What is Brazilian BBQ called?
Brazilian BBQ style is an exceptional way (the best in my opinion) to enjoy the real flavors of good meat. It happens because our BBQ technique was developed over the years to enhance the true aromas of meat slowly roasted over the fire, preserving as much as possible the juiciness and flavors of the fat and the tenderness and texture of the protein.
The Brazilian BBQ is called Churrasco, an important tradition in the country. This BBQ technique was created by cowboys in the South of Brazil in the 1800s. The cooking style is pretty simple and involves slow cooking big chunks of meat over the fire with light seasoning (usually salt only).
This technique is super traditional here in Brazil, but it’s also gaining the world through Brazilian Steakhouses, a kind of restaurant that brings together the best things of the Brazilian BBQ: great meat served straight from the grill in an all-you-can-eat style, not to the mention our amazing “Picanha”. To understand all about in the words of a Brazilian, read on.
Brazilian BBQ: The Origins Of “Churrasco”
I know that I’ve been saying it a lot in the past articles, but I’m going to say it again: Brazilian BBQ, or in my mother tongue, “Churrasco”, is one of my favorite things in Brazil. It’s my favorite meal on weekends and making a good “churrasco” it’s a tradition that it’s in the roots of my family. I’m born and raised in the South of the country, the region where Brazilian BBQ was invented. To make things easier and to help you to remember how Brazilian BBQ is called, from now on I only refer to it as “Churrasco”.
Well, the first versions of churrasco surged in the South of Brazil, back in the 1800s. This roasting style was not something invented intentionally by a chef or as a food for special occasions. It appeared as most things in the past: as a solution for a problem. The gauchos, cowboys from the South region of Brazil, used to work moving cattle from city to city in travels that sometimes could take weeks or months. In a time that there were no refrigerators and no processed food that could be conserved for long periods. The solution to having something to eat when moving cattle was obvious: eat from its own product.
The first versions of churrasco, I confess, don’t sound so delicious. The cowboys used to eat fresh slices of meat seasoned with ashes and grilled on the ground by the heat of the ember. But the technique was transformed and evolved to something surprisingly similar to what we have today (2 centuries after) when they started to observe and learn how to cook with indigenous people.
Indigenous tribes from the region showed the cattle workers that were possible to salt and preserve the meat for longer periods of time by caring it over the shoulders of the horses. This way the sweat of the animal (full of minerals and sodium) would salt the meat, adding some season (I know, it’s kind of gross) and preserving it. With the meat salted and ready to cook, it was only a matter of putting the chunks of meat in a skewer made of wood and put it over the fire.
This super simple way to roast meat is the origin of churrasco, and, as I said before, this technique is pretty much the same until today. The only (and super important) difference is that we don’t use sweat but good quality salt to season the cuts. There are different versions of churrasco, but all of them kind of respect the same bases: good cuts of meat, salt, and fire.
Churrasco: An Important Brazilian Tradition
More than just understanding the historical context, it’s good for you to notice that churrasco is not just a meal for Brazilians: it’s an important tradition. The same way that Italians have their incredible dishes that involve a lot more than “just” a plate of pasta or a good lasagna, as time passed churrasco stopped being the cattle worker food and became a moment for family and friends.
While the men would butcher, prepare and season large cuts of meat to roast over the fire, the women and children would prepare side dishes and desserts. It’s a beautiful moment of hospitality, the perfect occasion to bring people to your home, either to celebrate life, watch a game, have fun, or just as a great excuse to drink lots of beer and get drunk with your friends (that’s my favorite).
As the blog Flavors of Brazil once said, “churrasco can mean simply “grilled meat” but it more commonly means a prolonged weekend meal for family and friends consisting of several portions of meat grilled over wood or charcoal, outdoors, accompanied by numerous appetizers and canapes, side dishes, relishes and pickles, and lots and lots of icy Brazilian lager-style beer.”
This is how it goes down here in my beloved country. Especially for me, churrasco is very important. It’s been part of my life since I was born. I’m from the South region of the country, where the tradition started. In the city that I live, fathers start to teach their kids how to prepare a good Brazilian BBQ from a very young age. I started at 6 and intend to do the same with my kids in the future.
Brazilian Steakhouses Are Gaining The World
Brazilian Steakhouses (Churascarias Brasileiras) are a type of restaurant that is common in Brazil and it’s so good that started to gain the world after tourists from other places started to visit the country and fell in love with a good churrasco. This type of steakhouse is specialized in serving churrasco and has a very different service style that is honestly the best way to enjoy different delicious cuts of meat.
A legit Brazilian steakhouse works in an all-you-can-eat style that gives clients a complete gastronomical experience. Once you enter the Brazilian steakhouse, you’ll see a gigantic buffet at the center of the saloon with plenty of food options: salads, side dishes, Brazilian food, and even Japanese and Italian food. The buffet itself would be an excellent restaurant, but there’s more.
