Archive for the ‘Beef’ Category

Baião de dois

Posted: October 7, 2012 in Beef, Brazilian, Main course

A while back I started a quest for a decent substitute for “queijo de coalho” , one of my favorite types of cheese from my hometown in Brazil. The options had varying qualities, but it never really hit the spot with the perfect substitute. Earlier this year, however, while going to my local farmer’s market, I found one type cheese from a local producer, Ladysmith (from Samish Bay Cheese) which had all the qualities I was looking for: appearance, taste, crust when fried. I’d say that it’s about 90% of the original, which was amazing. Every Saturday when we went to the market I had to buy some of that cheese.

But our local farmer’s market is only opened from May to October, so with the year getting close to the end, my weekly cheese fix was coming to an end. So last week I decided to get a larger-than-normal piece of cheese, and to start enjoying it more – not only by itself, but within Brazilian recipes as well. And this one is from my home state of Pernambuco, called “Baião de dois”, which combines rice, beans, cheese and some other ingredients.


There’s no good translation for “Baião de dois” – “baião” is a kind of music from Northeast Brazil, so it could be roughly interpreted as a pairing of two ingredients (in this case, rice and beans) to make something so great that it’s almost musical. Dried beef, bacon, coconut milk and some vegetables complete this dish.

Another thing which I like about it is that it’s one of the everything-in-one-pan meals, like lasagna, which don’t require any side dishes – it already has everything in it. I got its recipe from the great cookbook collection “Cozinha Regional Brasileira”, in the book about Pernambuco, but I changed it a little: used less coconut milk, butter and oil than it suggested; added some regular beef in addition to the dried beef (I can’t find it around here with very good quality); used black-eyed peas for the beans (they’re actually considered “beans” in Brazil, not peas); and some other minor changes.

Ingredients (for 8 people):

  • 10 oz. thick-sliced bacon, cut in 1/2” pieces
  • 6 oz. dried beef (found a piece in a local Brazilian store)
    • This type of beef is really, really salty, so you need to de-salt it first: cut it in 1/4”-thick slices, then add to water in a pan and bring to a boil; change the water and bring it to a boil again, then discard the water
  • 1lb. beef strips (it can be found in supermarkets marked as “for stir fry”), seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cups of cooked black-eyed peas (that comes out a little less than 1lb uncooked)
  • 2.5 cups cooked rice
  • 8 oz. coconut milk (the recipe asked for 1 liter, I think it was too much)
  • 1/4 lb. fresh Ladysmith cheese (if you can’t find it, you can substitute it with “queso fresco”, although it won’t have the same tanginess of the original), finely crumbled
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped green onions, for decoration

Add the bacon to the pan, frying it until most of the fat has rendered, then reserve. Remove about 1/2 of the rendered fat and reserve. In the remaining fat in the pan, fry the beef strips until the desired doneness, then reserve. on the Cut the dried beef in thin slices, and fry it (in the same pan) for about 5-10 minutes (the beef that I found was really hard, so I sliced it really, really thin), then reserve.

Return the reserved fat to the pan, add the chopped onion and the garlic, season them with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is soft. Add back the bacon and dried beef, the beans, mixing it well, then the rice and the coconut milk. Add back the beef and mix well. Finally, add the cheese and cover the pan, leaving it on slow heat for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

Sprinkle chopped green onions and serve hot.


P.S.: At the end, I talked to the farmer at the market, and he mentioned some other farmer’s markets where I could find them year-round, so my cheese fix is safe after this month 🙂


Steak au poivre

Posted: January 26, 2012 in Beef, Food, French

Unlike many people in my family, my relationship with pepper didn’t start early. Quite often my parents and my brother would praise an even mildly spicy dish, and I’d be complaining that it was too hot. My father even grew some chilies at our house, but I never got too close to them. When I moved to the US over 10 years ago, I thought most foods were quite spicy, even a cheese pizza from Domino’s or Pizza Hut would have me reaching for water… Maybe my taste buds couldn’t take anything other than the lowest foods on the Scoville scale, I simply didn’t like piquant foods.


