When I left Brazil to come to college in the US, one of the things I seriously missed was coxinhas. Pronounced “koh-sheen-yahs”, these delicious croquettes are sold as snacks or bar food all over Brazil.
We serve them at parties, we order them in street-side cafes, we order them at the bar on a night out, and we often accompany them with booze. I have memories of sitting under the awning of a cafe, with sun-warmed skin from the beach, the smell of suntan lotion competing with the wonderful smells coming from all of the other tables, biting into a coxinha while sipping on a caipirinha. Can anything be more perfect?
The name literally means “little thigh” meant as a reference to the chicken thighs, or drumsticks, for which they are shaped. They go great with a cold glass of beer too, and there is nothing in the world that tastes quite like them.
Try to imagine, if you can, a crispy breaded outside, surrounding a tender, doughy layer that itself surrounds a deliciously seasoned chicken and herb filling. It’s a chubby little nugget from heaven. It’s a beautiful thing. I love them so very, very much. And they are addictive. I have to force myself to walk away from a tray of coxinhas.
so, let’s see what we need to make coxinhas
Full disclosure to my readers. This is not a complicated recipe, but it does take a little bit of time and effort. That is why Brazilians tend to eat coxinhas in restaurants and cafes. It’s always easier to let someone else make them. But that can’t happen here in the US. And trust me when I assure you that when you serve a batch of these at a party or on a special occasion, you will be a hero. They are worth every bit of time and effort. Remember, they are chubby little nuggets from heaven.
Many recipes call for riced, boiled potato for the dough. I use only flour because I have found the potato dough to be too difficult to handle.
Start with the filling.
Heat the chicken stock in a pan. When it is almost boiling, add the chicken breast and poach it until it is cooked through, about 10 – 12 minutes. Then cut it into chunks and shred it in your food processor. By the way, the chicken breast I had was enormous. It made much more shredded chicken than I needed. Two cups are enough for this recipe.
Keep the stock, you will need it for the dough.
Next, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil just until they become translucent.
Add the tomato paste and stir.
Then add the shredded chicken, the scallions, and the cream cheese (cut into small cubes), and one ladle of the chicken stock. Stir until everything is well mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Finally, turn off the burner and add the parsley. I know it looks like a lot of parsley, but it is a key ingredient. Stir everything well so that the parsley is well distributed.
Set the filling aside to make the dough.
Heat 3 cups of the chicken stock you used to poach the chicken breast and some butter to a boil.
Then add 3 cups of flour.
Stir until the dough comes together in a large ball, and the sides separate from the pan. Notice how grainy and rough it is.
Transfer the dough to a work surface so that you can knead it. Let it sit for a bit, though, because it will be too hot. You want to knead it while the dough is still quite warm, but not so that it burns your hands.
Knead the dough several times until it is smooth and silky like the picture above.
And now it is time to shape the coxinhas.
Break off a piece of dough and form a ball the size of a golf ball. The dough will still be warm. That’s ok.
Flatten the ball into a disk and shape it into a bit of a shell.
Place a good teaspoon of the filling into the dough shell. Then gently pinch the sides over the filling with one hand while using the other to turn the dough ball in your hand to make for a round bottom. You want the shaped coxinha to be round on the bottom and pointy-headed on top.
Continue until all of the dough has been used up.
Then whisk the eggs and milk into a bowl and set a bowl full of breadcrumbs next to it.
Cover each coxinha in the egg wash with one hand, then dredge it in the bread crumbs with the other, making sure that the entire surface is covered with breading.
Then off to the fryer you go. I just use an old pan, with enough canola oil to cover the coxinhas as they cook. Cook them until they are a nice dark golden brown.
Keep the oil at medium heat or the bread crumbs will become too dark too quickly. You can fry up to three at a time. They fry very quickly, and there is no need to worry because all of the ingredients are already fully cooked.
Transfer the fried coxinhas to a paper-covered pan. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. I don’t recommend paper towels. They get soggy and wet, and cling to your fried food, putting all your hard work to create crispy beauty at risk.
Once you have fried what you need, serve them hot.
Keep in mind, you can freeze the not-fried, breaded coxinhas to enjoy later. I’ll be honest and say that I have not tested how long they will keep. So, I suggest no more than a month. Just be sure to fully defrost them before frying them.
And this is what you get. We like to eat them with a few drops of hot sauce. But they are spectacular without, too.
I ate two of them before sitting to write this post and I want two more! Ughhhhh!
I know I said that I love these very, very much. But guys, I’m not sure you get it. I mean I LOVE these VERY, VERY much!
I’m sure you will too.
- FOR THE FILLING
- 1 chicken breast, poached in 4 cups of chicken stock, shredded
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces of cream cheese, cut into small cubes
- 1 ladle of chicken stock (reserved from poaching the breast)
- ¾ cup fresh parsley, chopped.
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Canola oil for frying
- FOR THE DOUGH
- 3 cups chicken stock, reserved from poaching the chicken
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Heat 4 cups of chicken stock until almost boiling, then poach the chicken breast, about 10-12 minutes.
- Reserve the stock and shred the chicken breast in a food processor.
- In a large skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium low heat until translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and stir.
- Add the chicken, the scallions, the cream cheese, and a ladle of stock.
- Stir until everything is well mixed.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Then turn off the burner and stir in the parsley until well distributed.
- Set the filling aside to make the dough.
- In a large sauce pan, heat 3 cups of the reserved stock to boiling with the butter.
- Then add the flour.
- Reduce the heat and stir until the dough forms into a ball and separates from the sides of the pan.
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface and allow to cool just enough so it can be handled.
- Knead the dough until it looks smooth and silky.
- Then pinch off a golf ball-sized amount of dough and roll it into a ball.
- Use your hands to flatten the dough circle into a concave shell that fits in the palm of your hand.
- Place a good teaspoon of the filling into the dough shell.
- Shape the coxinhas by pinching the ends of the dough over the filling to form a somewhat pointed top while using your other hand to rotate the dough bottom to form a round.
- Continue until all of the dough has been used.
- Preheat the canola oil in a frying pan under medium heat. There should be enough oil in the pan to cover the coxinhas while they fry.
- Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl.
- Pour the bread crumbs into another bowl.
- Then coat each coxinha in the egg wash and then dredge in bread crumbs until they are fully coated.
- Repeat until all the coxinhas have been breaded.
- Fry three at a time in the oil until they are a dark golden brown.
- Transfer to a paper-covered tray to drain.
- Serve hot.