You’ll serve yourself and maybe be surprised by the fact that there’s no churrasco in the buffet, but there’s a great reason for it: in the Rodízio-style Brazilian Steakhouses, you’ll find a color card on your table with the colors green and red. As long as you keep the card on the green, you’ll continuously receive different cuts of meat straight from the skewers to your plate.
After slowly roasting the meat, the waiters take the skewer to the table with the big chunks of meat on it and serve our guests straight from the good stuff. The experience is great because you pay a fixed price to try different (unlimited) cuts of meat and excellent side dishes and desserts that are served in the buffet. It’s all-you-can-eat fashion in the best way possible.
What Is Barbecue Called In Brazil?
The Brazilian steakhouses started to gain the world in the past decades presenting the amazing Brazilian BBQ style and its special cuts to a whole new public. This style is super simple (and tasty) and has a super cool name in Brazil.
Barbecue is called Churrasco in Brazil. Churrasco is a Brazilian BBQ style that is basically roasting steaks or chunks of meat with light seasoning (usually salt only) over the fire. The technique highlights the true flavors of the meat with its juices and fat. It’s super tasty and tender.
The word “churrasco” has its origins in the Spanish word “SOCARRAR”, which means “scorch, burn”. From the Basque “SUKARRA”, which in turn designates something that is “on fire or burning”. But for most Brazilians, the meaning is simpler: churrasco means great meat made over the fire.
What Are The Servers Called At A Brazilian Steakhouse?
Brazilian steakhouses are always a great gastronomical experience (maybe except for vegans), so if you’re vising Brazil or in a big city anywhere in the world there’s a good chance you can find a good place to eat “churrasco”. If you’re in Brazil and want to know to call the servers, I’ll tell you how.
As a general rule, the servers are called “garçons” at Brazilian steakhouses. “Garçom” is the Portuguese word for waiter and “Garçonete” is how you call a waitress. Brazilian waiters are friendly and they are not used to received tips in Brazil despite offering a great service, so tip them well.
In Brazilian steakhouses, waiters are always walking all around the saloon with big skewers serving all kinds of cuts of meat (Picanha is a must-try). So knowing how to call them is good, but not necessary for enjoying the experience. In case of need, just raise your hand and they will serve you as soon as possible.
What Type Of Meat Is Churrasco?
Brazilian BBQ is getting famous around the world and making the word “churrasco” more and more associated with great meat and a lot of flavors. But what type of meat is churrasco?
Churrasco is not a type of meat itself, it’s a Brazilian barbecue technique that involves roasting meat over the fire, in a grill or skewer, with a light seasoning. Different from American BBQ, a legit Brazilian churrasco rarely involves sauces or smoking meat for long periods of time.
Despite churrasco not being defined by a unique type of meat, the most famous cut of meat traditionally used in Brazil is the Picanha. It’s incredible, but it can be hard to find outside of Brazil. In English, it can be found as Rump Cap, Top Sirloin Cap, or even Rump Cover. To learn all about Picanha, check this incredible article: What Is Picanha? All About The Famous Brazilian Meat.
What Do You Serve At Brazilian BBQ?
Called churrasco in Brazil, the Brazilian barbecue style is one of the best ways to prepare meat. Even so, a lot of people don’t know exactly what to serve as side dishes in a legit Brazilian BBQ.
As a general rule, the best things to serve at Brazilian BBQ are Farofa (a crunchy, toasted yuca flour with other ingredients like diced bacon, sliced sausages, garlic, and a whole bunch of condiments), Rice, Vinaigrette. Also, Brazilian BBQ is not complete without beer and Caipirinha to drink.
These side dishes are great because they complement roasted meat very well with different textures and flavors. Especially Farofa, which brings it crunchy and flavor, and Vinaigrette, which adds a delicious layer of acidity. To learn all about Farofa, check this incredible article: What Is Farofa? The Most Popular Brazilian Side Dish.
How Do You Eat Brazilian BBQ?
Eating Brazilian BBQ is my favorite thing literally every Sunday when I’m in Brazil. It’s a family tradition and one of the most delicious Brazilian foods. There’s no rule on how to eat Brazilian BBQ, but I’ll tell you how a legit Sunday “Churrasco” is in my house.
As a general rule, a great way to eat Brazilian BBQ, the famous Churrasco, is a medium-rare to medium-well meat prepared with salt over the fire as the main dish. As side dishes, the best options are Farofa, Rice, and Vinaigrette. The best drinks to have with Brazilian BBQ are beer and Caipirinha.
Brazilian BBQ: What Is Brazilian Barbecue? (You Should Try It Today)
Picanha Guide: What Is Picanha? All About The Famous Brazilian Meat
Caipirinha Guide: What Is Caipirinha? All About The Famous Brazilian Drink