Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fire Roasted Potatoes and Chilies

The "meat on a stick" concept was developed by the Michelin 3-star chef "Ogg" when he impaled a side of stegosaurus on his spear and grilled it over the newest (at the time) Ron Popeil cooking device - FIRE.
The Brazilian version of "meat on a stick" is the impressive Churrascaria style restaurant where everything is served directly at your table from ginormous skewers. I first learned about these from Steven Raichlen's Planet Barbecue and I was intrigued by the concept. But Brazieros Churrascaria opened recently in Knoxville and Alexis and I were finally able to dine there last night.

The place was PACKED but surprisingly, we did not have to wait and got seated immediately right by the fire place on this cool night. The concept is simple. You pay one fixed price for the meal and there is no menu. You start with a high quality salad bar, probably the best I've seen in Knoxville. Then they bring divine cheese rolls (more like puffs, they are angelic) and 3 sides (plantains, fried polenta, and mashed potatoes). Next, each dinner has a little card like this:

When you flip it to green, the meat party starts. A constant barrage of chefs armed with skewers...actually more like SWORDS of 12 cuts of meats offer you service. They thinly slice off pieces of large cuts of meat and you use little tongs to pull it onto your plate. You can fend them off by flipping your card back to red until you're ready to eat again. I made it through 6 of the 12 offerings.

I will do a full review later with pictures after our next visit. But it was a meat eaters paradise and a very unique dining experience. Quite fun and first class service. It reminded me of the first time I ever ate at a teppanyaki style Japanese restaurant, a total departure of what you are used to.

So I woke up this morning and what was I craving? More Brazilian beef of course! So the menu is:

Beef Ribs with an Espresso/Chile Rub
Fire Roasted Potatoes & Chilies
Rotisserie Grilled Onions
Brazilian Cheese Bread
I've done beef ribs a kazillion times, so I won't detail it. I used Adam Perry Lang's method from BBQ25 (great book!) but to make it a little more South American, I substituted some of the loot I won from Marx Foods. I used Espresso sea salt (great beefy flavor) and ground up some dried aji and pasilla chilies.

Alexis made the Brazilian cheese bread came straight from Steph over at Plain Chicken. We didn't have tapioca flour and it definitely made a difference. Ours didn't puff up.

The rotisserie grilled onions are a Brazilian recipe from Planet Barbecue! How do I use a rotisserie on the Big Green Egg? It's simple. I roll out my old Brinkmann charcoal grill!

I spit roasted large sweet onions (roots, peels, and all) over a 3/4 chimney load of briquettes for an hour.

Then cut off the tops, brush off the loose skin, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. How easy is that?

Fire Roasted Potatoes and Chilies
Source: NibbleMeThis

3-4 large red bliss potatoes, peeled and diced into 1" pieces
1/4 cup oil (something with a high smoke point)
4 large cloves garlic - peeled but whole
1 dried aji chile pepper, reconstituted and diced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt

Parboil the potatoes for one minute. (I promise, it makes a difference.)

Preheat a cast iron dutch oven in indirect heat on grill (or oven) at 400-425f. Add the oil and wait 1-2 minutes.

Add the potatoes and garlic and season with salt and chili powder. Let cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.

Stir and allow to cook another 10 minutes.

Stir, add the chilies and cook 10 more minutes. (I put them in at the beginning, which was too long, they'll be better near the end.)

Garnish with chives.
Despite the cheese bread not "rising to the occasion" (again, bad substitution), it was an excellent late lunch or early dinner. The ribs had a nice mild heat and layered taste. The onions were tender and sweet. The potatoes were crispy on the outside but soft beneath the crust.

Have you ever eaten at a Brazilian steakhouse? What is your favorite "meat on a stick"?