Another week, another scrumptious style of barbecue. For this one, we’re heading south and aren’t stopping until we see crazed soccer/football fans lined up a month in advance for the 2014 World Cup. You’ve guessed it: Brazil! The land known for its coffee, rainforests and (excuse our Portuguese) some pretty kickass barbecue.
Once upon a time Brazilian cowboys, otherwise known as gauchos, worked on cattle ranches in southern Brazil. After long days of work, these gauchos would skewer beef, rub it with salt and cook it over an open fire. Ta da! Churrasco was born. This delicious and seemingly simplistic form of cooking spread throughout the country like wildfire and by the 1940s had expanded to include a larger variety of meats and cuts.
The Bigger the Better
Visit a Brazilian steakhouse today and chances are a rope-wielding, cowboy hat-wearing gaucho won’t be serving you. (But how fun would that be?) Servers at these churrascarias walk around carrying long skewers of meat with different cuts and types – sometimes as many as 20 in larger restaurants! In a reverse/lazy man buffet-like fashion (one where you stay seated and the food walks around the table to you), you can point and pick exactly what you’d like (if only everything were that easy).
For the most popular of the churrascaria meats, opt for the picanha, or rump cut. Cut thinly and served with rice and beans, this is Brazilian barbecue at its most traditional. Craving something a bit more lean and tender? Baby beef (pronounce it like bebe beefey) is pricey and comes from the tenderloin of younger cows. And if you’ve got beef with beef, go for the lombo, or pork loin. Because beef is king in the land of Brazilian barbecue, only the highest quality cuts of other meats make it to the dining room floor. Preparing it at home? CNN.com recommends slathering your lombo with a customary (and extremely awesome tasting) Parmesan cheese sauce.
If the thought of Brazilian BBQ has you drooling (And how could it not?), pull that cowboy costume out of storage and turn your backyard into the best churrascaria on the block. Your Memphis’s wood pellet smoke is sure to add a traditional touch and flavor to this picanha recipe other grills (and all your neighbors) will envy.