Our sixth stop in Brazil this month features probably one of the most famous and favorite snacks in the country: coxinha de frango.
Coxinha de frango, also called coxinha de galinha or just coxinha, is a chicken drumstick or teardrop-shaped fritter based on a mixture of shredded chicken that is wrapped with dough, then battered before being deep-fried.
Coxinha de frango is definitely one of the country’s favorite snacks. Brazilian snacks, called salgados or salgadinhos, similar in concept to Spanish tapas, include a variety of delicacies such as empada (also called empadinha), risoles (deep-fried croquettes), pastel, quibe (Brazilian version of kibbeh), esfiha, croquete, bolinha de queijo (cheese balls), enrolado, folhado or pão de batata.
These salgadinhos can be found in nearly every lanchonete (snack bar), padaria (bakery), juice bar or even some upscale restaurant in Brazil.
Coxinhas may come in various sizes, from bite size to larger ones, which can be enjoyed as a full lunch as opposed to a snack.
The word coxinha comes from the snack’s shape mimicking a chicken drumstick. In Portuguese, coxa means thigh, but only when referring to chickens. A chicken drumstick is called sobrecoxa.
Coxinhas were originally made with an actual chicken thigh it them, which its traditional shape is meant to resemble.
The original version of coxinha de frango was created in the small city of Limeira, not too far from Sao Paulo, during the nineteenth century. At the time, lived a princess named Isabel. The Princess Imperial of Brazil was the heiress to the Brazilian throne after her two oldest brothers died.
She was married to a European count, Gaston d’Orléans, Count of Eu. The count and the princess had three sons and one daughter. Unfortunately, one of their sons was kept out of public view, as he suffered from mental illness.
He refused to eat anything other than chicken thighs and this is what the cook of the estate was preparing for him daily. One day, the cook realized that she didn’t have any chicken thighs for the young prince. However, there was plenty of chicken meat left over from the previous day. She decided to shred some leftover chicken meat before wrapping it in a ball of dough and shaping it into a chicken thigh.
She breaded it, fried it, then presented it to the young prince as a special little thigh. He loved the snack so much that he decided to only eat this new recipe of coxinha from that day.
Soon after, the success of the coxinha de frango spread throughout the city of Limeira before traveling throughout the country and becoming the ubiquitous Brazilian delicacy that we now know.
Coxinha de frango is the epitome of street food, a type of cuisine that we particularly love on 196 flavors, as we have featured a number of deep-fried snacks from all over the world including samosas, corn dog, akara, carimanolas, pakoras or empanadas.
Coxinha de frango is typically based on a dough made with flour and chicken broth but it can also include mashed potatoes. It is filled with shredded chicken meat, as well as spices, onions, parsley and scallions. The filling also occasionally includes tomato sauce, annato or turmeric and catupiry cheese. Some versions of coxinhas include only Catupiry cheese, one of the most famous brands of requeijão (creamy cheese spread) in Brazil. These coxinhas are generally marked with a toothpick where the chicken bone would be to differentiate them from the chicken filled version.
Coxinhas are coated in eggs, then in breadcrumbs (or manioc flour) before being deep-fried. They can be served by themselves or accompanied by ketchup, lime wedges, rosé sauce (heavy cream and ketchup), or even chimichurri sauce.
I prepared these fun snacks with my daughter Ava who helped me shape them. She actually did a great job! We made them on the bigger side, as we ate them for dinner. Everybody loved those chicken fritters at home with absolutely no exception. How can you go wrong with deep-fried meat and dough?
Recipe of Coxinha de Frango
Ingredients (for about 30 coxinhas)
- Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 30 minutes
For the filling
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
3 cups rotisserie chicken, deboned and finely shredded
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (or requeijão creamy cheese)
3 tablespoons chopped scallions
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
For the dough
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon annatto (optional)
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
8 large egg whites
3 cups breadcrumbs
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the white onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
In a large bowl, place the finely shredded chicken and stir in the cooked onion and garlic mixture, salt, pepper, the mayonnaise or Catupiry cheese, parsley and scallions. Set aside.
In a large, non-stick saucepan, place the chicken stock, salt, annatto, and olive oil, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. When the stock is hot, add the sifted flour all at once while stirring very well. It will get more and more difficult to stir but continue to stir vigorously for about 1 minute or so until obtaining a uniformly lumpy dough.
Remove from heat and transfer the coxinha dough to an electric mixer fitted with a hook attachment. Knead dough at low speed for about 5 minutes or until it becomes soft and smooth.
Scrape dough from mixing bowl onto a well-floured surface with a dough scraper or spatula, and knead a little bit more by hand. Shape the coxinha dough into a flat disk and let rest for about 10 minutes at room temperature.
Pinch off golf ball sized lumps of dough, then roll them with both hands into a ball and flatten them into small discs. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the chicken filling onto the center of each circle.
Pinch dough together at the top to seal, creating little drumstick or teardrop-shaped pouches. You should get between 25 and 30 coxinhas.
In a bowl, lightly whisk egg whites together. Place bread crumbs in another bowl. Carefully dip each coxinha into the egg whites and then the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
Pour enough vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed pot. Heat to 350 F.
Deep fry coxinhas in small batches for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, lightly season with salt, and serve hot.