Several weeks ago I decided to host a Brazilian send-off for two new friends that were going to Sao Paolo. On the menu was bolinhos de bacalhau, marinated pork loin, sautéed collard greens, rice, beans, and of course caipirinhas. When I first was introduced to Brazilian food the first dish that I first fell in love with was the bolinhos de bacalhau, or codfish fritters. Over the years I have developed my own little ritual for eating them, which includes a squeeze of lime, a dash of Tabasco and a spoonful of Brazilian vinaigrette (recipe below). This is not the traditional way to eat them, but like many of my food compulsions, once I find a flavor combination that I like, long standing tradition goes out the window.
These still are quite possibly one of my favorite things to eat and at dinner parties they fly off the table. The ingredients are cheap, the flavor wonderful and they can either be served as an appetizer or as part of the main meal. Malaguetta pepper hot sauce is always present and capirinhas are consumed faster than my husband can make them. The recipes for the foregoing are all below and I hope you will try one, if not all, of the dishes featured. Although I am not Brazilian, my husband is, so with his nod of approval I can guarantee that this food is authentic and delicious!
Bolinhos de Bacalhau:
1 lb of salt cod soaked for 2 days. Change the water several times. (Some recipes call for a longer period of time but I feel that this removes too much salt.)
2 large potatoes (you will need two cups)(white, Yukon or any type that mash well)
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1 cup of bread crumbs
several dashes of garlic powder
2 eggs separated with the yolks lightly beaten
¼ cup milk (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs of peppercorns
½ yellow onion sliced
salt to taste
1 quart of vegetable oil for frying
Newspaper and/pr paper towel for draining
4 limes quartered
(Note: You can find salt codfish at Whole Foods, but it is a lot cheaper if you go to a store in Chinatown or in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or South American neighborhoods.)
Add the codfish, bay leaf, peppercorns and the onion with enough water to cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. (I have read that if you overcook the fish will toughen but I never saw a difference when I forgot the codfish too long)(You can also store the fish in the mixture for more flavor).
Peel and cube the potatoes and boil in salted water until they are soft enough to mash.
Drain the codfish and place in a food processor. As I add the codfish I go through it and remove any bones or pieces of skin. Pulse the fish until it is in tiny bits. (You can also shred by hand if you do not have a food processor.) Add the parsley and garlic powder and continue to pulse until everything is incorporated. Place the mixture into a large bowl and using a potato ricer add the potato. If you do not have a ricer, mash finely using a fork. I add a little potato at a time checking for flavor as I go. Add salt, mix thoroughly and taste for seasoning.
Add the egg yolks and incorporate. If the mixture is too dry add some milk to moisten, if too wet, bread crumbs to absorb the moisture. Take the remaining egg whites and beat until soft peaks form and then fold into the mixture. This extra step is not necessary, but I feel that it creates a fluffier bolinho. Chill for several hours until the mixture firms up.
When ready to cook take an ice cream scoop or two spoons and create evenly portioned little croquettes. You can make then round, oblong, or quenelles. Gently coat in bread crumbs and set aside until ready to fry. You can even do this the morning of, but remember to refrigerate!
In a heavy bottomed deep pan, preferably cast iron, fry at 375 degrees until golden brown. (If you do not have a thermometer, you can use my grandmother's technique, which is adding a little piece of bread to the oil to see if its hot enough. If it is ready, the bread will rise and start to have little bubbles around it.
Remember not to overcrowd the pan or they will not cook properly. The temperature will also drop when you add the food so you need to regulate accordingly. Turn the fritters while cooking to ensure even color. Drain on paper towels and salt while hot. Serve with limes, hot sauce and vinegraitte.
1 small tomato cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
½ green pepper finely chopped
3 Tbs olive oil
Enough red wine vinegar to cover the mixture by ½ inch. About 1 cup.
Salt to taste
(Note: This is great over rice and beans or steak!)
Sauteed Collar Greens:
1 bunch of collar greens washed and cored. I take the tough vein out with a knife but you can also fold the leaf in half and rip it out.
4-6 cloves finely minced garlic
Layer the greens so the largest one is on the outside and roll tightly. Fasten with rubber bands or hold firmly with your hand. Finely slice as in the picture below. Many Brazilians pride themselves on how thin they can slice them. My husband’s father is particularly good at this.
Add the garlic to the oil and start to heat. Cook garlic for a minute or two, making sure not to burn it. Add the greens, tossing while cooking, so the garlic is incorporated. Cook until tender. They should still be bright green (see below). Salt to taste.
(Note: These are a nutritious and delicious side that go well with everything from fish, meat or just rice and beans. Make sure your pan is large enough. The greens will reduce quickly, but they will take a lot of room in the beginning.)
The pork loin was delicious! The recipe was created by Devaki at Weave a Thousand Flavors and you can find her recipe at: http://www.weavethousandflavors.com/2010/02/a-spin-on-brazillian-feijoada-pork-tenderloin-marinated-in-feijioda-inspired-spices-roasted-with-a-o.html
I only had time to marinate the pork for two days, but it was still great and the glaze was amazing. I like my pork medium, so I cooked it at 425 – until it reached 138 on an internal thermometer and then let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Around 45-50 minutes. I served it on a platter surrounded by the collard greens and sliced oranges.
4 ounces cachaca (I like them strong)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 lime quartered and sliced
Muddle the lime and sugar very well. The longer you take doing this, the better it will taste. (The best caipirnha I ever had even removed the skin of the lime but this takes a bit longer. Try it if you have time). Add the cachaca, ice and shake.
You can also add strawberries, mango or passionfruit! Strawberry is my favorite!
Passion Fruit Caipirinha