Today’s recipe is about two super versatile South Americans: pineapple and chilli. Native from Brazil and Paraguay, pineapple is that gorgeous tropical fruit that looks like a large pine cone with a green crown on top… and that Aussies love to have in their burger! With a delightful aroma and rich in vitamin C pineapple is great on its own as a healthy snack option. There are so many ways to use pineapple in the kitchen such as adding them in fruit salads or made into a variety of cold desserts such as ice creams, sorbets, trifles, custards or mousses. Pineapple fritters and caramelised pineapple are great options if you like warm desserts. Camelo (camel) is how we call in Brazil the barbecued pineapple, which is just peeled and covered in cinnamon, skewered on a wooden stick and place it over the charcoal barbecue to caramelise and add that special smoky flavour. Pineapple can also be used in baking and be added to muffins, breads, cakes or made into juices and smoothies. The versatility of the fruit doesn’t stop in the desserts: pineapple is widely used in savoury dishes, for example as a pizza topping, in hamburgers, in curries or other spicy dishes and it is a great match with fish and pork. In the eighties in Brazil it was very trendy to make a pineapple boat and serve a prawn cocktail or sauce in it. Who doesn’t love a smoothie or cocktail served in that funky pineapple cup? Reminds me of the 80s again, more precisely the American sitcoms set in Hawaii! Then you have the classic Piña Colada…. pineapple is everywhere!
Chilli has a long history in the Americas, records from the colonisation period of Brazil show that many species of chillies were used by the indigenous people to flavour fish and the Aztecs used chillies in many of their dishes. Thanks to the Portuguese, chilli was introduced in Asia and now the Asian countries are amongst the largest consumers of chilli in the world. Fresh or dried chillies are essential ingredients to curries, soups, stews, sauces and salads in both Asian and Mexican cuisines. In Brazil, chillies are used extensively in the cuisine of the Northeast, they are cooked with fish and poultry to spice up the famous moquecas (see recipe here), added to stocks or made into hot sauces. Try to add chillies to your pasta or vegetable dish to make them taste hot and superb! They can make delicious jams, preserves and condiments and also are a great match with chocolate.
Caipiroska is how we nicknamed Caipirinha (see original Caipirinha recipe here) made with vodka. To sweeten up my modern Caipiroska I made a syrup with sugar, chillies, cloves and pineapple skin. Then, for an additional zing I pound the pineapple with a chilli before topping up with ice and vodka. This drink is very tropical, refreshing and spicy. It is a true South American in a glass…apart from the vodka, of course! I never tried to make it with cachaça but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work since cachaça really enhances the flavour of fruits.
By the way, this Caipiroska post is a good excuse to use my new super cute fish wooden pestles I bought in ‘Ilha do Mel’ (Honey Island) in Brazil:
This is a glimpse of the natural beauty of Honey Island, which is a great holiday destination for those who like to stay close to nature. You can stay in one of the picturesque bed and breakfast, enjoy hikking and sightseeing and at night have exotic cocktails in one of the local pubs. Stay tuned for more about Honey Island in future posts.
1 small pineapple (about 850 g)
6 red chillies
3/4 cup (180g) sugar
4 bird’s eye chillies, extra, to garnish
1. For the spicy pineapple syrup, wash the pineapple well with a kitchen brush under running water. Slice bottom and top of the fruit and discard. Peel the pineapple, remove the core and place both skin and core in a large saucepan with 2 roughly chopped chillies, water, sugar and cloves. Bring the mixture to the boil over high heat. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. Strain.
2. Roughly chop the pineapple. Cover 1/4 of a glass with pineapple, add 1 sliced chilli and roughly pound using (preferably) a wooden pestle. Add 80ml syrup, top up with ice and add 50ml vodka. Stir well. Repeat with other glasses.
3. Slice the bottom of the chilli lengthwise, garnish with chilli on rim and serve immediately.