Brazilian Barbecue History
More than 400 years ago cattle ranching was introduced to the Rio Grande do Sul region of Brazil. Cowboys, called Gauchos herded these cattle, and like the cowboys of Texas created a new style of cooking. They called it Churrasco, which is Brazilian Barbecue. This style of Barbecue wasn’t based on smoke like that of the United States, But it has all the traditions and elements of an American Barbecue. Churrasco started in the 16th and 17th centuries. It then spread throughout all of Brazil in the 1940’s as the Gauchos spread across the country.
Originally the standard formula for Brazilian style barbecue was to coat meats in coarse salt. The meat then sits for about 30 minutes to absorb the salt and then they place it over the fire. Later they used a salt-water baste to keep meats moist during the cooking. They typically never seasoned Beef. Poultry and lamb, however, are a different story. They spice them with a rich marinade the night before cooking. Then they place thier meats on long sword-like skewers and they cook it over an open fire. Nowadays, however, with the growing popularity of this style of grilling you can even buy a churasco grill.
Churrasco is a way of life..
Churrasco is much more than a way of cooking in Rio Grande do Sul it’s a way of life. The Barbecue capital of Brazil is the city of Nova Brescia which has a statue of a man cooking barbecue in the central plaza. In the 1940’s this city had a population of about 150,000. Since then the population has dropped to about 30,000 due to the mass exodus of people leaving to open Barbecue restaurants across Brazil.
The popularity of Brazilian Barbecue has lead to the founding of dozens of restaurants, popping up all over the world. If you get the chance I whole-heartedly recommend that you give one a try. On the menu you will usually find prime rib, linguica (a Portuguese sausage), lamb kebabs, chicken legs, fish and a whole host of other dishes.
They cook all the meat on long skewers, and place them on racks over the fire. They then place the fattier items ontop, so that juices drip down and flavor the other cuts. When the meats are cooked waiters carry the skewers around table to table carving off pieces onto your plate. Without moving from your table you can experience virtually unlimited dishes until your stomach fails you and it’s time to lumber home. This is truly a great dining experience.
You can experience this at home. Kebabs are one of the easiest things to grill. And since the tradition is to place only one kind of meat on each skewer the problem of different cooking times is no longer exists. The next time you have an army over try a good Brazilian Barbecue.