The main appeal of this dish is in how it is prepared: besides making the meat extremely tender, by cooking it slow in a clay pot, sometimes for as long as 12 hours, the preparatin of this dish is like a real ritual. The name comes from the traditional “sealing dough”, made by mixing manioc flour and water, to hermetically seal the clay pot, which will be opened only when it’s time to serve.
In the Azores, where this dish was first created, the clay pot was buried in a pit oven, with the meat inside, for one whole day. The natural heat from the volcanic grounds cooked the dish!
The Barreado was brought to Paraná by Azorean immigrants about 300 years ago, they now relied on hot coals placed at the bottom of the pit oven instead of using the volcanic heat. Today, the recipe is more practical to make and is carried out with the convenience of a grill or wood stove. One characteristic that defines today’s Barreado is that it is still cooked in a clay pot.
The dish consists of one or more cuts of beef, lean but tougher cuts such as the palette, the bottom round and the sirloin tip, cooked with onions, garlic, pork bacon, black pepper, bay leaves and cumin then cooked until the meat completely falls apart. The preparation is mixed with cassava flour (so the sauce reaches the consistency that gives its name to the dish), and served with rice and plantain or banana slices. The way of serving may differ depending to the region of Açores, Brazil or Portugal where the dish is prepared. The other important secret is how long your recipe will simmer - sometimes up to 12 hours - enough for the meat to shred itself apart after staying on the fire all this time. Once cooked, the meat fibers are released resulting in a thick and tasty sauce.
Yield: 5-6 servings
* A Clay pot or Dutch oven.
* 5 lb. (2.26 kg.) Beef: shank, bottom round, rump or sirloin tip
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/2 tablespoon salt
* 4 tablespoons vinegar
* 3 big tomatoes, chopped
* 3 big onions, chopped
* 6 cloves garlic, pressed
* 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
* 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
* 2 bay leaves cut into pieces
* 1 lb. (450 g.) bacon diced into small cubes
* 1 cup water
* Wheat or cassava flour, and water, to seal the pan
* Bananas, as desired
1) Start preparing barreado the afternoon of the day before: prepare the meat, cut into cubes about one inch per side, put in a bowl, season with cumin, black pepper, salt, vinegar and set aside.
2) In another bowl, mix the tomatoes, the onions, the garlic, the parsley, chives, bay leaves and mix well. In the clay pot or a large Dutch oven with lid that closes tightly, alternate layers of meat, seasoning, bacon, spices, meat, spice, bacon, spices and so on.
Add the water, seal the pan with dough, made with flour and water; after let stand for 1 hour.
3) Simmer the pan in the oven at 275 ˚F (135 ˚C), simmer for about 4 hours (if you see any steam escape through some imperfection, use a little more dough to close all gaps), remove from heat and let the closed pot sit overnight.
4) The next day, put the clay pot back in the oven and continue cooking for 2 more hours. Remove the sealed lid of the clay pot with a blunt blade knife, shred the meat that still remains unshredded slightly before serving. Add banana slices on top of each portion.