Today is a little departure from my normal, healthy recipes, as I present to you one of the most delicious and decadent foods that is near and dear to every Brazilian’s heart: the coxinha.
Let me tell you a little about coxinhas (ahem): first of all, coxinha (ko-SHEEN-ya) means “little thigh”. Cute, right? That’s because they sort of look like little chicken thighs, and Wikipedia told me that they originally were made with chicken thigh meat. The fried little bulbous snacks are filled with shredded chicken and either olives or green onions, enveloped in dough and bread crumbs and deep fried.
Coxinhas are a staple in Brazilian street food. They are about as common as french fries in the U.S. You’ll find them in airports, rest stops, and “lanchonettes” (sort of like little snack stands). Brazilians freakin’ love them. And my husband is Brazilian. And he loves them. (He ever-so-slyly asked me the other day “So, did you forget how to make coxinhas?” Subtle. Very subtle.)
I first set out determined to figure out how to make them sort of as a novelty, like, “there’s no possible way I’ll figure this out, but Fabio will think it’s charming that I tried”. About three or four tries later, I had apparently come close enough to the original that Fabio started asking me to make them for him – and his Brazilian friends. By the time his mom came to visit us for Christmas last year, I was pretty good. I knew that I had gotten it right when my mother-in-law ate not one, BUT TWO of them!! Proudest Brazilian-wife moment right there.
I base my coxinha-making off this recipe, but I’ve make a few tweaks here and there.
- For the filling:
- 3 cups shredded chicken breast
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ⅓ cup pimento-stuffed olives, chopped (you can use green onions here instead)
- For the dough:
- 3½ cups chicken stock
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- For dredging:
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the shredded chicken and chicken stock, turn heat down to low. Allow the chicken to absorb the stock, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and mix in the chopped olives. Set aside.
- To make the dough, add the chicken stock and olive oil to a deep pot (soup pot or dutch oven works well) over medium heat, until it begins to simmer.
- Once simmering, turn off the heat, and add the sifted flour all at once. Start stirring right away, and continue stirring hard until an elastic dough starts to form. Set aside and let cool.
- Once cool enough to handle, knead the dough on a flat surface until smooth. (The texture will feel very springy and a little sticky.)
- To form the coxinhas, take a small amount of dough, and flatten into a disc about the size of your palm. Take about 1 tablespoon of the shredded chicken mixture and place in the center of the disc. Bring the sides of the dough up and around the chicken to enclose it. Using two hands, use one hand to pinch one end into a point while the other hand cups the bottom to keep it round.
- Now you'll dredge the coxinhas before frying. Set out in front of you a dish with flour, a bowl with the beaten egg whites, and a dish with the panko. Dredge the coxinha in the flour, then dip in egg whites, then roll in the panko.
- If you don't plan on frying them right away, keep them in the fridge. If you want to store them in the freezer, place them on a plate and put them in a freezer. Once frozen, you can remove from the plate and store them all together in a large freezer-safe plastic bag.
- To fry, add enough oil to a deep pot to cover one coxinha. Heat the oil to ALMOST boiling. The oil has to be super hot! The oil is hot enough when you drop a small piece of dough in and it starts to bubble and rises to the surface. Or, if you want to test the oil the Brazilian way, drop a match in the oil. If it lights, the oil is ready.
- Add the coxinhas carefully, one at at time, to the oil (do not overcrowd). Fry for about 30-45 seconds, using tongs to turn the coxinha, and watching to make sure they brown evenly on all sides. Remove from oil when golden brown, and set on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
If you want to eat them like a true Brazilian, grab some ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce, and have some for breakfast with fresh fruit juice, or in the afternoon with a cold beer.