So when I decided to prepare a Steak au poivre, that was definitely a proof that tastes change. Maybe because of not having another option in many restaurants I went out with friends, I started getting more and more used to spicy foods, up to the point where nowadays I even ask for a few stars in most Thai restaurants. I’m still not up to a “wings of fire” challenge, but I may get there sometime. Meanwhile, I decided to go into the famous French dish when shopping at Costco the filet mignon looked at me and almost begged me to take it home – I had never tried one, but I remember that it looked good when my parents would order one in a restaurant.

The recipe is quite simple, and not overly spicy (the cracked peppercorns ended up being a great compliment to the steak, without overpowering it). I decided to go with one recipe from Alton Brown from Food Network which seemed quite easy. A few modifications I did was that I used whipping cream instead of heavy cream (that’s what I had in the fridge) and followed one of the commenters suggestion to finish the steak on the oven. The sauce ended up a little thinner than the ones I’ve seen in picture over the web (likely because of the difference in the cream), but it turned out really good.

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 4 filet mignon steaks, about 1” thick, fat trimmed
  • 2 tbsp. whole peppercorns (I used a mixture of red / green / black I had in my pantry)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • salt

Crack the peppercorns with a mallet (I used a cheesecloth to prevent it from going everywhere in the kitchen), and spread them in a plate. Season the steaks with salt, then press them into the pepper, until the surface is coated.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F (175C). On an oven-proof skillet large enough for all steaks, heat the oil and the butter until it starts smoking. Sear the steaks (1-2 minutes each side), then transfer the pan to the oven for about 10 minutes (for medium; adjust the time for other levels of doneness). Remove the pan from the oven, remove the steaks from it and set them aside (wrapped in a tinfoil tent to keep warm).

Carefully add the cognac to the pan (it may catch fire right away). If it still isn’t on fire, light it up with a long match, then stir the pan scraping the bottom until the flames die. Add the cream, bring it to medium heat whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Adjust the salt, then bring the steaks back to the pan, coating them with the sauce.


Serve immediately with rice and potatoes. Enjoy!

Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, book 1 (Minas Gerais)


History: “Tropeiros” were the name given to the conductors of “tropas”, the pack of horses and mares which were used to transport products between the producing regions and the consumer markets in central Brazil in the 17th century. One of their typical food was beans with smoked bacon, sausage, onion, garlic and eggs (which could be carried without refrigeration for a couple of days), and this recipe got the name since then. It’s a great recipe which can be done essentially in a single (large) skillet.

Variation from the original: Not much, I added more sausage than the recipe in the book asked for, but otherwise it was “by the book”. Also the book didn’t specify how to cook the beans, I added some smoked pork necks for flavor.

Ingredients from specialty stores: I got the “farinha” (toasted ground yucca root) from a Brazilian store. Everything else was found in my local Fred Meyer.


  • 1 lb. pinto beans
  • 1/2 – 1 lb. smoked pork necks (or ham hocks, or some other smoked pork with bones)
  • 12 oz. sliced bacon
  • 1 lb. smoked sausage, cut in thin (1/8”) “coins”
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup “farinha”
  • salt & pepper
  • green onions and parsley for decoration

Cook the beans according to the package direction, adding the smoked pork necks for flavor. When the beans are cooked, remove the necks and discard, and reserve the beans. Cut the bacon slices in small strips, then cook them in a large, non-stick skillet until the bacon pieces are crispy, having rendered most of the fat. Remove the fat and reserve it to be used later. Remove the bacon pieces and place in a plate covered with a paper towel to dry. Add the sausage and cook them, turning the pieces until they start to brown, then remove and reserve. In the same skillet, add the eggs and scramble them until they start to harden (they’ll look easy at this point), remove and reserve. Return the reserved bacon fat to the pan, then cook the onions until they start to become soft, then add and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the beans to the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, slowly add the “farinha”, mixing it to incorporate. When it’s done, add the reserved eggs, bacon and sausage back to the skillet, and cook for another 2 minutes to incorporate everything.

At the end, sprinkle chopped green onions and parsley for decoration, and serve with white rice.


Beef stroganoff

Posted: May 15, 2011 in Beef, Brazilian, Food

Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, book 11, Paraná.


History: Stroganoff is quite common throughout most of Brazil, although given its name its origin is definitely foreign (maybe from Russia?). Unlike most of the versions I’ve eaten in the United States where it’s commonly served with noodles, in Brazil it’s always served with (white) rice and (almost always) with potatoes. The Brazilian version also always includes sliced button mushrooms (usually canned ones), which give a nice contrast to the meat texture.

