As I mentioned before, a way to truly understand a culture is through experiencing its food. I have had the opportunity to learn many wonderful recipes throughout my travels. All of which, I use in my daily life and for entertaining.
Although I did not spend as much time in Brazil as I have in other countries, I have been surrounded by the Brazilian culture for going on ten years. During that time, I have learned Portuguese (ok Portanol – the Portuguese version of Spanglish) as well as to sing many of Jobim’s Bossa Novas. However, I do have to be honest, I have not yet mastered the Samba.
As Brazil’s culture and cuisine is very vast, I will only highlight my favorite dish that seems to be a crowd pleaser for potlucks as well as a great way to use left over chicken. So check out this sweet, salty, refreshing Brazilian Chicken Salad called Salpicão de Galinha.
½ lb of shredded chicken (typically it is seasoned with a garlic and salt paste called tempero which is easily prepared in a mortal and pestle) **Hint you may use left over chicken or buy already roasted chicken.
1 apple diced (green apples work the best with a touch of orange juice to prevent browning)
1 can of sweet corn (drained)
1/3 cup of raisins (add more if you like the dish sweeter)
1/3 cup of sliced green olives (add more if you like the dish more salty)
1½ cup of shredded carrots (blanched)
Small can of shoestring potatoes
Small container of non-fat plain yogurt (if you like everything creamier or a heavier texture you may use mayo; however, if you like things zingy use Greek yogurt.)
1) Season and cook the chicken with a heavy rub of the fresh garlic and salt paste (tempero). Let the chicken cool. After it is room temperature or comfortable to touch, pull the chicken with a fork or hands to create thin, shredded pieces. Place the pulled chicken in a medium to large mixing bowl.
2) Boil water to blanch the carrots while you dice 1 green apple. Cover the diced apple with a little orange juice or similar to prevent browning. Then, place the apples in the bowl.
3) Drain and empty one can of sweet corn into the mixture. Then, add the raisins and olives.
4) Once the water is boiling, add the carrots for 1-2 minutes. They will become livelier in color. Remove the carrots from the heat. Drain them and run cold water over the top to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, add the carrots to the mixture. At this point all ingredients have been added except the yogurt and shoestring potatoes.
5) Add a tablespoon of yogurt at a time to the mixture while stirring until the entire salad has a light coating of the yogurt. After mixing in the yogurt, chill the salad for at least an hour, but it’s even better after a couple hours or overnight.
6) When ready to serve, take the salad out of the refrigerator and top with the shoestring potatoes (the amount is up to your discretion).
**Alterations: You may add diced ham to this mixture and even green peas to make it more colorful, but the important combination is the play on the salty and sweet flavors. There needs to be that concoction for the salad to be interesting. With that said, eyeball the raisins and olives and add more if you like it more one way or the other.
Long after the travels are over, the recipes still remain.
They are some of the best lembranças (souvenirs)!!!