Churrasco is the Portuguese term that refers to grilled meats or barbecue. Churrasco is a characteristic staple in the cuisine of the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Southern Brazil, including this churrasco de porco or herby-beer pork loin sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
This heritage spans back several centuries, to the time when European immigrants first began to colonize the south of Brazil. Gauchos (Brazilian cowboys) herded the cattle as they roamed and grazed through the vast, fertile plains of southern Brazil known as the Pampas. At the end of the day, they gathered together around the fire pit to eat churrasco and to share stories, a tradition that continues even today.
Churrasco utilizes a variety of meats, including different cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, as well as sausages. These are cooked over a “churrasqueira” (barbecue grill), which usually includes supports for long metal or wooden skewers to suspend the meats above embers of charcoal or wood.
Churrasco is considered a year-round delicacy in Brazil, not just reserved for the summer. In modern times, it is often enjoyed at “churrascarias” or Brazilian steakhouse restaurants. One of my favorites is this churrasco de porco!
At such steakhouses, clients are seated at their tables and provided with a card colored green on one side and red on the other. The green side is flipped up when the client wants to be served, while the red side is shown when he or she desires the service to pause or stop. Gaúcho servers, dressed in traditional garb, move around the steakhouse with long meat skewers and a large carving knife, slicing meat onto the client’s plate — a serving style called rodízio. Along with the meat, many side dishes are brought to the table such as beans, rice, farofa (toasted manioc flour), campanha sauce (similar to pico de gallo), fried polenta, and others. Churrascarias also invariably feature a full salad bar. The meal ends with dessert and cafezinho (a small cup of strong coffee).
Churrasco de porco, along with feijoada, is one of those dishes just perfect for sharing with friends and family. Any leftovers are often used to make churrasco sandwiches, an especial favorite of many Brazilians.
Either homemade or from a churrascaria, churrasco is a savory delight, especially this churrasco de porco made from pork loin, marinated in beer and herbs, and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. It can bring to your home the churrascaria experience, all while saving you big bucks.
Enjoy our churrasco de porco… or as we say in Brazil, “bom apetite!”
Churrasco de Porco com Queijo Ralado (Herby-Beer Pork Loin Sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese)
- 2.2 lbs pork loin cleaned (fat and silver skin removed) and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces crosswise, 1 kg
- 12 fl. oz brown ale beer 355 ml
- 6 fl. oz olive oil not extra-virgin, 180 ml
- 1-1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar to balance the bitterness of the beer
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons fresh Italian oregano chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Enough grated Parmesan cheese to sprinkle after grilling
In a large bowl, mix well all the ingredients together, except the Parmesan cheese. Place into a 1 gallon heavy-duty ziploc bag, remove the air, and zip. Refrigerate the bag inside a clean bowl and let marinate for at least 2 hours to up to 8 hours, flipping the bag at least once.
Remove pork from bag with tongs and place on a baking sheet. Remove all the excess oregano from the surface of the pork loin (this is to prevent the loin from becoming bitter once grilled). Pour marinade in a separate container and reserve it to baste the pork loin while grilling.
If you do not have a Brazilian barbecue skewer, you can place the loin pieces directly onto the grill and carefully monitor cooking times, basting occasionally while the meat is grilling. If you do have a Brazilian barbecue skewer, skewer the chopped pieces of the loin one by one (lengthwise), being careful not to cut yourself, as shown below.
Please ensure that the length of meat on the skewers will not exceed the diameter of your grill. It is also important to allow enough room so that the handle of the skewer, which is traditionally made of wood, will lie at a distance well away from the flame and heat of the grill.
Before grilling, please be sure to scrape/clean any residual carbon from the metallic surface in order to avoid flame-ups. Start up the grill, which can either be a charcoal-heated or gas grill. If using a gas grill, set the temperature to medium and close the lid in order to allow it to heat up. If a charcoal grill is used, light the briquets, and then when they are fully heated and well ashed-over (about 30 minutes), evenly distribute over the bottom of the grill.
Place each skewer onto the grill. I would suggest placing skewers slightly away from the hottest, most central portion of the grill, in order to reduce the risk of burning the outside of the meat before the inside has fully cooked. Lower the lid on the grill, and let cook for about 5 minutes. Flip each skewer over in order to ensure even grilling on each side. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes more. Check to make sure the pieces of the loin are fully cooked (if needed, one of the pieces can be sliced open to make sure the center has sufficiently cooked through).
Enjoy a lot this churrasco de porco com queijo ralado! Churrasco de porco is one of the most popular Brazilian barbecues at churrascarias.