Chicken “Drumstick” Fritter, Churrasco, Grilling The Brazilian Way by Evandro Caregnato
This is a great savory snack molded to look like a chicken drumstick. Allegedly, this dish was created during the Brazilian monarchy era to satisfy the voracious appetite of a spoiled noble child for chicken drumsticks. When the cook for the royal family realized that she didn’t have chicken legs, she shredded some leftover chicken, formed it into a drumstick-like fritter, and convinced the boy that it was a boneless drumstick. It worked so well that soon everyone in the court was eating them. Eventually, this snack became a favorite among the common folk. In many parts of Brazil, you can still find street boys carrying baskets of these coxinhas and selling them in front of office buildings or construction sites. Kids love them so much that they are always present at birthday parties. It requires a little practice to fold and fill the dough, but once you have done this a few times, it gets easier and quicker. The drumsticks also freeze well, so you can make an extra batch to defrost and serve for last-minute guests or as a weekend snack for the family.
Makes about 18 fritters
For the dough:
4 cups (960 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter
1 chicken bouillon cube, or 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
4 cups (480 g) all-purpose flour
For the filling:
1⁄2 lb (230 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
1⁄2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 small tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
For the coating:
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) milk
2 cups breadcrumbs or Panko crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
To make the dough, add the milk, butter, and chicken bouillon to a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium heat. It should taste like a creamy chicken broth. If necessary, increase the amount of bouillon and salt for balance and taste. Reduce to a low heat, slowly add the flour, and stir with a wire whisk for about 4 minutes. The dough is ready when it thickens and you can see the bottom of the pot when scraping it with a spatula. Transfer the dough to a pan or bowl, and keep it at room temperature until ready to use.
To make the filling, season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. If the chicken breasts are very thick, cut them in half. Heat the 2 tablespoons oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, and sauté the chicken pieces until golden. Add the onion and garlic, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, and add the chopped tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the chicken pieces and shred the meat finely by hand. Add the chicken back to the sauce along with the parsley and stir, adding salt to taste. o assemble the drumsticks, use your hands to form a golf-ball-sized amount of dough into a small pancake about 1⁄2 inch (13 mm) thick. Place 1 tablespoon of the chicken filling in the center of the dough and wrap tightly around the filling, forming it into the pear-like shape of a chicken drumstick. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling; set aside.
For the fritter coating, beat the eggs and milk in a bowl. Pour the breadcrumbs into a different bowl. Dip a fritter into the egg mixture, letting the excess drain back into the bowl, then roll it in the breadcrumbs, coating evenly. Repeat until all the fritters are coated. Heat 3 inches of oil to 350°F in a pot or electric fryer. Fry a few fritters at a time until the crumb coating turns golden brown. Remove the fritters from the oil and drain on paper towels before serving.
If freezing the fritters for future use, store after coating with breadcrumbs. Let the fritters defrost to room temperature before frying them.
Photographs by Denny Culbert from Churrasco by Evandro Caregnato, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.