Vaca Atolada

Before we started making “Vaca Atolada,” during the Chefs Consortium cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma, I played  some Brazilian music and served “caldo de feijão”, Bean Soup. I called it “Serenade Soup.” Growing up in Brazil, friends would park under our windows or outside the door in the middle of the night to serenade. They would sing love songs or songs to honor someone for their birthday. Or was it a good way to get a refill to make into the morning?! They would sing until we would turn the lights on. The tradition is that we thank them by inviting them in and feeding them. One thing that most Brazilians have in their fridge is a pot of cooked beans. Here all the recipes from the class including the “Caldo.”

Vaca Atolada – “Cow Stuck in the Mud”

2 lbs beef short ribs

1/2 cup cachaça (brazilian rum)

beef broth, as needed

2 Tbsp oil

4 cloves chopped garlic

2 medium onions, chopped

1 red bell pepper

1 Tbsp annatto powder, Coriander, 1 bay leaf

Pimenta de cheiro (banana pepper)

Cheiro verde (scallion and parsley)

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Salt to taste and hot pepper

2 lbs mandioca (yuca, manioc)

Rinse the ribs. Put ribs in a saucepan with cachaça and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Turning as needed and skimming the top removing any  foam. Separate the meat from the broth. Refrigerate meat. In another container refrigerate the broth. When the broth is cooled, the fat will separate to the top of the broth. Discard the fat. Save the broth. Heat oil in a heavy cast iron casserole (Dutch oven).  Sauté ribs until browned. Set meat aside. To the pan, sauté the garlic, lemon juice, the onion, bell pepper. Add annatto. Add reserved broth, a little at a time, to form a nice broth. Add the bay leaf, salt to taste, and simmer, covered until the meat is tender. Meanwhile, wash, peel, and cut the mandioca and parboil in saved broth until semi-soft with 1 tsp salt. Add to the ribs. Continue cooking until it is a thick stew and the ribs are tender. The mandioca also will be very tender and falling apart… like mud Readjust seasoning, add cheiro verde. Serve with rice, collard greens.

Thank you Chef Liz Beals for this action shot! and all your help.

Caldo de Feijão (Bean Soup)

“Caldo” is a thin bean soup.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup bell red pepper
1/3 cup bell green pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp coriander
3 cups cooked pinto beans
2 cups of water or to desired consitancy
1 tbsp tomato paste
few shakes of Tabasco sauce
salt to taste
cheiro verde (a bunch of parsley, green onions and cilantro, chopped) to garnish and serve.
Using a blender, mix all ingredients. adding water as needed until thin to pour into cups.Bring to a pan and bring to a gentle boil. Serve hot. Serve with more hot pepper on the side.

Couve (Collard Greens)

2 tablespoons of olive oil
6 to 8 collard green leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1/2 cup onions, chopped
In a frying pan, sautee onions for 1 minute then add the collards and sautee until tender and bright green

Arroz (Yellow Rice)

serves 4
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or enough to coat the bottom of the pan
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water, plus as needed
1 cup rice ( a hand full per person, my mom’s way)
Rinse the rice several times, until the water runs clear. Let the rice dry
Heat up the water to a boil
Mash the garlic and salt with a mortar and pestle.
Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan with a heavy bottom, on medium heat. Add the rice and fry stirring until golden.
Add hot water VERY carefully to rice, covering the rice by about 1/2 inch
Add the mashed garlic and salt. ( 1 tsp of turmeric to make yellow rice)
cook until the water is reduced and you see “tunnels or channels” form.
Add water to cover the rice one more time, by about 1/2 inch
When the water is reduced the second time, turn off the heat and leave rice covered for 5-10 minutes more.
Fluff rice with fork and serve.

Ellie & Liz serving the final dishes

Pão de Queijo 3 Ingredients da Celeste (My Mom’s Cheese Bun)
1 cup of sour cream or greek yogurt
1 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp of Yuca (Tapioca) starch
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make small balls by rolling about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough in the palm of your hand.  Use the extra yuca flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes (Remember no peaking!) Remove from oven and serve immediately, piping hot.

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