Happy Birthday Brazil! 3 Traditional dishes to celebrate (RECIPES)

Today is Brazil's Independence Day and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with some delicious Brazilian food.

Of course, the South American country is known for amazing steak (churrascaria restaurants are one of my favorites) and satisfying caipirinha drinks (the cachaça-based cocktail) but there's some other dishes that are a MUST for celebrating today. Whether you're addicted to pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread balls) the way I am, love eating feijoada (Brazilian black bean stew), or are a devoted fan of moqueca (Brazilian fish and seafood stew), these recipes are delicious winners any day of the week.

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Read more ¿Que Mas? 5 Cocktails to celebrate international cachaça day!

Pão de Queijo (recipe courtesy of TheKitchn.com)

Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (10 ounces) tapioca flour or sour cassava flour
2 eggs
1 - 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking pan with parchment and set aside. Boil the Milk and Oil: Combine the milk, oil, and salt in the saucepan, and whisking occasionally, bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as you see big bubbles coming through the milk.

2. Add the Tapioca Flour: Add all of the tapioca flour to the saucepan and stir until you see no more dry tapioca flour. The dough will be grainy and gelatinous at this point.

3. Cool the Dough: Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (Alternatively, you can do the next few steps by hand. Be prepared for a work-out.) Beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed until it smooths out and has cooled enough that you can hold your finger against the dough for several seconds.

4. Beat in the Eggs: Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. With the mixer on medium, beat the eggs into the dough in two additions. Wait until the first addition has been fully incorporated into the dough before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

5. Beat in the Cheese: With the mixer on medium, beat in the cheese until fully incorporated. The resulting dough will be very sticky, stretchy, and soft with a consistency between cake batter and cooke dough.

6. Portion the Puffs: Using an ice cream scoop, a tablespoon measure, or a dinner spoon, scoop rounded portions of the dough into mounds on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Space the mounds an inch or two apart. Dip your scoop in water to prevent sticking.

7. Bake the Puffs: Transfer the sheet with the puffs to the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 350°F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the puffs have puffed, the outsides are dry, and they are just starting to color. Cool briefly and eat. Leftover puffs can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week and re-crisped in a warm oven or toaster oven.

Feijoada (recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes)

Ingredinets:
1 pound (450 grams) dry black beans
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound (450 grams) pork shoulder, cut into chunks
2 large onions, sliced
1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 pound (450 grams) carne seca or corned beef, cut into chunks
1/2 pound (225 grams) fresh sausages, such as chorizo or Italian sausage
1 pound (450 grams) smoked sausage, such as linguica or kielbasa
1 smoked ham hock or shank
3-4 bay leaves
Water
1 14.5 ounce can (411 grams) of crushed tomatoes
Salt

Directions:
1. Pour boiling water over the black beans and let them sit while you prepare the rest of the stew.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and brown the pork shoulder. When it has browned, remove the meat from the pot, set aside and add the onions to the pot. Brown them, stirring occasionally, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle a little salt over the onions and add the garlic. Stir well and sauté 2 more minutes.

3. Add back the pork shoulder, and the other meats and add enough water to cover. Add the bay leaves, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 1 hour. Drain the black beans from their soaking liquid and add them to the stew. Simmer gently, covered, until the beans are tender, about an hour and a half.

4. Add the tomatoes, stir well and taste for salt, adding if it's needed. Simmer this, uncovered, until the meat begins to fall off the ham hock, which will probably take 2-3 hours.

Moqueca (recipe courtesy of Leite's Culinaria)

Ingredients:
1 scallion (white and green parts), chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons dendê oil (you can use extra-virgin olive oil or peanut oil, but you'll loose the vibrant Bahian hue)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 1/4 pounds sea bass, cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup freshly chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup freshly chopped yellow bell pepper
1 1/2 cups fish stock (you can substitute clam juice, low-sodium chicken broth, or equal amounts of both)
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup canned or jarred hearts of palm, drained and diced
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced

Directions:
1. In a bowl, mix together half of the scallion, half of the onion, half of the ginger, and half of the garlic. Add 2 tablespoons of the dendê oil, all of the olive oil, and half of the cilantro. Place the chunks of fish in a resealable plastic bag and add the marinade, pressing the bag to evenly coat the fish. Remove all of the air from the plastic bag and seal it. Place the bag in a shallow bowl, making sure the chunks of fish are completely covered by the marinade, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

2. Take the fish out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

3. Place the remaining 3 tablespoons of the dendê oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the remaining scallion and onion along with the green and yellow bell peppers, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

4. Add the remaining ginger and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring to combine, for another minute or until it's hot. Add the fish stock and let it come to a full boil. Add the coconut milk and tomato paste and return to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to medium-low or so and simmer the sauce, nice and gently, while you prepare the fish.

5. In the meantime, place the fish and its marinade in a gratin or casserole dish. Pour the lemon juice on top and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake until the fish is almost but not quite cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Carefully transfer each chunk of fish to the pan with the gently simmering sauce. Add any juices in the dish from the fish and marinade. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook just until the fish is soft and tender, 5 to 8 minutes.

7. Uncover the pan, add the hearts of palm and tomatoes, and just let them get hot, which will take only a minute or two.

8. Taste the moqueca, season it with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the remaining fresh cilantro.

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Images via thekicthn, Leite's Culinaria, Simply Recipes

Topics: brazilian food  traditional latin recipes  latin seafood