If you travel to Brazil and you eat meat, the chances of being offered farofa are pretty high. But, as a part of the offer to try this dish will be a very kind ‘but I am not sure if you are going to like it.’ There is something about Brazilians when it comes to foreigners and farofa that they do not think these gringos (term used to refer to foreigners in Brazil) will like this manioc flour based side dish. When my husband first offered farofa to me he started with the very kind phrase ‘but I don’t think you are going to like it.’ Well, he was wrong with that one! And it seems that Brazilians are still surprised when they learn that this gringa LOVES to eat and make farofa.
Ok, so you are probably reading this and wondering ‘what the hell is this farofa dish.’ Farofa is a side dish commonly served with meat, rice, and beans and is almost always found at churrascos (barbecues). Farofa is made from farinha de mandioca which is a much courser and less starchy manioc flour than regular tapioca flour (see my post about the different types of manioc flours in Brazil). The farinha de mandioca is slightly yellow and can be found in many different varieties, from toasted to course to flakey (looks a little bit like corn flakes)! The type of farinha de manioca you use depends entirely on your taste buds; there is no right or wrong farinha de mandioca to use when making farofa.
So the base of farofa is a dry and course manioc flour. Because this flour is rather tasteless and not nice to eat on its own, Brazilians use butter, onions, bacon, parsley, eggs and almost anything else you can imagine to flavor this flour and make it in to a deliciously yummy side dish that is paired beautifully with meat.
The secret to a really tasty farofa is the butter. Lots of butter is melted in a frying pan, onions are added and are either lightly sautéd or sautéd until they are brown and crispy. Other ingredients are sautéd next. Lastly, making sure there is enough butter in the pan, the farinha de mandioca is added and mixed with all of the other ingredients. The butter is used to add moisture to the dry flour. The trick is to get just the right amount of butter so as not to make the farinha de mandioca too moist or too dry!
As with all Brazilian dishes everyone has their own recipe for farofa and swears by it. This is my favorite recipe and the one that I make the most. For a different farofa recipe take a look at this one from fellow blogger Sally.
3/4 cup farinha de mandioca
2 – 4 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 slices of bacon, finely chopped
1 handful of Cheiro verde or parsley
Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are just beginning to brown. Add the bacon and fry for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the cheiro verde together with the farinha de mandioca. Keep over the heat for approximately 1 minute. Remove from the heat and place into a serving bowl. This can be served warm, cold, or room temperature.
Eat with meat (sausage is my favorite), rice, and beans.
For a PDF of this recipe CLICK HERE!
Comments: To make this recipe it is absolutely essential that you use farinha de mandioca. The fine tapioca flour that is used to make pão de queijo will not work. Finding the course manioc flour outside of Brazil is not all that easy. I have found it in the international section of some supermarkets in the USA, but not frequently. You can easily buy it online. Take a look here for links of where to buy it or this link will take you directly to the product! You have the option of buying ‘torrada’ or ‘cruda/crua’. The ‘torrada’ has a stronger more nutty flavor than the ‘cruda/crua’. My favorite brand for farinha de mandioca is Yoki!