Salad Bar Picks You Must Try at a Brazilian Steakhouse - or At Home
Eating at a Brazilian Steakhouse is a matter of strategy - you don’t want to go crazy with the salad bar before you start with the meat cuts, and at the same time you don’t want to skip on all the tasty offers that accompany the churrasco.
Despite some advice out there to avoid spending your appetite budget on the salad bar, we believe there are a few Brazilian side dishes and appetizers that should not be left out of the experience.
If for some reason you do not get to go to a Brazilian steakhouse, you can still bring this experience home. This is why we bring this short list of sides and appetizers together with easy recipes to make them at home with or without the meat.
In case you feel inspired to grill Brazilian churrasco, the perfect way to start is by reading our blog Brazilian Barbecue 101: A Guide To Meat Cuts and How to Grill Brazilian Steakhouse Style.
So let’s get to the point of this blog: The sides!
One of the oldest recipes, this delicacy came up with the native people from Brazil, centuries before the colonization by the Portuguese. According to food historians, farofa was created to provide a more nutritious food to the natives.
After colonization, the Portuguese used this mixture a lot to take on their travels, after all, it was the ideal food to withstand the adversities of everyday life on expeditions.
The main ingredient of farofa is cassava flour or corn flour, or even the combination of the two. It is cooked with a source of fat and nowadays it uses a variety of complementary ingredients such as banana, onion , bacon, sausage, cabbage, raisins and fresh herbs.
Farofa is usually served as a side dish, either with meat, chicken, fish, rice or any other food on daily or festive occasions.
It’s also very common to be found in salad bars of Brazilian steakhouses together with feijoada, a stew of beans with beef and pork. Although feijoada is not on this list, it's a very unique dish from Brazil's cuisine that is worth tasting even if just a bite.
Here are two basic recipes that can’t go wrong:
- 1 pound of toasted yucca flour
- 1/2 lbs of diced bacon
- 4 lbs of skinless sausage
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 5 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 lbs of raisins
- chopped parsley to taste
- chopped mint to taste
- salt to taste
How to prepare:
- In a pan, add the butter, chopped bacon and let it fry.
- Gradually add the sausage and let it fry.
- Add the garlic, wait until brown, then add the chopped onion, mixing well.
- Include the flour, mix well until golden brown.
- Add parsley and mint.
- Finally, add raisins and salt.
- Mix all the ingredients well, then turn off the heat.
Farofa with Crispy Onion
- ½ lbs of toasted yucca flour
- 4 medium onions cut in half
- ½ lbs of butter
- 1 cup of oil of your choice
- salt to taste
- chopped parsley and chives to taste
How to prepare:
- Over medium heat, add the oil to a pan.
- Add the onions cut and saute until golden brown.
- Add the butter and let it melt.
- Add parsley and chives and mix well.
- Place toasted yucca flour in the pan and stir constantly with a spoon.
- When ingredients are well mixed, turn off the heat.
- Add salt to taste and stir a little more.
Many countries have their own version of garlic bread, just like they have their own version of barbecue. So why not try the Brazilian one, even if just a bite? (you will want more than that, but be thoughtful of your appetite).
Here is a quick and simple recipe:
- 6 medium French breads
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 not-too-full tablespoon of oregano
- 1/2 cup chopped chives and parsley
- 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
- Salt and pepper to taste
How to prepare:
- In a bowl mix the mayonnaise, garlic, oregano, chives and parsley, salt and pepper and set aside.
- Cut French bread horizontally almost all the way through to form small slices (about 4) that remain attached at the bottom.
- Add the mixture between the slices and then wrap the buns
- Sprinkle grated parmesan over the buns.
- Place buns on the grill and cook well on both sides until they toast a bit and the mixture a bit melty.
You can also make your own Garlic Paste!
- 4 garlic heads
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
How to prepare:
- Preheat the oven to 392°F
- Cut off the top of the whole, unpeeled garlic heads. Transfer to a large piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Gather the ends of the paper and fold it to form a well-sealed bundle.
- Place the bundle on a baking sheet. Then place it in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove it from the oven and open the aluminum foil carefully. Let the garlic cool for a few minutes, enough to handle.
- With your fingertips, squeeze the garlic cloves one by one to remove the pulp onto a plate. With a fork, mash the garlic cloves while still warm until you form a paste. Transfer to a bowl (or pot), drizzle with olive oil and serve with toast or use to flavor sauces, purées, meats, and, of course, your garlic bread!
Note: you can keep the garlic paste in the fridge for up to 5 days, in an airtight container.
