By Anita Mabante Leach
If you are an unabashed carnivore, you probably love churrasco.
Churrasco is a barbecue style of cooking meats, developed by Brazilian gauchos of the past who would cook fresh meats over a charcoal fire every night while out on the range. According to churrasco lore, twice a year ranchers would host large feasts and invite everyone with an appetite to enjoy dinner.
Locally, there are two restaurants that offer churrasco in the rodizio (all you can eat) serving style: Rio Sabor Brazil, 10425 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, and Fogo e Brasa, 4909 E. Chandler Blvd., Chandler.
These restaurants each offer an array of salads and hot side dishes, in addition to a variety of churrasco-style meats, for a fixed price of about $35 per person. Waiters look for customers to signal when they are ready for some hot-off-the-grill meat, carrying long skewers of ready-to-carve carnes.
That means you’ll likely spend at least $100 for two. While some may view $100 as a small splurge for a good meal, I’m here to tell you that with a bit of planning, you can serve churrasco at home.
No kidding. Here’s how:
First, do not skimp on buying a good cut of meat. Consider a beef or pork roast, pork ribs or chicken thighs and legs. Boneless meats can be rolled by a butcher into a compact, evenly shaped cylinder; this will aid in even cooking.
Second, allow time for preparation and grilling. This means a roast must be allowed to marinate in the dry rub in the refrigerator for at least six to eight hours. Just apply the dry rub the night before you plan to grill.
You’ll also need a rotisserie kit tailored to your grill (gas or charcoal), a pair of gloves, a seasoned dry rub, a drip pan, clean kitchen pliers and a meat thermometer.
Churrasco meats often are simply seasoned with a good kosher salt, but a basic dry rub made of ground chile, salt, freshly ground black pepper and other spices will flavor the meat without overpowering it.
CHURRASCO-STYLE DRY RUB
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 tablespoons garlic powder)
2 tablespoons paprika
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cumin
Mix all spices together in a small bowl. Add brown sugar and mix thoroughly. Makes about one cup.
CHURRASCO-STYLE PORK ROAST
4- to 5-pound pork roast,
tied by butcher into a compact shape
1/3 to 1/2 cup oil
Rinse and pat dry pork roast. Place on a large platter. Put on a pair of thin kitchen gloves. Drizzle oil over the roast and spread equally all over the meat. Grab a handful of dry rub and begin working into the surface of the roast. Continue until the roast is thoroughly covered.
Cut some large pieces of plastic wrap in which to wrap the roast, or use a large resealable plastic bag. Allow the roast to marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
If you are cooking with gas, preheat the grill on high (at least 10 minutes, with cover down), then lower the jets on the outer edges of the grill to low and turn the middle jets off. Place a disposable drip pan under the spot where the meat will be turning
If you are cooking with charcoal, which is the traditional Brazilian way, prepare the coals for cooking with indirect heat. Pile the charcoal to the outsides of the grill or to one side. Place a disposable drip pan under the rotisserie. No charcoal should be placed under the meat.
Unwrap the roast and carefully skewer the meat on the middle of the rotisserie tool, using clean pliers to secure the screws. When the grill is ready, attach the rotisserie, start the motor and close the lid on the grill.
Check roast occasionally. Cooking time is approximately 20 minutes per pound for pork. Use a meat thermometer, being careful to avoid touching the rotisserie skewer, to determine whether the roast has reached 150 degrees Fahrenheit. When done, removed the rotisserie from the grill and allow the roast to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.