As the summer heats up, so do our grills. Being men of the 21st century, we’re not only hungry for new food, but also new tips, new trends, and new techniques. And what better way to do so than by scouring the planet for some of the hottest international grilling styles?
After stopping in Australia and Argentina, the third installment in our World Grillin N’ Chillin series brings us to Brazil – a land that puts a clever spin on barbecuing. Sorry, London. We bypassed you for the 2016 Summer Games host because, well, fish and chips doesn’t exactly grill well.
Contrary to popular belief, life in Brazil is about more than beachside parties and crazy carnival celebrations. In fact, most Brazilians like to take things slow and steady, and, when it comes to barbecues, in particular, they make their meals an all-day affair.
Brazil is the largest country in South America and shares boundaries with every other country on the continent except Chile and Ecuador. The country is deeply influenced by its Portuguese history, which is reflected heavily in its food.
The Brazilian-born owner and head chef of Toronto's Cajú Restaurant, Mario Cassini tells us that Brazilians like to cook their meat on spits. A nice, fatty piece of meat, kept turning in its own juices. “The fat is what’s going to give the meat great flavour,” says Cassini.
Cooking on spits allows people to slowly cook one large piece of meat for hours. Sirloin tip is the ultimate cut, according to Cassini. Best of all, once the outside is cooked, you can start slicing slivers off the meat and then replace it over the grill, so you can pick away at it all day. Different guests with different preferences on doneness can get exactly what they want.
Bringing It Home
In Canada, the rotisserie is more of a specialty item or tool – but that doesn’t mean we leave it out completely. In fact, according to the 23rd Weber Canadian Grill Watch Survey, in terms of accessories, “almost 40 percent of respondents say that they use the side burner and the rotisserie features the most.” That means there’s a good chance you already know the joys of the spit.
As for the type of grill, “Charcoal is a must,” says Cassini. Much like their South American neighbours, the Argentines, Brazilians love the flavour that they get from charcoal grilling.
In Canada, though, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, 91 percent of us opt for the ease of a gas grill instead. For flavour’s sake, maybe it’s time you do like the Brazilians – and, probably, your dad – and break out the bags of charcoal.
And while we baste our barbecued treats with BBQ sauce, the Brazilians tend to use a baste (our American friends would call it a “mop”) of oil, vinegar, wine, garlic, herbs, and hot peppers throughout the cooking process to flavour and tenderize the meat in question. The end result will melt in your mouth.
Grilling Beyond Beef
In addition to beef, Cassini says that Brazilians often grill cuts of pork loin as well as chicken wings – except they cook up the whole wing as one piece, rather than separating the drumette and flat parts.
Pass the Potato Salad
Besides the main affair on the grill, Brazilians and Canadians are digging into similar side dishes. We both love potato salad, and rice dishes reign supreme on the side in Brazil.
For something a little bit different, try cooking cassava, which is a South American tuber (part of the same family as potatoes). Cassini says it’s an essential ingredient for a Brazilian barbecue, as is farofa, which is a toasted manioc flour. Mixed with butter, salt, and the drippings from your meat of choice, this is another simple side dish you’ll want to explore if you’re channeling Brazil.