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Brazilian Ingredients

I am writing a book about Brazilian cooking for an American audience. I live in Brazilan am having a hard time confirming if these ingredients would be easy for Americans to find. If anyone could help out. I'd like to know if you can find manioc flour; in this I mean the coarse flour used for making farofa. I am also looking for the manioc flour that is ground into powder (polvilho - azedo and doce) to make things like pão de queijo and biscoitos de polvilho.

I also wonder if the cut "picanha" is available. I think that it may be found in latino butcher shops by the name "tapa de cuadril". If anyone can give me a hand, thanks for the comments...

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  1. We can find manioc flour and Picanha. However, we live in the Boston area and there are very large populations of Brazilians in Framingham and Cambridge MA nearby.

    2 Replies
    1. re: emilief

      Emilief, could you tell me where to find the Picanha in Framingham? Thanks.

      1. re: orchidea

        orchidea this a really old thread and you might find it easier to get responses on the Boston board.

        The easiest place for you to buy picanha in Framingham would likely be Seabra market off of Waverly St south of the center. Keep in mind that Brazilian butchers in the US generally sell steaks with picanha and alcatra together which you can buy in small quantities. Seabra might have a price for picanha separate on its price list (Gol which was there before did), but most butchers are going to require you to purchase the whole piece. By the time you do that, it may run you the same price as picanha+alcatra and Seabra may have specials on the whole piece cryovac and you can also buy at as a cap-on top sirloin butt from a meat supplier or at restaurant depot.

        Some of the other options for a Brazilian butcher in Framingham include Fresh Beef Market on Hollis, there was an acougue on Howard (originally casa de carnes, but I thought it closed or change names??) Tesoro market on Hollis is not Brazilian, but does sell some Brazilian cuts and there might be another one on Hollis close to the car wash/gas station near the center, but I can't quite remember if there is one there or if I am just thinking of a hair salon. :-)

    2. There is a growning Brazilian population in the SF Bay Area. There are usually a few grocery shelves in Brazilian restaurants and travel agencies selling staples. So manioc flour is available. However, a mainstream market is unlikely to carry it.

      I do know thouhg that the manioc flour that is ground into powder (polvilho - azedo and doce) is NOT available to the average person. The reason I know this is because I was asking at a local restaurant if they made their own pão de queijo or if they were frozen. The restaurant said that they were frozen because that type of flour is not available in the Bay area.

      No, those cuts of meat would draw blanks locally. I shop at a number of local Latino markets and those names don't pop in mind. I could ask if you like, but I'm guessing it would be better to provide a US equivalent cut of meat.

      1. The one form of manioc that you can count on finding in just about any American supermarket is tapioca. But you can buy manioc flour online. For example: http://www.latinmerchant.com/productd...
        I don't know if this is the type of manioc flour you were talking about -- it was just the first thing I found via a Google search. If this isn't what you mean, I'm sure it's findable online somewhere. Fresh foods such as specific cuts of meat may be more difficult; in that case, you will probably want to research possible substitutions.

        Good luck with your project!

        1. Picanha is called "cap of rump" in the US and you'll have to go to a specialty butcher to get that particular muscle. Part of the rump roast includes the cap so that would be the closest match that's commonly available.

          3 Replies
          1. re: PorkButt

            hmm. i was always led to believe it was actually sirloin. lemme doublecheck with my friend who's A: a chef and B: Brazilian and C: loves meat (although that'd be redundant considering B).

            1. re: tuqueboy

              I think lombo or contrefile de lombo is the sirloin strip.

              1. re: PorkButt

                There are not exact equivalents in Brazilian and American butchery. The Sirloin (the whole big sirloin) is the picanha, the maminha and the alcatra cuts all together. Contra Filet is the rib (the rib side of the T-Bone is a contra filet steak). Lombo is a term not often used for beef. It is the contra filet of pork (the loin attached to the rib). American butchers do not cut the whole picanha. They cut across it to make top sirloin steaks. The Maminha is the tri-tip and the alcatra is a whole round up of various new york and other very fine sirloin steaks. Brazilian butchers butcher meat for you on the spot. You would rarely see styrofoam trays of meat precut and wrapped in plastic. Only very large supermarkets would offer ready cut meat as an option for convenience, but still have a butcher counter with butchers cutting to order. (Isn't Brazil great!).

          2. Have found manioc flour in a Brazilian market in Atlanta (Windy Hill exit off I-75). Sorry to go a bit off-topic, but do you have a recipe for the traditional (I think) chicken "stew" with hearts of palm? Can't remember the name and have misplaced the one I had.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dinner belle

              Just a reminder; if a helpful chowhound can answer dinner_belle's question, the answer belongs on our Home Cooking board, here: http://www.chowhound.com/boards/31 .

            2. I also live in an area with a large Brazilian population in NJ. Sadly, the Brazilian restaurants, buffets, and BBQs are not very popular with non-Brazilians. It may be because the cuts of meat are different than what we are familar with. Also, things may seem "strange." I recently went in one buffet style place and was the only American there and all the Brazilians just stared at me. No matter I wanted to try their radaba and costelinha assada (?). They did have picanha na chapa but I didnt try it so it must be available in their local grocery stores.

              1. Tapioca/Yuca flour and starch are pretty widely available. I found it easily in Appleton, WI, when I lived there and all the other larger cities I've lived in too--but much more often in southeast asian groceries than in Latin stores. Yuca starch (called almidón in Paraguay and readily available at thai and vietnamese groceries) works just fine for making chipa or paõ de queijo, though it is too fine for making farofa. There is a recipe for chipa on my blog if anyone is interested: http://dinner-bell.blogspot.com

                1. a lot of the manioc flour is used in "farofa," a side-dish / condiment. My daughter just got back from Brazil and got us all addicted to sprinkling it on beans and rice like you put cheese on spaghetti. Look for "farofa pronta" on a latin or brazilian online grocer. The "pronta" means it's ready to use right out of the bag. Just sprinkle it on your beans and rice, meat, whatever. You can also add water and make it into a grits-like side dish for meat. RE: picanha, we tried this too. Just get some sirloin cap, salt the hell out of it, grill it over a hot fire, and cut slices off the face. it will be good enough. Brazilians (in the South anyway) always have a bowl of rice and a bowl of beans in the fridge: instant lunch. We have gotten into this habit as well. In the USA, you sometimes find "gari" (fermented cassava meal) which is used for making "fufu," a West African dish. This looks a lot like farofa.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: che74

                    che74 since you are enjoying food from the South of Brazil, you should change your name to "tche" :-) When grilling season is over, put the coarse salt all over whole/half racks of beef ribs (enough to make a crust and only the super-coarse stuff) and roast them low in the oven (this is also done with a full picanha but it will dry out, if you can get cupim that would be a better candidate). When they are tender scrape the salt crust off and eat them with your farofa.

                    Since you are enjoying farofa, if your daughter goes back to Brazil again see if she can go (accompanied for safety) the Mercado Central or Feirinha (farmers market) and bring you back some "farinha da roca" or "farinha da fazenda" (these aren't actual names of farinha like "farinha d'agua" or "farinha seca", its just to distinguish the handmade variety from the commercial). Also its really easy to make your own farofa to accompany dishes (as opposed to sprinkling over beans), you can get some easy recipes using just fat, onion and carrot, sometimes a bit of water. Once you learn to make one farofa with the right amount of moistness, it carries over to more involved varieties (farofa de moela de galinha -- farofa made with gizzards and chicken hearts for instance, you braise those and then add them to a basic farofa seasoned with onion, salt, pepper, green onion & cilantro, and maybe a bit of stock).