Grilling Gaucho Style - Churassco on the Deck

Our two guys are home from college for the summer; you know what that means? Meat. We are cooking lots and lots of meat, making this the perfect opportunity for us to explore the art of churrasco (Brazilian barbecue.) In Southern Brazil, varieties of meats, pork, sausage and chicken are cooked on a "churrasqueira" which is a purpose-built grill with supports for spits or skewers.

We recently received a review copy of Churrasco: Grilling the Brazilian Way, the new cookbook by Evandro Caregnato, who help to open the original Texas de Brazil restaurant in 1998, and is now Culinary Director of the chain’s more than 40 locations. His book provides an insider’s perspective on the gaucho (cowboy) culture of Brazil, and the hardcore barbecue cooking they enjoy on the other side of the equator.

Chapters explaining the culture of Brazilian gauchos and the churrascaria barbecues they love are included in addition to chapters featuring traditional recipes for grilled meats like pichana, flap meat, and chicken legs as well as authentic chimichurri, signature side dishes and even instructions for Brazilian drinks chimarrĂ£o and caipirinha. The Brazilian pronunciation guide and glossary are extremely helpful, and the drool-worthy photos help to tell the tale of the churassco lifestyle.

While most of the book’s recipes and techniques are better suited to cooking on a larger scale, we adapted several recipes with good results. We assembled a makeshift churrasqueira on the deck by stacking bricks and a grate atop a kettle grill to achieve the height (approximately 12 inches above the charcoal) to keep the meat from the flames.

Using flat iron steak, Dom prepped the meat by patting it dry with paper towels and cutting it into strips about 2 inches thick and 6 inches long. The strips were folded in the shape of a C and skewered using a stainless-steel skewers. He applied kosher salt to lightly cover all sides of the meat. We recommend doing this over the sink or a cutting board.

Once the coals were ready (glowing a little with minimal black smoke) we rested the meat on the grill and cooked the steak. Once the meat was nicely browned and slightly charred, Dom checked the inside which was medium with a hot pink center.

According to Caregnato, gauchos usually don't worry about the internal temperature of the meat if the meat has not reached the desired level of doneness, they place it back on the skewer and continued cooking.

We served the steak with grilled onions and charred broccoli and thoroughly enjoyed our churassco experience!