If there’s one thing the Brazillians do well is steak. You may wonder why this great nation has seemed to have mastered beef, with Brazilian steakhouses popping up all over our ever changing high streets.
Well, the simple fact that explains why the Brazillians love steak so much, is that year after year they are often the world’s largest exporter of beef.
Since 2008 there have been around 200-225 million cattle in the great country of Brazil, with no signs of slowing down.
As a result they have a lot of beef left as the cattle naturally cycle through their lives, as well as the cattle and bovine reared specifically for their meat.
In any case, we are going to learn from the Brazillians today, so we can bring a bit of Brazil to our plate.
Another country that produces a lot of beef is the US, so get down to your local butcher, buy a nice cut of beef, and join us today as we explore Brazilian steak recipes that can really shake up your appetite and your dinner.
Keep reading to learn more about Brazilian cuisine, steak, and more!
Picanha is an interesting starting point. Picanha actually describes a type of meat, and more of a way to cook a steak, which does ultimately use the cut of beef as the star of the show.
Yet, this is a great base recipe which you can build from, choosing to add your own flavorings or sides as you see fit.
Put simply, a picanha describes a cut of beef from the rump cap muscle, just atop of the rump. It has a very large fat cap which makes it a very flavorful cut.
In a Western butcher you could ask for a top sirloin cap, rump cover, or rump cap.
In Brazilian cooking they often skewer the cut and cook it over an open fire where it absorbs extra flavor from the wood it is cooked over, making it somewhat smoky. Although you could achieve this on a BBQ or smoker.
You would typically season the dish with garlic onion and salt.
Picanha, or the rump cap, is often the cut of meat Brazillians use to make Churrasco, another popular and common steak recipe in Brazil.
Although in this specific recipe they chose to use skirt steak, which you can also use. In effect, Churrasco is sort of like a marinated version of Picanha.
Like Picanha, the skirt steak is skewered and then cooked similarly over an open fire or barbeque. While the meat is resting it is commonly dressed in a marinade, or what Americans may recognize as chimichurri sauce.
The latter traditionally consists of olive oil, onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, with a bunch of spices and herbs. This seeps into the meat and combines with its fat to make something really tasty.
The fatty meat is perfectly balanced by the slightly acidic but rich chimichurri sauce that pairs perfectly with steak.
While cooking with a kebab is generally a more Middle Eastern/European way of cooking meat, it is certainly conducive to cooking on a barbeque or open fire and has been adapted with Brazilian cuisine.
This recipe uses the rump cap again, Picanha, but offers a unique marinade that is typically Brazilian.
Skewering them onto kebabs is another great way to cook them on a barbecue, and also allows you to potentially add some of your favorite veg in there, such as peppers, onions, or whatever you fancy.
The marinade uses orange juice in a unique way that just screams Brazil, South America, and the beach.
The marinade combines orange juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper for something sweet, a little smoky, but ultimately packed with sunny flavors that are common in South America.
We have all probably heard of empanadas before, with Latin expat and citizens forming large communities in America, but the actual regional origin of said dish is still fairly debated.
One argument is that empanadas are likely Asian in origin, with a large amount of immigration from this continent to South America around the second world war, Sao Paulo receiving a notable influx of Japanese immigrants in the period, who likely brought empanadas as their ancestors had.
In any case, these Brazilian empanadas actually differ from the more common Argentinian recipe. Put simply, these Brazilian empanadas are deep fried, or shallow fried, rather than being baked.
The recipe actually suggests using wonton wraps, which can be easy to find in Asian supermarkets, which can show the dish’s Asian-Latin fusion.
They fill the wonton wraps with ground beef or chunkier, more steak-like cuts, that are seasoned in the typical Brazilian way.
While you can riff on the seasoning of the meat you like, the recipe suggests a traditional combination of tomato paste, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, and onion.
Picadillo is a popular beef stew in Latin countries, particularly Brazil, one which likely carries influence from the Caribbean countries close to Brazil.
This said, Brazil has their own unique way of making the dish and serving it. Picadillo generally describes a dish that has ground meat, tomatoes, olives, and spices.
Imagine Brazilian bolognese, and you will be on the right track. Served over rice, not pasta, the dish combines ground beef, or chunkier cuts of steak, with green olives, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, cilantro, and whatever else you would like.
In Brazil they traditionally serve this on ‘Brazilian’ rice. ‘Brazilian’ rice generally describes rice that has been sautéed with both garlic and onions, and is a really great accompaniment to any dish that has steak or beef.
Carne louca translates literally to ‘crazy meat’ but describes a common and popular Brazilian party food made with braised beef and vegetables, the perfect crowd pleaser at any pot luck or barbeque.
This is the kind of dish you could even make in a pressure cooker at home, and easily serve lots of people.
The dish is a simple combination of beef and vegetables. Tender cuts of steak are marinated in a regional vinegar based marinade.
Once marinated, the beef, as well as the vegetables, typically onions, tomatoes, and green peppers, are all sauteéd while the meat browns.
Once everything is browned the marinade is then added to the pan where the dish simmers in the marinade until the beef is tender. It is commonly served on hoagie rolls or whatever bread roll you enjoy.
The Brazilian Bauru describes a type of roasted beef, or steak, sandwich that is common among the street food vendors of Brazil.
Legend has it that a man walked into a deli in Sao Paulo one day and ordered this specific sandwich, it was soon added to the menu and became a popular sandwich in the region and country.
Quite simply, the sandwich combines roast beef, oe steak slices, with tomato, pickles, and mozzarella cheese to create the decadent but tasty sandwich.
The bread used for the sandwich is the ‘Portuguese roll’ , something really common in Brazil and Latin countries in general.
The latter bread is typically crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, a bit like french bread.
If you are from the US you are probably familiar with the taco culture of Latin America, as presented by the Mexicans and other Latin immigrants and citizens in our country. The Brazilian version is a little different and worth looking into, though.
Actually the doubled ‘ss’ in Portuguese refer to roasted beef rather than the grilled beef we might be used to in other Latin variants of the recipe.
The recipe calls for flank or skirt steak but you could theoretically use any cut.
The cut is marinated in a traditional marinade, usually combining olive oil, lime juice and other taco seasonings. It is then roasted and cut into chunks or thin slices.
Serve this on corn tortillas like you would any other taco and enjoy the unique flavor of the marinated and roasted beef, Brazil style.
As you can see, Brazil is one nation that just loves to cook steak. As we mentioned, they are one of the largest exporters of beef due to them having some of the largest cattle reserves of any country, so beef is a meat that they work with commonly.
While Brazilian cuisine has many other dishes that utilize other meats such as fish, eating beef is pretty commonplace in the country.
Brazilian steak dishes are often barbequed but also focus heavily on roasting the meat, in either case the beef is very commonly marinated in a specific Brazilian style.
Surprise any unsuspecting crowd at a BBQ or Potluck with any of these succulent beef dishes showing your adventurousness and gall in the kitchen, something that always pays off!