and sides, these scallops with morcilla, pea puree and beetroot jam are sure to kick things off in the right flavour direction; while no meal is finished without authentic Brazilian cheese bread balls, made from gluten-free tapioca flour and two different types of cheese.
A gooey and doughy centre is created during the gently baking process, browning and crisping the outside layer. Served warm, these are the perfect vehicle to soak up any sauce left on your plate from the churrasco.
If we’ve left you inspired to find feistier recipes to recreate at home, click here to bring a taste of Brazil to your kitchen.