Named for a Brazilian politico, brigadeiros are a very easy, simple chocolate candy; three ingredients, less than a half-hour cooking time, one pan, no thermometer, and crazy good.
Stir together a 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, a half cup cocoa, a dash of salt and two tablespoons butter in a sauce pan over a medium/low heat. Stir constantly, scraping the bottom with a wooden spatula until very thick. When you can form a cooled spoonful, grease your hands with butter and make balls no larger than a walnut. Roll the balls in sprinkles (chocolate is traditional) crushed nuts, coconut, cocoa, or a coating of your own device. Brigadeiros are usually served in those little crinkly-edged paper cups, but I never seem to have any.
This is a cool way to pack individual salad servings for picnics or cookouts. You don’t have to use a Mason jar; any wide-mouthed lidded container will do, but the iconic Mason makes for a (somewhat) classier presentation. Blend textures and flavors, use your imagination, consider who you’re feeding, and (above all) make it pretty. If you’re using tomatoes, cut the fruit in half and squeeze out the juices before dicing/slicing for the salad, and I’ll advise against including cheese because it will sweat.
In preparation, sequence is paramount. First in goes your dressing. Make different salads with different dressings for a crowd: a Caesar, a Cobb with blue cheese, an antipasto with vinegar and oil, etc. The next layer should include chunky items: beans, cucumber, carrots, celery, chick peas, green beans, pepper strips, broccoli/cauliflower, sliced radishes, olives, pickled vegetables, and such things. Then diced chicken, sliced eggs, diced (drained) tomatoes, sprouts, diced onions, peas, sliced mushrooms, and nuts. Finally, your leaf vegetables, and this layer should comprise about the top third of the container. Make sure the jars are water-tight before packing in an ice chest.
Most recipes for this old buffet dish involve pepperoncini, though there’s no reason not to use pickled cherry peppers, banana peppers or another pickled vegetable such as okra or green tomatoes, but not cucumbers. I mean, think about it.
Marinate a lean cut of beef in the pickling solution or vinegar and water (2:1) overnight or longer if you like, place meat in a covered baking dish with the pickled vegetables, plenty of garlic, freshly-ground black pepper and enough water to cover half the meat; you shouldn’t have to add any salt to this at all. Cook in a slow oven (300) until the beef is quite tender, chop or shred, add reduced liquid and serve warm or cold with hard rolls, a mild horseradish sauce and/or a good mustard of your choice. It should go without saying that this is one of those dishes that’s better the next day, but I’ll mention it.