Food & Drink

Brazilian fricassee features simple ingredients and minimal spices you may already have on hand

Brazilian fricassee features simple ingredients and minimal spices, which you already may have at home. (Alexandra Olsen
Brazilian fricassee features simple ingredients and minimal spices, which you already may have at home. (Alexandra Olsen)
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Each year, the first half of May is reserved for celebrations of maternal love. Not only is it Mother’s Day in both the United States and Brazil, it is also my mom’s birthday month.

So when this month came upon us, and quarantine made it impossible to hug my mom on her birthday, I knew I had to cook and share a recipe in her honor.

I chose the recipe I would share by thinking of my mom’s favorite things: homemade food, good conversation and her “ducklings,” which is what she calls her kids.

Enter, an Ana Olsen staple, Brazilian fricassee.

Of all the dishes I grew up eating, this is the one that brings back the most vivid memories of weeknight family dinners. It was the go-to delicious meal that everyone could enjoy as they talked and laughed at the dinner table. I think my mom was always striving to find meals like that, which is why fricassee became such a favorite.

Like in many Brazilian recipes, this easy and delicious dish features simple ingredients and minimal spices. You may already have all the ingredients to make fricassee at home.

The flavors of the dish come from the vegetables stewing in the pan and from a special ingredient — nutmeg.

Nutmeg’s slightly sweet and nutty flavor is ideal for cream-based sauces like the one in Brazilian fricassee. The acidity of the tomatoes also pairs well with the spice.

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I know that the use of nutmeg in a savory recipe may be unconventional for those who are accustomed to sprinkling this in their pumpkin pie, but you’ll just have to take a leap of faith.

The best part about Brazilian fricassee is that you will never taste the same fricassee twice. Just like mothers themselves, each version of the dish can vary greatly depending on the household and who is standing at the stove.

Don’t be afraid to add your own twist to this base recipe, just as every Brazilian mother has done. You may end up with your very own signature dish.

I can’t wait to taste my mother’s fricassee again. But for the time being, I’ll make my own and admire my mom from afar.

Follow Alexandra on Instagram, @FeedMeIowa, for more recipes and restaurant recommendations.

Recipes

Fricassee

Olive oil

1 yellow or sweet onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 chicken breasts

1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 package of fresh mushrooms, sliced

3 tomatoes, diced

1 small can of tomato paste

1 cup heavy cream

In a large skillet or frying pan, heat oil and saute onions and nutmeg on medium heat until onions become translucent.

Move onions to the sides of the pan and add chicken to the center, cook for two minutes on each side until lightly browned.

Add bell pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes to the pan. Cook until the peppers are tender but still have a slight crunch, we do not want to overcook these.

Add in tomato paste, mix and cook down for about four minutes.

Add heavy cream and mix well. Simmer with the lid on for three to four more minutes.

Salt everything to taste and serve with white rice and optional Tabasco sauce for spice.

Source: Alexandra Olsen

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