30 November 2012

Another homage to Brazil

The last night I was in Brazil, I was entreated to a night at the local Samba bar, which I was assured was a "very Brazilian experience".  The band was very loud and people were boisterous, not so different from a good bar at home.  But Samba music is for carnival, which would be sort of like partying in New Orleans, and interestingly, although the dance floor was a reasonable size, many people chose to merely stand up behind their chairs and dance, thereby maintaining conversation with their table mates. I can't universalize this experience since it was the only Samba bar I visited, but I describe it to you because it effected the atmosphere; dancing was not cordoned off to an appropriate place, it was everywhere!  And therefore the dance floor sort of came to us, whether we were standing or sitting.

Buckets of that weak, weak beer were kept full at all times throughout the bar, and at some point a large sizzling platter (think fajitas) arrived on the table filled with meat, veggies, and cheese, with a little crusty garlic bread on the side.  Everyone took nibbles between sweat-inducing dances and still felt full of energy at 2am when we left! I tried out this recreation on my meat-loving family when they visited last week and it was a hit.  We probably could have stood some exercise afterward, though...

Brazilian Sizzling Plate

Serves 6

For the meat:
2.5-3 lb. flank steak or similar cut
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon mustard
2 shallots, finely minced
other ingredients:
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, cubed, and boiled until al dente
4 white potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled until al dente
3 bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
4 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
salt to taste
8 oz. shredded or thinly sliced cheese of your choice (I used Irish cheddar), optional

Grill the meat outside: The night before you make this, combine steak and all marinade ingredients thoroughly in a gallon zip-top bag.  Refrigerate overnight and turn occasionally.  Grill over hot coals 3-4 inches from the heat; cook 4 minutes on each side for mid-rare or longer if you want the meat more done (it will cook a little more on the grill pan). Cover in foil to keep warm while you...

Toss the veggies with a little bit of olive oil and salt.  On a well-oiled grill pan inside, cook everything until it chars (if you have to do it in shifts, just keep what's been cooked on a baking sheet in the oven at 250 F so it stays warm).  Slice the grilled meat into thin strips and toss with all of the veggies on the grill pan (add anything that's been sitting in the oven).  Sprinkle cheese on top and cover with a large heat-proof bowl; cook just until cheese is melted.

Plop the grill pan on the table, serve with crusty white bread, hot sauces, and forks.  Plates optional.