Thursday, 20 February 2014

Farofa,a Brazilian bit on the side


With the double header of the World Cup going all Latin American and the 2016 Olympics in distant sight, over the next few months I am certain we will all be reading, eating, sleeping and breathing Brazilian food. Prepare yourself for Cassava, Empanadas and Caipirinhas galore.
The 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil this summer,so for sure we will all be bombarded with recipes, ingredients,flavour combinations and dishes from the region. Traditional Brazilian foods incorporating beans, cashews, peanuts, chillies, as well as meat marinades, are sure to hit menus, fast food outlets and our supermarket shelves in time for the big tournament.
Dishes such as Feijoada(a black bean and meat stew), Moqueca (fish stew), Vatapa (spicy, creamy fish dish cooked in peanut sauce), Empadão (hearty meat and vegetable pie), foods using cassava and desserts incorporating cinnamon, coconut and berries are all expected to become popular choices this summer.
While South American food in general has been increasing in popularity for quite  a while now, 2014 is set to really put Brazilian food on the map. With the eyes of the sporting world focused on Portuguese speaking South America expect to see an increased number of manufacturers launching Brazilian-themed variants.In particular because of the time of year, products catering for barbecue style food are sure to be top of the list. Rodizio restaurants will become increasingly popular for football trencherman appetites.My favorite Brazilian dish has to be Feijoada.It is a much served favourite here at Casa Rosada, but  I am always in a  quandary as to what to serve with it. Here is the answer.The Portuguese brought Feijoada to South America but it was Brazil who gave it its partner, a side dish called farofa.
Farofa is the term for a side dish using toasted farinha de mandioca, (manioc flour) which is a dried flour similar in looks and texture to breadcrumbs, made from yucca. The making of farofa as a dish couldn't be easier. It is plain manioc flour toasted in butter. A few of the classic farofa dishes include eggs and scallions, eggs and bacon, banana, bell peppers, green beans and carrots, peas and corn, and so on and so forth. Farofa can be extremely dry, since the manioc flour immediately sucks up all the juices from anything it encounters, especially when it's served plain. The trick to making a moist farofa is to use a small amount of manioc flour in proportion to the other components, turning a side dish into a savory accompaniment that is so tempting, you may even forget there is a main course.


My favourite farofa
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups manioc flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on a bias
1 small red onion diced
100g (about 5 slices) of Toucinho, bacon or pancetta cut finely into dice
1 cup frozen peas
Flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the manioc flour and toast it to a light golden colour, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly, otherwise the flour will burn. Set aside.
In a nonstick skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat, and cook the scallions and red onion until they just start to soften. Save a few slices of scallion for garnish.Add the diced bacon,the peas, and continue cooking until the bacon has got a good colour but is not crispy, the onions are fully softened and the peas are cooked.Add the toasted flour and stir well with the onions and bacon to combine.
Pantry tips
Farofa makes a great gluten-free alternative to couscous; 
Farinha de mandioca turns any combination of leftover vegetables (and meats) into a complete meal
The root of the manioc (cassava) plant is commonly sold as a very fine starch (almidón), often called tapioca flour. But to make farofa, you need manioc flour that is coarsely ground, with a texture like farina cereal. You can find manioc flour in Brazilian markets or online.
Watch out for more Brazilian recipes Pelé would be proud of, appearing on the blog closer to the World Cup!





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