How to make Carne de Sol com Queijo de Coalho (Sun-Cured Beef topped with Grilled Halloumi Cheese): The correct recipe and valuable tips from someone who will not lead you wrong!!!

The recipe that I am about to present today is a staple in my state of Pernambuco and in several other states of the Northeastern region of Brazil: Carne de Sol com Queijo de Coalho. It is so beloved that it has become famous all over Brazil.

It’s known in Portuguese as carne de sol (which can be translated as sun-cured beef), or occasionally as carne de sereno (dew-mist beef).  It received these interesting names because a long time ago – before refrigeration was available – meat was salted with 5.5 to 6% of its weight in salt and placed outdoors to be cured and to tenderize during the night.  This was in an area of Brazil that was hot during the day and refreshingly colder at night, just like in a desert climate.  The meat would receive the first cool rays of the sun in the morning, and then be brought inside for cooking.  In contrast,  nowadays for sanitary reasons the meat is kept salted under refrigeration.

Now there is one thing that I feel I must mention: when it comes to making carne de sol, forget coarse salt– in Brazil, this is reserved solely for making churrasco (Brazilian barbecue).  One of the most unfortunate, glaring mistakes that I have often noticed in many carne de sol recipes taken from the Internet is that they call for the use of coarse salt, which is not the authentic method of preparation.  Don’t let them deceive you!   Here you will find the correct recipe and technique, along with detailed directions.

Well, carne de sol is generally served with a typical semi-hard cheese called queijo de coalho (rennet cheese), along with other side dishes (e.g. boiled cassava, pirão – a thick gravy made mostly from milk, coalho cheese, and coarse cassava flour.  I personally enjoy carne de sol served with a fresh salad.  Since coalho cheese is not readily available here in the US, I have substituted Halloumi cheese from Cyprus.  Although Halloumi is made from a mixture of goats’ and sheep milk and coalho is made from cow’s milk, both cheeses are similar in taste and texture, and are both set with rennet.  They also both have a high melting point, and thus can easily be pan-fried and grilled.  But since Halloumi is much saltier than coalho cheese, it must undergo preparation by de-salting before grilling.

Well, I hope you appreciate our carne de sol as much as I do.



Brazilian Sun-Cured Beef topped with Grilled Coalho Halloumi Cheese

(Carne de Sol recipe was adapted from Chef Wanderson Medeiros from Carne de Sol do Picuí Restaurant)

Serves 8

Segment: Brazilian cuisine

Carne de sol com queijo de coalho...

Carne de sol com queijo de coalho…


35 ounces (about 1 kg) sirloin or rump beef (I used a cheaper cut called bottom round roast; in this case, for best results please use a generous  pinch of tenderizer mixed with the salt)

2 ounces (about 55 g) fine salt (always use 5.5 to 6% of the meat weight of fine salt)

6.8 fluid ounces (200 ml) clarified or unsalted butter, melted

8 slices Halloumi cheese, squared*

* Halloumi cheese is available in supermarkets like Whole Foods and Central Market, as well as at Middle-Eastern supermarkets.


1. If you prefer a leaner cut of meat, remove the thin layer of fat which would be crispy and a bit chewy after cooked. Salt half of the meat with half of the salt and massage well in order for the salt to penetrate.

2. Place in a plastic bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, which is less cold. Then remove the meat from the refrigerator and salt the other half of the meat (only the red areas) with the other half portion of fine salt.

3. Refrigerate again, but this time for 12 hours. Water will be drawn out of the meat as you can see in the picture. After this time, put just the meat in a plastic bag and freeze for 5-8 days.**

4. Let the meat thaw completely in the refrigerator. Put the meat in a plastic bowl and fill with enough water to cover the meat.  Leave for 30 minutes, drain the water and repeat the process twice more.  While the meat is being de-salted, de-salt the cheese as well in a separate plastic or ceramic bowl filled with enough water to cover the cheese.  Let sit for 1 to 1-1/2 hours total, draining off the water and refilling the bowl with fresh water every 30 minutes during this period.


5. Pat dry the cheese and reserve. Pat dry the meat as well with a paper towel or a clean cloth.  Divide the piece of meat into 4 thick slices (cut against the grain of the meat) and then cut each of these slices cut in half so that they are in the form of large squares or cubes, trimming excess if necessary (these trimmed little pieces of meat can be cooked along with the other large pieces). In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt half of the butter and then place the 8 large cubes of carne de sol into the skillet.  Brown the 6 sides of the sliced carne de sol (about 1 minute on each side).

6. Pour the remaining half of the butter on top of the meat and finish cooking in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F (180 ° C) for approximately 4 to 5 minutes (rare to medium) or for about 7 to 9 minutes (well done).

7. While the carne de sol is cooking, grill the slices of cheese on both sides in a greased cast iron grilling pan over medium-high heat. Once the meat is cooked, place on a plate and top each of the carne de sol cubes (steaks) with one slice of grilled cheese and serve immediately.

** This process of salt-curing is used to preserve the meat with salt, which penetrates into the meat and draws out water from it.  The water in which it sits dissolves the salt, which gets carried into the meat via osmosis.  Salt relaxes the protein fibers of the meat, tenderizing it and adding flavor.


