Winter has come but that doesn’t stop me from grilling. I am a big fan of rodizio, the popular Brazilian endless meat parade of a meal. The grilling of meat over a flame has its origins in the colonial history of Portugal. The African countries that Portugal colonized have a long tradition of grilling meat, especially chicken, over an open flame. Piri piri chicken is a hallmark of that tradition. The Brazilians take that tradition to extreme heights with their endless grilled meat feast. Many Portuguese restaurants feature a sort of reduced rodizio in the form of churrasco misto or mixed BBQ grill. The dish features a limited amount of meat selections but usually contains chicken, beef, pork and sausages served with fries and rice. In my version I include all three of the popular proteins (Chicken, beef and pork) along with some sausages. I cheat a little on the sausages in that I buy Latin American sausages from Ecuador and Argentina. I like the small size and they are packed with flavor. You can use any meats (or even fish) you like and if you want to keep it purely Portuguese you can grill some chourico. A few things to remember when you prepare this dish: (1) brine the chicken so it doesn’t dry when you grill it. (2) Season the beef for at least 6 hours so it intensifies the flavor. (3) Marinate the pork belly overnight to infuse it with flavor. Picanha is also know as sirloin cap and comes from the top portion of the beef rump. It is available at ethnic supermarkets serving Latin American and Portuguese communities. It is important to not trim the fat on the picahna steaks. The fat layer adds flavor to the meat. If you have health concerns just cut it away when eating. If you cannot find it use flat iron steaks instead.
- 8 Chicken Drumsticks
- 8 pieces of ¼ inch sliced beef short rib (sirloin cap)
- 1 small piece of picanha (do not trim fat) cut into eight 1 inch steaks
- 4 thick slices of pork belly
- 4 Ecuadorian Sausages (or substitute with any garlicky sausage)
- 4 Argentinian Sausages (or substitute with any garlicky sausage)
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ brown sugar
- 1 cup Portuguese Seven Spice Powder
- 1 cup of wine
- 1 dry bay leaf crushed
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and grated
- ¼ cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup Massa de Pimentao
- In a small pot boil 3 cups of water then add the kosher salt, sugar and 1/3 cup of Portuguese Seven Spice Powder. Stir it well to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour into a container and let the mixture cool or alternatively add about 6 cups of ice. When the mixture is cool add the drumsticks and top off with water so that the drumsticks are completely submerged in the brine. Let is brine for 5 hours then remove the chicken and drain in a colander.
- In a large bowl combine 1/3 cup of Portuguese Seven Spice Powder, wine, bay leaf, garlic, hot sauce, olive oil and mass de pimentao and mix well. Place the pork belly inside and let marinate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of Portuguese Seven Spice Powder over the beef and set aside in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
- Set your inside oven to 250 degrees. Heat a gas or charcoal grill for indirect grilling (coals on one side and a cool place on the grill). Take the chicken and place on the hot side of the grill and let it get some color. After the chicken has browned a bit place on the cool side of the grill and cover. Let the chicken slowly cook until it registers at least 150 degrees. Set aside in the warm oven. The chicken will eventually reach 160 degrees (proper temperature to ensure safe eating)
- If using a gas grill turn on all burners. If using a charcoal grill spread the charcoals evenly so no cool zones remain. Grill the pork belly until it is cooked through. Remove and place in the warm oven with the chicken.
- Grill the sausages until they are heated through and cooked. Place in warm oven. Grill the beef to your level of doneness. Combine all the meats on a platter separating each type into its own section. Serve with French fries and rice.