On August the 5th the eyes of the world will turn to Brazil and the 2016 Olympic Games. Already this year Brazil fever has started to sweep the UK, with the public’s imagination captured by the colours, music and tastes of the vibrant country. Bringing a little South American spice to your restaurant this summer is a great way to tap into this feeling, and can help grow interest in your offerings, and ultimately increase footfall. From Latin American inspired menu additions, to novel new ways of serving, we’ve put together a few tips to help restaurants, pubs, and hotels maximise the potential benefits that this summer’s Olympics could bring.
Barbecue Brazilian style
Although Barbeques are big all over South America, Brazil has taken the simple combination of seasoned meat and high heat and turned it into something of its own. The Brazilian approach to barbecuing involves incredible quantities of meat seasoned liberally with a mix of herbs and spices, which is then grilled over charcoal and sliced right onto the diner’s plate by the waiter. A sure-fire hit with diners of all tastes, adding a barbecue element to your menu brings a touch of summer while capturing the essence of Brazilian food. If you don’t have the facilities for an actual barbeque, you can still capture the feeling by using a high temperature griddle pan to give a smoky flavour, and dazzling your diners by slicing their meat at the table, a la Rio de Janeiro.
Go wild with ingredients
The great thing about Brazilian food is the fact that there is no one fixed ‘national dish’; whilst some foods will be popular in one region, they’ll be unheard of in another. Common ingredients used throughout the country are chilli, lime, and black beans, and whilst fish is preferred in the northern states, meat is more common in the south. Most meals usually come with rice, although potatoes are often served at celebrations and on special occasions. The sheer variety of ingredients and variations means that you have free reign over your ‘Brazilian’ menu; you can choose to create whole new dishes, or just add some Brazilian flavours to existing menu items.
Embrace the buffet
If you have the means to do so, a great spin on the normal menu is the Brazilian ‘rodízio’. Diners arrive and pay a set fee, and the waiter will bring samples of different foodstuffs, usually cuts of different meats, until the diner signals they are full. Diners are provided with coloured cards, which can be flipped to either show red or green, indicating if they would like another serving. A great way to make the most of this dining tradition would be to put on a special rodízio night, and promote the event in the local community, which would perfectly tie in to the Olympics while providing an exciting event for your customers.
Bottle the atmosphere
Brazil is all about bold colours and lively visuals. Capture the spirit of the Rio Carnival with an exciting, eye catching menu and colourful interior decorations. The Brazilian flag is iconic in itself, and the blue/green/yellow makes for an eye catching and instantly recognisable colour scheme, which indicates immediately to your diners that your menu is current, fresh and exciting. Samba music is a great way to instantly bring Brazilian energy into your pub or restaurant, too.
Stew up a storm
Stews are a local favourite over in Brazil, and can be found being served up in restaurants, bars, in the home, and on the street. As most Brazilian stews contain readily available and inexpensive ingredients, they’re an easy option for locations looking for fresh and exotic menu additions without the hassle or cost. A stew called Moqueca is popular in the south east of the country, and at its most simple consists of fish or seafood stewed with diced tomatoes, coriander, and onions.
Elsewhere feijoada is more common, a slow cooked casserole of black beans, chorizo, and tough cuts of pork that benefit from a lengthy cooking time. As feijoada traditionally takes hours and a lot of prep to put together, we’ve created a simplified version below, cutting the cooking time without scrimping on flavour. Our black bean stew is topped with wedges, but these could just as easily be served as an accompaniment, or or offered topped with the stew as a starter or side option.
McCain Brazilian Black Bean Stew
For the stew:
25ml sunflower oil
220g reduced fat and salt sausage chopped
280g chopped cooked ham
2 medium onions diced
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 red pepper diced
800g tinned chopped tomatoes
800g tinned black beans rinsed and drained
2 mangos peeled stone removed and diced
50g fresh coriander
For the wedges:
1.5kg McCain Simply Potato Wedges
50ml sunflower oil
1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, cook the sausages and ham for 5 minutes. Place the onion in the pan and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic and cook until tender, mix in the red pepper, tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in the beans into the pot, and cook uncovered until heated through. Mix in the mango and coriander.
3. In a separate bowl empty the McCain Simply Potato Wedges into a bowl add the oil and paprika and mix until the potatoes are evenly coated with the seasoning and oil.
4. Transfer the stew mixture into a large oven able dish (gastronome tray preferable) top the stew with the seasoned wedges and bake for 25 minutes in a preheated oven at 200oC or until the potatoes are golden brown.