Receita em Português:

Carne de Sol com Queijo de Coalho

(Receita adaptada do Chefe Wanderson Medeiros do Restaurante Carne de Sol do Picuí em Alagoas)

Rendimento: 8 porções


1 kg de contra-filé ou alcatra

55 g sal fino (salgue sempre a carne com 5.5 a 6 % do seu peso de sal fino)

200 ml de manteiga de garrafa ou manteiga sem sal derretida

8 fatias quadradas de queijo de coalho

Modo de Preparo:

1. Salgue metade da peça de contra-filé ou alcatra com metade do sal fino e massageie bem para o sal penetrar. Ponha numa bacia plástica e refrigere por 4 horas. Depois retire a carne da geladeira e salgue a outra metade da carne (somente as áreas avermelhadas) com a outra metade do sal fino. Leve à geladeira novamente mas desta vez por 12 horas.

2. Passado esse tempo, ponha a carne salgada numa sacola plástica e leve ao freezer por 5 a 8 dias .** Deixe a carne descongelar completamente na geladeira.

3. Ponha a carne numa bacia plástica e encha com água suficiente para cubrir a carne. Deixe descansar por 30 minutos, escorra a água e repita o mesmo processo mais 2 vezes.

4. Feito isso, enxugue a carne delicadamente com toalha de papel ou um pano limpo. Divida a peça de carne em 4 fatias grossas e depois corte cada um dessas fatias ao meio para que fiquem no formato de cubos grandes.

5. Numa frigideira aquecida sobre fogo médio-alto, ponha os 8 cubos grandes de carne com metade da  manteiga derretida e doure dos 6 lados (aproximadamente 1 minuto de cada lado). Derrame a outa metade da manteiga de garrafa ou derretida por cima da carne de sol e leve ao forno pré-aquecido na temperatura de 180°C por 4 a 5 minutos (de mal passada a ao ponto) ou por 6 a 8 minutos (bem passada).

6. Enquanto a carne de sol cozinha, grelhe as fatias de queijo de ambos os lados.

7. Uma vez cozinhada a carne, ponha em um prato e cubra cada um dos cubos grandes de carne de sol com uma fatia quadrada de queijo de coalho grelhado e sirva imediatamente.

** Esse processo de salgamento da carne ou cura com sal  é usado para preservar carnes. Nele o sal penetra na carne retirando água. A água que se acumula na superfície dissolve o sal, o qual entra na carne através de osmose. O sal relaxa as células de proteína da carne, amaciando as suas fibras e adicionando sabor.


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12 Responses to How to make Carne de Sol com Queijo de Coalho (Sun-Cured Beef topped with Grilled Halloumi Cheese): The correct recipe and valuable tips from someone who will not lead you wrong!!!

  1. Mi Vida en un Dulce January 9, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    Ok, in our countries traditional food is normally cookes with fine salt, I mean, I started to see coarse salt in just the last years, but our food has hundred of years.

    • Denise Browning January 9, 2013 at 2:31 am #

      Exactly, Nydia! In Brazil and most of South American countries, meats are cooked with fine salt and taste absolutely delicious. Coarse salt is reserved to barbecued meats only (at least in Brazil). I get surprised and upset when I read articles saying that meats salted with fine salt taste horrible. I so disagree with it! I think they should taste our amazing food…Thanks for commenting! xx

  2. Julia | January 10, 2013 at 2:59 am #

    This looks so wonderful with that thick slice of cheese on top! I never cured beef, this sounds like an interesting flavor!

    • Denise Browning January 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      Thanks, Julia! This is a typical dish from my region in Brazil. It’s something that people usually don’t know how to prepare here so I
      have posted the recipe for the meat (the same in both countries) and found a cheese that has a similar taste and texture to the Brazilian one used in the traditional recipe, which it is not available in the US. This way, Brazilians living in the US can still enjoy this dish and Americans can learn how to prepare this delicacy without having to travel to Brazil. Nice to hear from you!!! xx

  3. Nami | Just One Cookbook January 12, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    Really beautiful dish, Denise! It’s interesting combination to me to have both beef and halloumi cheese. Wish to have this gorgeous meal. :)

    • Denise Browning January 12, 2013 at 7:44 am #

      Thanks so much, Nami! This is a typical dish from my Pernambuco state, something that I have missed eating so much so I had to prepare it…I am so glad to have you visiting me again. Have a happy weekend!!

  4. Hungry Larder August 19, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Hi Denise, this recipe looks amazing. Really like your blog. Do you happen to know how I’d use the cured beef to make ‘carne seca na moranga’? Thanks!

    • Denise Browning August 19, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      Thank you! Yes…Once the raw cured beef is ready, you can slice and then shred it. The shredded cured beef can be seasoned with spices and sauteed with onion, and garlic. This will be incorporated to the stew in the moranga.

      • Hungry Larder August 19, 2013 at 11:19 am #

        That’s great. I’m planning to serve this at my next supper club, but was struggling to find the cured beef. Will try your method and let you know how it went. Thanks!


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