Variation from the original: Not much, except for some quantities – I used more meat, more cognac, less heavy cream (I only had about 1.5 cups, the recipe asked for 2.5) – and the cut of meat (instead of filet mignon I used top sirloin, which worked quite nice and cost half the price)

Ingredients from specialty stores: None


  • 3lb. top sirloin, fat removed, cut in small (1/2” cubes / strips)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cognac (regular brandy would work as well)
  • 1.5 cup table cream (can be substituted by heavy cream)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp. ground mustard
  • 2 8oz. cans sliced mushrooms
  • salt & pepper

Season the meat with salt and pepper, then fry it in small batches using 1 tbsp. olive oil per lb. in a large pan (to prevent liquid from accumulating) and reserve. Heat up the rest of the oil on the same pan, scraping the bottom for meat pieces, then fry the garlic for 2 minutes, then add the onion and fry for another 10 minutes (until it starts to brown). Add the meat and flambé with the cognac. Return to the stove and add the cream, the ketchup, the mustard and the mushrooms, stirring to mix, and cook for 5 more minutes.

Serve with white rice and either sautéed potatoes (tastier) or shoestring potatoes (easier, since you can get them ready in the supermarket).


Cozido (Stew)

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Beef, Brazilian, Food, Pork

Source: Family recipe. I used to eat it a lot in my grandmother’s house.


History: In my home state, there are a few kinds of stew, but one of them doesn’t need any qualification, it’s simply “stew”. It’s typically made with lots of meat (smoked and cured with salt), and lots of vegetables. Like the “peixada” I wrote about before, it’s hard not to make a lot of it, so it’s usually done for many people (I actually found a recipe for it on the Brazilian Regional Cuisine book series, and it was listed for 20 people). It’s also served with the “pirão”, a creamy side dish made with the liquid from the cooking and toasted, ground yucca flour (“farinha”).

Variation from the original: It’s hard to find salted meats around here, so I had to overload on the smoked ones (a lot more sausage than before). Also, the kinds of sausages which were used in my grandma’s house couldn’t be found here, so I had to improvise with whatever I could find in the supermarket. Also, I couldn’t find all vegetables from the original. Some substitutions worked out fine (added sweet potato, acorn squash instead of pumpkin), others didn’t (the plantains didn’t come out anything like the large cooking bananas we used in Brazil). I also missed the collard greens (I even bought it, but forgot to add them at the end).

Ingredients from specialty stores: “farinha” (toasted ground yucca root) from a Brazilian store. Thick-cut beef shank from a local butcher. Everything else was found in my local supermarket.


  • 2 thick-cut (~2”) beef shank cuts, bone in (~4.5 lb)
  • 3 lb. stewing meat (I used cross rib roast), whole roast
  • 2 lb. smoked sausage, cut in ~2” pieces
  • 1 lb. smoked pork chops, cut in 1” strips
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, whole
  • 1 head of cabbage, quartered
  • 1 chayote squash, quartered, seeds removed
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut in 1-2” pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled, halved
  • 1 acorn squash, quartered, seeds removed
  • 3 ears of corn, cleaned, cut in half
  • 1 plantain (I used a green one, it didn’t turn out good at all, next time I’ll try to find a ripe one)
  • 1 cup “farinha”
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • limes (for squeezing top of the food at the table)

Almost everything will go in a single pot, so you need a really large one. The shank takes a long, long, long time to cook (at least 4 hours in a normal pan), so plan to start early. Season all sides with salt and pepper, then lightly brown it on a frying pan coated with oil. Then put it in the large pot and cover with water. Season the stewing meat with salt & pepper, lightly brown it and dump it in the pan. Do the same with the sausages (frying pan, then large pot). Everything needs to be covered with water, add more if necessary.

Now start the vegetables. The meat will cook for a long time, so the vegetables will likely be done before the meat is tender, so you can either add / remove the vegetables as they cook, or try to time adding them at the right time. The order of them is approximately the following: carrots / cabbage / onion (done after 1h-1.5h), chayote / sweet potato / pumpkin / corn (done after 30’-1h), potatoes / plantains (done in less than 30’), collards (done in about 15’). I already did both ways, but I find that adding / removing the vegetables is easier to control their doneness – by the end either heat them up quickly in the oven or bring them back to the pan for a few minutes.

