Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beef - Brazilian Cuts

One of the more daunting tasks for me has been purchasing beef from the deli. I'm familiar with certain cuts because I could order them from our little Brazilian grocery in the States. But I'm not familiar with all the cuts, and beef in general has always been a bit of a struggle for me. Give me chicken and I'm a Top Chef champion. Give me pork and I can make a couple tasty dishes. Give me beef and I'm lost. 

( Image released to public domain, but credit goes to Wikipedia contributor: Ysangkok )

( By MarioM - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, )

Acem is a cut that I purchase often, because it's fairly cheap. I can normally find it for about R$15.90/kilo. It's also what I choose when I order carne moida (ground beef).

Alcatra is a popular steak for barbecuing and it's similar to a top/bottom sirloin. Throw some rock salt on it and let it rotate over fire on a spit. Cut off the outside pieces as the cook through and you've got yourself some Grade-A Brazilian steaks.

Contrafile is similar to a tenderloin, but admittedly I've never purchased it.

File Mignon is also part of the tenderloin/sirloin area.

Fraldinha is a confluence of short loin, flank, and bottom sirloin.

Maminha is the bottom sirloin or flank cuts.

Paleta is a chuck/brisket cut, so this cut is more for roasting or using in a stew.

Picanha is an especially delicious section of meat, similar to a rump cover or rump cap. It's grilled the same was as Alcatra - covered in rock salt, maybe some spices, rotated over a fire, and cooked pieces are cut off. It's quite expensive here in Brazil, as it's normally around R$50/kilo. We did find a sale during Carnaval that priced it at $R20/kilo. We bought seven kilos and had a three-day-long barbecue with all of our friends. Zero regrets.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Grocery Store Bakery

One of the things Brazil does oh-so-right is fresh baked rolls. A typical Brazilian breakfast and afternoon snack is coffee and bread. So Brazil took the idea and ran with it. You can find a million variations of bread at any of a dozen bakeries on one block. Coconut bread, sweet bread, cinnamon bread, bread with a sweet swirl in it and topped with a cherry, french bread, whatever. Personally, I'm addicted to the boring old french bread rolls aka pão francês or pão de sal (french bread / salt bread), which I snatch up the minute the stores open in the morning. I prefer the slightly burnt rolls, which have the most satisfying crunch to them. Sidenote: my father-in-law was a baker, so my husband is a defacto bread expert - by his own admission. If there was ever a bread making competition, I'm sure my husband would demand to be the head judge.

Another thing you can find at the bakeries are, wait for it, baked goods! I haven't tried many of these desserts and snacks because honestly, I find most bakery items to be too sugary for my taste. I would feel more than comfortable betting on every one of these items containing a massive amount of leite condensado. And if you've never had leite condensado, let me tell you, it's fucking sweet. Dentists should give out cans of it instead of stickers, that way they can skip fillings and go right to the more expensive crowns. Cha-ching! But seriously, we've bought those "donuts" before and they're basically hard breads covered in chocolate and filled with leite condensado. Um, I'm happy not having to monitor my blood sugar levels every day... thanks. The little chocolate balls covered in chocolate sprinkles though? Those are called brigadeiros (translation: brigadier). They're made with leite condensado (HAHA, who would have guessed?) and chocolate and are more or less balls of fudge rolled in sprinkles. They're also tiny, about the size of the tip of your thumb. So brigadeiros and I are on very friendly terms.

One day when I'm feeling especially rich and masochistic, I'll buy one of everything and review them here. I might have to bring some friends over to help, because there's no way I can consume all of that by myself. But that day is not today, so stay tuned!