- Written by Cynthia Presser
It's been a really long time since I've been wanting to share a recipe for Coxinha. I love this Brazilian traditional snack SO MUCH, that the recipe had to be more than perfect… So my recipe had to be perfected to the point of this being the best Coxinha recipe ever.
Well, first of all, if you are Brazilian or if you have ever been to Brazil, chances are that you know Coxinha. It is one of the most popular finger foods/appetizers/snacks down there. Recipes and sizes can vary quite a bit, but the one thing that all of the Coxinhas have in common is its “chicken leg” shape – in fact, Coxinha literally translates to “little chicken leg”. I am not going to lie, achieving that shape can be time consuming. Making Coxinhas is the perfect example of labor of love… Time consuming, but absolutely worth it!
I usually make Coxinhas when there is someone around who can help me. Then, it can become a lot of fun! This time, it was a total family affair… My parents were around, so my dad helped with the pictures and my mom helped with shaping the little chicken legs. In between sips of wine, watching the boys, and frying some batches in advance (we were so hungry and excited to try that we had to fry a few even before they were all ready) we had a great time during the process!
In Brazil, Coxinhas are sold at “lanchonetes” or “confeitarias” (snack stores), and at bars (as an appetizer to have while enjoying a cold beer). They are also served in birthday parties – usually a smaller, finger food style version. For me, hands down, the Coxinha from the “confeitaria” Edelweiss in Curitiba (where I grew up) had always been the absolute best one! Well, so far… I will never forget the face that my husband did when he tried a bite of the Coxinha I served him… It was like he had died and gone to haven at that second!! It turned out that amazing!!
This recipe turned out extremely well, and if I had Brazilian cooks and Chefs looking at it I am sure they would call it a “gourmet version” of Coxinha. I will explain: instead of the traditional requeijão (Brazilian creamy cheese), I used Mascarpone. During all these years of adapting Brazilian recipes to the American palate I learned that Mascarpone can be a wonderful substitute to requeijão – and it can be found at all major grocery stores at a very competitive price. Requeijão is hard to find in the US - and it can be quite expensive – but if you have requeijão on hand, you can substitute the mascarpone in this recipe (although mascarpone tasted better – sorry requeijão, but it is the true!).
I am very proud of this recipe. For that reason, I am sharing it today to celebrate the 30-day count down to the Olympic Games in Rio! It will be a beautiful celebration and I know that Rio will deliver!! So if you cannot go to Brazil to watch the games, call some friends and celebrate just like the Brazilians: make some Coxinhas together, sip on some Caipirinhas, and have a good time with it! Which could be a better occasion to get together and make some traditional Brazilian food? Yes, it will be a party!
Coxinha (Brazilian Chicken Croquette)
Makes about 30
- 3 full skin-on chicken breasts, bones attached
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
- ½ cup scallions, finely chopped
- 2 cups (16 ounces) mascarpone
- 3 ¼ cups milk
- 3 ¼ cups flour
- 4 tablespoons butter (plus more to grease hands)
- 3 eggs lightly beaten with ½ cup water
- 2 to 3 cups of unseasoned bread crumbs
- Vegetable oil (such as canola or grapeseed) for deep frying
- Hot sauce (such as Tabasco, Cholula, Sriracha) for serving
Step 1 – Cook the Chicken
Place chicken breasts in a large pot and cover with chicken broth. Transfer to stove top and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is fully cooked; about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Save the broth. Set chicken aside to cool.
Once chicken is cool to touch, detach bones and remove skin. Discard bones and skin (or save to make a second batch of broth). Shred chicken meat finely. Set aside.
Step 2 – Make the Filling
Add olive oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot add onion and reduce heat to medium. Cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add shredded chicken and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and fold in parsley, scallions, and 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone. Set aside.
Step 3 – Make the Dough
Transfer broth to a large pot. Add 1 cup mascarpone (8 ounces) and milk and set on stove top over medium-high heat. Once mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and add flour slowly (approximately ½ cup at a time) while stirring vigorously. Once mixture has incorporated, add butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Keep stirring until you end up with a smooth dough – it should take about 5 to 7 minutes from start to finish until you are able to achieve such texture.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead for a feel minutes, until very smooth.
Step 4 – Shape the Coxinhas (See Pictures)
Grease hands with plenty of softened butter. Take about ¼ cup of dough at a time and spread open on the palm of your left hand (or on the palm of your right hand with you are left-handed). Try making it pretty thin.
Place about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of chicken filling on the center. Press filling lightly down to keep it as centered as possible.
Close dough until the filling in completely enclosed. Roll on the palm of your hands until a smooth ball forms – if a small tear happens take a tiny amount of dough and cover it, rolling on the palm of your hands until smoothed.
Pull a small amount of dough and shape it pointing outwards the ball – be careful not to make a tear. The shape should resemble a chicken leg.
Once the coxinha is formed, dip into egg wash and then into bread crumbs - the bread crumbs will cover up any imperfections on the surface.
Preferably using an electric fryer, deep fry coxinhas into hot oil until golden on the outside. Work in batches - the fryer must not be over croweded.
Transfer to a plate covered with paper towels to absorb some of the grease. Serve immediately with hot sauce on the side.
I ended up with about 1 ½ cups of extra filling. I really think that it is safer to make a bit extra then to run short. I saved the filling in the fridge for about two or three days, then I added to some pasta for the boys. You can add tomatoes, olives, corn, split peas, etc, and turn it into a topping for crostini. If you end up with extra just like I did, I am sure you can find use for such delicious chicken filling!
Do not be fouled by this picture. It looks like the crust is somewhat thick. It is not. The creamyness of the filling melts slightly into the creamyness of the dough giving this Coxinha unique flavor and texture!