Carving meat off a skewer, removed from a grill, and shared communal style? That is a tradition that goes back to our earliest human cultures and shared around the world. It is, for all intents and purposes, the original way to barbeque a meal.
Even though this tradition of serving carved meat from skewer to plate touches virtually every culture around the world, it is Brazil that has laid claim to the method of grilling and food service. If you have ever traveled to a South American country, it is an exciting experience to be in an authentic steak house and has so many options (literally) walking around the restaurant, waiting to be carved with a sharp blade onto your plate.
Piping hot, juicy and tender meat. It’s a mouth-watering delicious thought, which is why the United States is seeing a surge of new Brazilian Steakhouse franchises and independently owned restaurants popping up from coast to coast.
In this article, we wanted to share a few insights about what it takes for a restaurant to create a side-menu of Brazilian style steak or a full-service South American steakhouse. We’ll talk about the quality of meat, marbling, and the preferred grilling methods, equipment, and other essentials for restaurant owners.
Start with the Right Selections of Meat for Brazilian Steak House Grilling and Table Service
Because our team at Miami Beef actually supplies many South American restaurants, hotels, and five-star entertainment venues, our family has traveled extensively through Brazil and other countries to explore how steak and chops are prepared in the traditional Churrascaria method.
One of the cultural aspects of dining in a Brazilian steakhouse is that it can be less formal and more intimate and personalized. Authentic Brazilian restaurants that service in the Churrascaria tradition are about communal dining; it’s about sharing a large amount of food with family and friends. And of course, it is also about the variety of meat that you can sample and dine on, in a Brazilian restaurant.
It is not just one type of steak, but many different seasonings and marinades, as well as other types of meat including poultry and pork. Spicy, sweet, savory? It’s all there to sample as the meat waiter goes from table to table, carving the sizzling hot meats onto the plate.
What kind of cuts of meat are most conducive to the Churrascaria or Brazilian Steakhouse style of tableside carving service? There are five authentic types of meat (including beef) that have different seasonings in the traditional grilling style.
This is the juiciest and most delicious cut (in our opinion) at an authentic Brazilian Steakhouse. The cut is a beef sirloin cap, which has a unique crescent shape of top sirloin. What makes it extra juicy and full of rich beef flavor? There is a ‘cap’ of fat on the top of each piece. As the meat grills, that fat naturally hydrates the meat to provide a tender and flavorful finish.
This cut is a more marbled sirloin, cut from the bottom, and resembles more the cuts of beef that are typically used in tacos and steak salads. What is nice about Fraldinha is that the marbleized fat also makes for a tender portion of meat, hot off the Brazilian grill and skewer.
For individuals who do not like the fatty flavors, the Maminha style of Brazilian beef is a little dryer, and virtually free of fat. It’s a red lean cut bottom sirloin. This kind of meat is generally served with a dipping sauce and may have a stronger flavor as the lean quality of the meat requires extra margination time and preparation.
This can be either a full leg of lamb, grilled in state, and carved tableside from the skewer, or it can be a large heavy sword of meat, comprised of layered tender lamb chops. In a Brazilian steakhouse, the lamb is typically prepared Latin or Italian style, which means heavy use of fresh garlic, pepper, salt, and olive oil marinade.
In some Brazilian steakhouse restaurants, the drippings from the Cordeiro are prepared into a rich and thick gravy, which is then served with crusty bread on the side with the carved meat, and a salad or grilled vegetables.
There is a lot of variety in the Linquka. It is always a pork sausage, but it can be a cured version and then grilled with spices like paprika and garlic, or it could be a mild fresh or smoked sausage. It can be carved onto the plate or served with rice and grilled vegetables.
Authentic side dishes that are served in Brazilian steakhouses include beans, rice, polenta, cinnamon fried bananas, Pão De Queijo, garlic mashed potatoes, hot crusty bread and rolls, and oil and vinaigrette-based salads.
And don’t forget to offer the national cocktail of Brazil to your menu; the caipirinha (kai-purr-REEN-yah). Get the recipe for the cocktail from The Spruce Eats. Remember that most authentic Brazilian steakhouse models include a Prix fix menu for ‘all you can eat’.
What Kind of Equipment Does a Restaurant Need to Offer Brazilian Style Steak?
Unless you plan to make your business model an exclusive Brazilian style steakhouse, there are easy ways to incorporate this style of dining with your current menu. Consider that for large groups, the Brazilian steakhouse experience or table service would be ideal. Also, if your restaurant provides onsite catering (or private dining rooms) it could be an exceptional experience for your customers and a strong new revenue source for your business.
A large-scale rotisserie is required that can accommodate the industrial skewers (both large or group sized portions and individual serving sizes). Unlike a standard chicken rotisserie, the Brazilian style indoor grilling unit will be open in the front to allow for full-length lateral grilling and turning of the spit skewers. Some high end commercial indoor rotisseries have automatic features to keep the skewers on rotation.
We’ve also seen smaller restaurants with countertop versions, offering Brazilian steakhouse-style menu options as weekly specials. It is possible to integrate it as a reserved menu item and test it with your customer base before investing in a large indoor grill.
If you enjoyed the insights, we’ve shared about Brazilian steakhouse menu items, methods, and tradition, we’d love to hear your comments. Email us at email@example.com or leave us a comment below.