Northwest Indiana Times

By: Eloise Maria Valadez

Diners interested in the gaucho style of cooking can occasionally step behind-the-scenes at Texas de Brazil in Chicago. The churrascaria, or Brazilian steakhouse, where large portions of meat star, recently opened its door to food lovers for a fascinating cooking class. (Future classes will be scheduled soon). Texas de Brazil, a 700-seat restaurant featuring a menu of slow-roasted meats served on skewers, a selection of more than 70 salads and hot and cold appetizers as well as a sushi bar and assorted desserts, debuted in Chicago in mid-2008. The eatery also stars wine aerialists who retrieve bottles while performing in Cirque du Soleil fashion with grace and style. “The cooking class was so popular we had to open two extra sessions,” said Isabel Correa, the restaurant’s event manager. During a recent interview with The Times, Correa and Texas de Brazil’s executive chef Adriane Schalins outlined class highlights, offered cooking tips and recipes. While Schalins presided over this interview/media mini class, Correa said the eatery’s new schedule of courses ordinarily features instruction by Texas de Brazil’s culinary director Evandro Caregnato along with Schalins. Classes take place on the eatery’s second floor and include a tour of the restaurant, its grill area and kitchen.

While walking through the grill, large cuts of meat, including the house special picanha (top sirloin); lamb; and Brazilian sausage, sizzled over an open fire with charcoal. “Most of the meats are seasoned with sea salt and marinated overnight,” Schalins said. Some are also marinated with garlic. Depending on how diners desire their meat, the picanha stays on the grill for 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare to rare; 15 minutes for medium and 20 to 25 minutes for well done. Chicken and leg of lamb cooks for 30 to 35 minutes while ribs slow roast for about 6 hours. The restaurant’s grill is cranked up to 1,500 degrees and can be higher depending on how much charcoal is used. The chef said all class attendees learn to make the special chimichuri sauce, a blend of herbs and seasonings, which is served over various meats. “What people most want to learn about are the meats,” Schalins said, adding attendees get excited when walking through the grill area. They are instructed on basic techniques, cooking times and temperatures. Chef Schalins’ husband Gilberto Lucian, who has been trained in the Brazilian gaucho way of cooking, presides over the grill at the restaurant. “He’s well trained and knows just by looking at the meat that it’s done,” Schalins said. In addition to learning about meat preparation, students are schooled in making the traditional Brazilian caipirinha drink featuring lime, sugar cane syrup and cachaca as well as fried bananas and papaya cream, a mousse-like dessert.

Classes currently are demonstration-oriented but Correa said future courses will be slightly different. “We plan to make it more interactive,” she said. Also during the interview, Schalins whipped up the eatery’s signature papaya cream, stressing the preparation process was quick and easy. After slicing fresh aromatic papaya and removing seeds and membrane, the chef placed the fruit, vanilla ice cream and condensed milk into a blender and let it pulse for a few minutes. Once the mixture was transformed into a creamy consistency, Schalins added a few splashes of Creme de Cassis on top. The chef said the sweetness of the dessert can easily be adjusted by adding more or less condensed milk. All classes include samples of items prepared and the entire experience is completed with a taste of the sweet papaya goodie, which is the perfect ending to the unique cooking adventure. Interested foodies wanting to learn more about the sizzling Brazilian method of cooking can call the restaurant or visit its website for a schedule of future classes. FYI: Texas de Brazil is at 51 E. Ohio St., Chicago, (312) 670-1006 or texasdebrazil.com

Try your hand at these recipes from Texas de Brazil. Chimichuri Sauce 1 cup fresh chopped parsley 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro 2 tablespoons dry oregano 2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 tablespoon red crushed pepper 2 tablespoons kosher salt 1/2 cup lemon juice 1 1/2 cup of canola oil Directions: Combine the dry ingredients in a glass bowl; add the lemon juice and the oil, mix well. Refrigerate and taste will intensify after one or two days. It can be kept in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. Stir the sauce before serving. Papaya Cream 2 cups chopped fresh and ripe papaya, seeds and white membrane removed 2 cups good quality vanilla ice cream, slightly softened 2 ounces condensed milk Creme de Cassis Directions: Using a large blender, combine the condensed milk, papaya and ice cream. Turn the blender on and work until all the ingredients are blended and smooth. Depending on the blender you may need to turn it off and scrape the sides halfway through the process to help the ingredients to mix thoroughly. Serve in a parfait or sundae glass with a splash of Creme de Cassis on top.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010