Citizens, today I give you a truly delicious recipe from Brazil with a fascinating Royal pedigree!
Coxinha is a popular street food in Brazil, consisting of a filling made with chopped or shredded chicken meat, covered in dough, molded into a shape resembling a chicken leg or a teardrop, then battered and fried.
Specifically, the coxinha is made with dough made from wheat flour and chicken broth and optionally mashed potato, which is filled with shredded spiced chicken meat.
The filling consists of chicken, and onions, parsley and scallions, and occasionally tomato sauce, turmeric and catupiry cheese. The coxinha is coated in batter, then in bread crumbs or manioc flour and deep fried.
It is shaped to roughly resemble a chicken leg. The dough used to coat the filling is generally prepared with the broth of the chicken, enhancing the flavor of the coating.
As noted in a fascinating blog post on flavorsofbrazil.blogspot.com, there is a remarkable story associated with this dish:
With that in mind, perhaps you might enjoy this possibly apocryphal fairy-tale story of how the coxinha was invented in Brazil more than one hundred years ago. We learned the tale in a recent issue of Brazilian magazine Gula, which incidentally featured a number of articles on the coxinha. The story goes something like this:
One upon a time (actually toward the end of the 19th Century) in the small city of Limeira, Brazil, lived a princess named Isabel. She was normally called simply Princess Isabel, though her real name was Princess Imperial Isabel Cristina Leopoldina Augusta Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga.
She was their heir to the Brazilian throne, and was married to a European count, Gaston d’Orléans, Count of Eu. The couple lived on an estate called Morro Azul (Blue Hill) in this small town.
The count and the princess had four sons. One of the boys was kept out of public view, as he suffered from mental illness.
This young prince refused to eat anything other than chicken thighs (coxa is the Portuguese word for thigh, and coxinha means “little thigh.”) , Because he was a prince, the boy’s strange dietary habits were indulged and the cook of the estate prepared chicken thighs daily for him.
One fine day, the cook found that she didn’t have any chicken thighs for the boy, though there was plenty of chicken meat left over from the previous day’s feast. In desperation, she shredded some left-over chicken meat, wrapped it in a ball of dough and then shaped the dough into the form of a chicken thigh.
She breaded the concoction and fried it, then presented it to the young prince. She told him that it was a special little thigh (coxinha) fit only for a prince. He so loved the treat that from that day forward his diet changed from real chicken thighs to his cook’s coxinha. He would eat nothing else.
Soon, other family members began to demand these coxinhas, and word spread throughout Limeira about the cook’s marvelous invention. The fame of the coxinha grew and grew, and eventually its fame and its recipe traveled all throughout the country. And everyone lived happily every after (while snacking on coxinhas, of course).
My version of Coxinha is resolutely traditional and supremely delicious – be sure and serve it with an artisinal hot sauce and plenty of beer, as they do on the streets of Rio! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
The Hirshon Coxinha
1 ½ lb pounds chicken breasts
1 large peeled potato
2 bay leaves
8 cups of chicken broth
1 medium carrot, grated
1 onion, finely diced
¼ cup parsley, minced
3 scallions, minced
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Juice of 1 lime
10 ounces of cream cheese, softened – preferably Brazilian Catupiry
1 tablespoon Bell’s Poultry Seasoning
For the dough:
The previously cooked potato
2 ½ cups of the previously used chicken broth
2 Tbsp salted butter
2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups of very finely grated bread crumbs
Bowl of ice water
A 50/50 blend of Dende oil and olive oil for frying – buy Dende oil at Amazon here or use all olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the chicken and the potato in the chicken stock with the bay leaves. Once the potato and the chicken are fork tender, take them out and reserve 2.5 cups of the broth for the dough. Use the remainder of the stock for another recipe.
Mash the potato and reserve.
In a food processor, process the chicken to a paste with the lime juice into shreds or a rough paste, as you prefer. Reserve.
Bring the 2 ½ cups of broth back to the pot and add the mashed potatoes and the butter. When it boils, add the flour a little at a time, stirring constantly, until it forms a dough.
Knead the dough while it’s still warm, until silky and smooth.
To make the filling, sauté the onions, scallions, carrot and garlic until translucent in the butter and then add the chicken, poultry seasoning and the parsley. Mix everything together and season with salt and pepper.
Add the cream cheese and cook until the cream cheese is melted and everything is incorporated. You can add this mixture back into the food processor for a final purée if you want a smoother consistency – it’s your call.
To make your coxinhas, take a little piece of the dough and form a ping pong-sized ball. Flatten it into a disc, hollowing up the middle for the filling.
Spoon a tablespoon of the filling into the middle of dough.
Press the dough closed around the filling, shaping it like a teardrop.
Continue until you run out of dough.
To coat your coxinhas with breadcrumbs, first wet one of your hands with the ice water and wet the coxinha. Then, coat the coxinha with breadcrumbs flavored with salt and pepper to taste. Set it aside on a baking sheet and continue to coat all your coxinhas.
Once they are all coated, put them in the fridge for 1 hour to chill.
Fill a saucepan with enough oil to cover the coxinhas.
Heat the oil to 320 degrees Fahrenheit and fry your coxinhas in batches, until they’re golden brown.
Place the fried coxinhas on a plate covered with paper towels so the paper towels absorb the excess of oil. Allow the oil to return to temperature before adding the next batch of coxinhas.
Serve the coxinhas warm with hot sauce, accompanied by ice cold beer.