The meat will be done when it can be pulled easily with a fork. Last time I took the shanks before they were good (I started late, didn’t give it enough time to get tender), and they were quite rough, but I later put them back in the pan and cooked them for another 3h, and by dinner time they were fantastic. The same with the stewing meat (again, started late).

When everything is almost ready, strain some of the cooking liquid into a separate pan to make the “pirão” – with the pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, slowly pour the “farinha” until it starts to thicken.

For serving, I like to arrange the vegetables and the meats in different serving dishes to make it easier for people to choose. Then serve them with rice and the “pirão”.


Meat loaf

Posted: December 23, 2010 in American, Beef, Food, Poultry

Source: Modified from a recipe from Real Simple magazine (from about 8 years ago, I think the recipe is this one).


History: This is a typical American dish, which we’ve adopted to our family since we’ve loved it the first time we tried – and all other times I made it.

Variation from the original: I frankly don’t remember what the original was, but a few things I know I do differently: the meat mixture varies every time I make it, depending on what I have in my fridge; the original recipe asked for jalapeños, which I never have at home so I never use.

Ingredients from specialty stores: None


  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • salt & pepper

In a skillet, heat the oil, add the onion, celery and garlic, salt, pepper and cook until the vegetables start to soften. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then mix together the tomato sauce, milk and bread crumbs. Add the meat and the vegetables, and mix well to combine, adding more salt to season the meat.

In a small (9×5) loaf pan, add the bacon strips at the bottom, making a loose “basket”. Add the meat mixture in the pan, then pull the strips over the meat.


Heat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the meat loaf with a thermometer until the internal temperature reaches 155ºF (about 60-90 minutes). When it’s done, tilt the pan to pour off the fat, holding the meat in place with a spatula. Serve it with rice and mashed potatoes.




Posted: November 28, 2010 in Beef, Brazilian, Food

Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, book 6 (Pernambuco)


History: “Arrumadinho” (loosely translated as “nicely presented”) is a typical appetizer from the state of Pernambuco, consisting primarily of shelled green beans, “farofa” (fried ground yucca/cassava root), dried beef (a slab of beef cured with salt; I don’t know exactly which cut of beef is used) and a vegetable vinaigrette.

Variation from the original: I used black-eyed peas instead of the green beans; I used parsley instead of cilantro for the vinaigrette; I also added the rice because we had some leftover from a beet-seasoned rice I had made the day before which usually isn’t part of the recipe.

Ingredients from specialty stores: I got the dried beef and the “farinha” (ground yucca) from a Brazilian store nearby. Everything else can be found in most supermarkets.


  • 2 cups of (cooked) black-eyed peas
  • 2 cups of (cooked) rice
  • For the dried beef:
    • Dried beef (1 package, about 150g/5oz)
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • For the “farofa”:
    • 1 cup “farinha”
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 3 tbsp. butter
    • salt & pepper
  • For the vinaigrette:
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
    • 3 tbsp. vinegar
    • 3 tbsp. olive oil
    • juice of 1/2 lime
    • salt & pepper
  • Green onions for decoration

Cook the beans with water/salt (I also added sausage and smoked pork neck bones for taste) according to the package directions. Cook the rice according to the package directions. Trim most of the fat off the dried beef (in the original recipe the fat is mostly left on, I prefer mine without it), and cut it in small (0.5cm / 1/4”) cubes. Put the beef in a small pan with water and bring it to a boil (to remove the salt). After it boils for 2-3 minutes, remove from the heat, drain off the water, and let it dry while you prepare the other parts.

To prepare the “farofa”, melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a non-stick pan and add the onion. Let it cook until it starts to brown, then add the “farinha”, the remaining butter. Cook it mixing constantly for about 3-5 minutes, until the “farinha” starts getting some color. To prepare the vinaigrette, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.

Finally, heat up the olive oil and cook the beef for about 5 minutes (it’s already “cooked”, but I always like to heat it up a little prior to serving).

To prepare the “arrumadinho”, put the rice and beans in small bowls (sprinkling some chopped green onions over the beans) and surround them with the beef, the “farofa” and the vinaigrette, without mixing them (the presentation is key Smile).

When it’s hot (which is the case 365 days of the year in Pernambuco), it’s usually accompanied by a very cold beer.