Recipe last updated in 31/10/2014
There are many versions of the origin of coxinha but the most accepted is that the delicacy was invented in end of the XIX century to please one of the sons of our crown Princess Isabel who used to love chicken drumsticks. I am not sure if this is true or not, but coxinha is undeniably our national snack along with pastel (a Brazilian deep-fried pastry – recipe coming soon!). Coxa means drumstick in Portuguese so the name coxinha is related to the shape of the snack which resembles chicken drumsticks. Crunchy on the outside with a moist and flavoursome chicken filling on the inside, coxinhas are found about everywhere you go in Brazil: from little street carts, cafes, bakeries, shopping centers’ food courts, through to grill houses and restaurants. Also, a kid’s birthday party is not complete if there are no coxinhas around and the little ones simply love them probably because they are easy to eat and the flavours are simple. I remember that my mum used to put coxinhas in my lunchbox (yes, even cold they can be still yummy, although I prefer warm). The traditional filling is chicken but over the years other flavours were created such as chicken and catupiry (Brazilian mild soft cheese), dried cod or prawns.
They are incredibly delicious but time-consuming so a tip I give you is to make it a little bit easier is to prepare the filling one day ahead. The fact that they freeze well also helps a lot.
Alex Atala created his own version of coxinha for his latest book and Nigella Lawson fell in love with coxinhas when she visited Brazil. What more can I say to make you try this recipe?
400g chicken breast, deboned
1L chicken stock
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and deseeded, finely chopped
1tbs unsalted tomato paste
1 tsp ground chilli
1 garlic clove
2 tbs parsley, finely chopped
2 tbs coriander, finely chopped
1 spring onion finely chopped
2 cubes chicken stock
1 tbs unsalted butter
3 cups (450g) plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil (such as peanut or canola) for deep frying
Preferably make the filling overnight
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to the boil, add the chicken breast and cook for 15 minutes, covered, over medium heat or until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool and freeze the stock for future use. Finely shred the chicken and reserve.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and fry the onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft and transparent. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic and chilli, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and cook stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until thick. Stir in the herbs and season to taste. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
3. In a large saucepan, pour the milk, stock cubes and butter and bring to the boil. Stir well and then turn the heat to low. Add the flour slowly and stir using a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together (don’t worry about the lumps). Transfer to a plate, cover with a clean tea towel and allow to cool slightly. On a clean surface knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth.
4. Set up two baking trays: one for the balls and another one for the filled coxinhas. Scoop about 1 tbs of dough to make each of 35 truffle-sized balls and put them onto a tray. Grab a ball and flatten it up on the palm of your hand to form a 7cm diameter disc and spoon about 1 ½ tsp of the chicken filling right in the middle of the disc. Make sure the filling is placed right in the middle and doesn’t leak to the edges*. Firmly bring the edges together to enclose the filling making a chicken drumstick shape. Place coxinha back on the tray. Repeat with the remaining dough.
5. Once all coxinhas are ready, put the breadcrumbs in a bowl and the eggs in another bowl. Dip each coxinha into the eggs and then in into the breadcrumbs.
6. Set up another tray lined with paper towel. Pour the oil into a large sauce pan or deep-frier and heat over medium-high heat until a little bit of bread crumb sizzles when dropped into oil. Turn the heat down to medium and fry the fritters in batches for about 3-4 minutes or until golden. Place them on the prepared tray. Serve preferably warm. Makes: 35 small coxinhas
*If the filling leakes it makes very difficult to close the coxinhas. For the same reason, take care not to overfill the dough
– If you wish, you can pre-heat the oven 120°C to keep the coxinhas warm while frying.
– Re-heat in the oven (not in the microwave) to retain its crunchyness
– Coxinhas freeze well, just instead of dipping them in the beaten eggs, they should be dipped into beaten egg whites and then breadcrumbs. Freeze them in an air tighten container in one layer over a baking paper without overcrowding the container and making sure they are spread apart. To fry there is no need to thaw, just dip them again into beaten eggs and breadcrumbs. They can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.