We recently caught up with Chef Evandro Caregnato of Texas de Brazil, a Churrascaria chain based in Dallas, TX. Chef Evandro’s “Gaúcho-style Lamb Shoulder” with Australian Lamb was served at a recent media event in Dallas to great acclaim.
AL: Tell me about the “Gaúcho-Style Lamb Shoulder” - you made it for us at the event in Dallas last year, and it was a huge hit. What was the inspiration?
EC: This dish is very typical of southern Brazilian cooking. There is a long history of Italian immigration to that part of the country, including my family back in the late 1800s. Italian families came to help settle the country, farm and ranch, and they brought their culinary traditions with them. [gaúcho means cowboy in Portuguese] As a result, you find foods like polenta a lot in south Brazil. It’s like mashed potatoes for Brazilians…at least in the south.
Lamb is typically cooked in long and slow braises in Brazil. The garlic and aromatic herbs like sage and rosemary are quite common, and echo what the lambs would graze on. You want to taste the natural lamb flavor, so it’s a pretty simple dish - hit it with a quick sear, braise with wine, garlic and herbs and tomatoes, and serve over the soft polenta. It’s delicious.
AL: Last year you had a very successful promotion for Aussie Lamb at Texas de Brazil. What have you noticed about Americans’ preferences for lamb?
EC: I think it helps that with our churrascaria concept, you pay a flat price and can try any variety of meat you want. If you’re at a traditional steakhouse, it can be hard to try something new and commit to a full entrée of something less familiar like lamb. At Texas de Brazil, all of that pressure is gone, and we get comments all the time from guests who tell us “It’s been so long since I had lamb” or “I didn’t think I liked lamb.” We had one guest eat 52 Aussie lamb chops in a single sitting! I don’t recommend that, but it shows you how far lamb fans will go once they have a good product prepared the right way.