So we’ve finally reached the end of the season and so it was time to celebrate with some Brazilian food. Brazilian cuisine draws on many influences, starting with Portuguese and also incorporating other European and African influences.
I enjoy tactile food and Brazil is another country with a great street food culture. As a result I chose to make two different snacks for us to nibble upon. The first dish was Coxinhas, deep fried chicken croquettes in the shape of little chicken thighs, and Acarajè, which are black eye pea fritters filled with onions and prawns.
The Coxinhas required the most preparation and so I started on these first. In order to make 4 (2 each) I needed:
- 125g of chicken breast
- 180ml water
- 2 shallots
- 2 cocktail tomatoes (about 4 cherry ones)
- 30ml of cream cheese (I did this by eye)
- ½ cup of plain flour
- 10mls oil
- An egg
The first thing I needed to do was to simmer the chicken in the water for 20 minutes with the lid on, leaving me with nice soft chicken and a sort of stock. When it was done I drained the chicken, reserving the liquid, and allowed it to cool.
I then topped the liquid back up to 125ml (despite having the lid on the pan I lost quite a bit!), put it back in the saucepan and added the flour and oil along with some salt and pepper. This resulted in something that looked like wallpaper paste, but the addition of heat and a lot of stirring eventually resulted in a ball of dough, although it was touch and go for a while! The pastry then also went to one side to cool down.
The shallots went into a pan with some oil for a couple of minutes, and when they were soft the tomatoes joined them. Finally the chicken was added along with seasoning, followed by a good dollop of cream cheese to hold everything together.
When the pastry was cool enough to work with (about 30 minutes in the fridge) I split of into four and began assembling the Coxinhas. The pastry was quite sticky and so I used plenty of flour on my hands and the work surface. I stretched each piece of pastry into an approximation of a circle and placed a quarter of my filling in the middle.
These were then dipped in beaten and then breadcrumbs (I did this twice to give a good coating) before being deep fried. I don’t own an oil thermometer or professional fryer so I had to guess the temperature of the oil. \But it only needed to be fairly low so to to crisp the outside and gently warm the Coxinhas through. After about 5 minutes in each in the oil (I managed to fit two at a time in my pan) I drained them on some kitchen towel and they were ready.
So, while the filling and dough for the Coxinhas were cooling I was actually preparing my Acarajè with a plan to serving the two together. There was a lot less cooking involved in the Acarajè, largely because I was using tinned black eyed peas. If I had gone for fresh I would have needed to soak them overnight and then boil them, but as it was I could just use them straight away. To make the Acarajè I needed:
- 200g of black eyed peas
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 onion
- Half a red chilli
- 100g prawns (I used quite large ones)
The black eyed peas went into my mini chopper to be blitzed to a pulse. These then went into a bowl and the chilli, the garlic and half the onion were next into the chopper (you can do this in one stage if you have a full size processor, I really need to get round to getting one!) and when finely chopped were added to the black eyed peas.
The other half of the onion was finely sliced and went into a small frying pan to gently sweat down. To be traditional this should have been cooked in palm oil, but unfortunately I couldn’t get hold of any. When the onion was lovely and soft the prawn were added and cooked through and the filling was finished.
To make the fritters I shaped the mixture into six balls which I then fried. In a pan, trying my best to make sure that the entire outside touched the pan at some point and crisped up – this was more or less successful, but I think if I was to make these again in the future it might be easier to just quickly deep fry them!
I have to say I really enjoyed both dishes. I though the Coxinhas were really great and I loved that you could taste a certain chickenyness in the pastry. My partner wasn’t so keen as he thought the texture was a bit soft, but they were right up my alley! The Acarajè were slightly tricky to eat, my filling kept making a break for it, but were also very tasty with a nice bit of heat to give some life to the beans.
The race itself, well Vettel didn’t win this one. A gearbox problem left him travelling just slow enough that his teammate needed to pass him, but quick enough to keep him in front of everyone else. For the rest, Hamilton also suffered gearbox issues and had to retire two thirds of the way through, Rosberg continued his run of finishing where he qualified or just slightly back, but managed to outperform Schumacher once again after Schuchy had a coming together with Senna. The race was interesting, fun while it lasted, but not terribly memorable.
I’ve really enjoyed my tour around the globe cooking the cuisines of each of the race locations. I’ve cooked a lot of dishes that I don’t think I would have tried otherwise, and have found some new favourites. It’s not all been easy and it hasn’t all worked, but I’ve learnt a lot and I feel quite sad now it’s all over and I don’t have another race to plan for. I need to find a new project!