Polenta is a typical Italian food. Produced from corn flour, polenta was consumed by lower class families. In times of crisis, it was a substitute for bread and soups, as a main dish at the table.
With the arrival of the Italians in Brazil, this food became popular, especially in the southern region. Polenta became part of the menu as a side dish or as a snack, just like in Brazilian steakhouses.
Baked Polenta Sticks
If you’re looking for a healthy option, you can try this version of oven baked polenta fries by Inside the Rustic Kitchen. It explains visually two ways to prepare it in case of using pre cooked polenta or making it from scratch.
How to Make Fried Polenta Sticks
In case you want to fry them in deep oil as in the original recipe, you can follow the same steps from the baked recipe just until you cut them into sticks.
Next step is to coat the sticks prior to frying. First in flour, then in beaten egg and finally in breadcrumbs.
For these three ingredients, you can use the 1-1-1 proportion: 1 tbsp of flour to 1 tbsp of breadcrumbs to 1 egg unit. Increase the numbers depending on the amount of portions you plan to make.
Fry the polenta sticks in deep hot oil until golden brown (approx. 5 minutes). Remove them from the pan and place on a plate with paper towels to remove excess oil.
When serving, you can sprinkle the polenta sticks with salt, grated cheese and fried rosemary, or other toppings and seasonings of your choice.
Cheese Bread or Pão de Queijo
Brazilian cheese bread is an elastic, tasty dough whose origin is uncertain, but most reports point that the recipe was created in the state of Minas Gerais, southeastern Brazil in the 18th century.
Besides the location, how the recipe came to be is another mystery, although there are two possible stories.
One is that the cooks who worked for the landowners used cassava flour brought by the Portuguese in their bread recipes instead of wheat flour (of low quality and inappropriate for consumption). It was common for them to roll up leftover dough into small buns adding leftover ingredients like manioc starch and cheese chunks together with eggs and milk, and baked them for the landowners to eat after meals.
Another story mentions the period of slavery, when the mixture of eggs and milk, inherited from the Portuguese, was associated with cassava, the basis of indigenous food. Cheese was added to add flavor to the dough.
Cheese bread became popular in Brazil after the 1950's along with the development of other baked goods such as bread, cakes and cookies. From that decade, it began to be consumed throughout the country.
In addition, it is estimated that more than fifty countries in the world import cheese bread. You can also find recipes similar to Brazilian cheese bread in other countries. For example, pandebono from Colombia and pan de yuca from Argentina.
How to make Brazilian Cheese Bread
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Additional Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Yield: 6 breads
- ½ cup olive oil or butter
- ⅓ cup water
- ⅓ cup milk or soy milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups tapioca flour
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ⅔ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 beaten eggs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Combine olive oil, water, milk, and salt in a large saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from the heat.
- Stir in tapioca flour and garlic, stirring until smooth. Set aside to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir cheese and eggs into tapioca mixture until combined; the dough will be chunky, like cottage cheese.
- Drop dough by 1/4 cup-size balls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the tops are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
Potato salad with mayonnaise is one of those dishes that have their own version in many different countries and it is hard to find who invented it. It is so popular in Brazil that it's simply called “mayonnaise”.
The Brazilian version might have different influences like Kartoffelsalat or Russian salad.
Kartoffelsalat is a German potato salad - some types with mayonnaise and some without - which probably influenced Southern Brazilian cuisine with the German immigration.
The Russian salad, widely spread throughout the world, is a dish invented in 1860 by Lousiene Olivier, a Moscow chef of French origin.
There are several theories and claims about the origin of mayonnaise sauce as well.
Regardless, mayonnaise is an emulsion that has three ingredients: egg yolk, oil and vinegar (which can be replaced with mustard or lemon).
It may seem simple, but mixing these ingredients requires care to ensure that the result doesn’t go awry. Ideally, the ingredients should be at room temperature and the oil should be added slowly, in very fine threads, so that the ingredients come together in a neat way.
How to make Brazilian Potato Salad
Among the infinite recipes out there, you can the one published by the Brazilian Steakhouse chain Texas de Brazil that should come out just like in the restaurant!
Brazilian sausage or Linguiça (pronounced ling-gwee-suh), is made from ground pork and gets its flavor from several spices.
Like Spanish chorizo, Brazilian sausage has its unique, remarkable flavors that deserve to be tasted at Brazilian steakhouses or as you try Brazilian style BBQ at home.
It pairs well with farofa!
You can grill it or skewer it widthwise. Usually, it needs 40 minutes to cook evenly and to be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Ideally, it should be at a distance of 15 inches from the embers.
What other sides would you include in the must-try list?
Share it with friends and welcome home the Brazilian cuisine!