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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nuttin' Like A Good Feijoada

This dish has been posted before on this blog but I made it again tonight. It is one of my favorite dishes from the wonderful cuisine of Brazil. It is the national dish in fact. Of course there are a lot of things missing here that you can really only get in Brazil but it was delicious just the same.
It is a stew of black beans, sausages, pork and pigs feet. In Brazil they use a carne de sol which means beef dried in the sun. They also put pigs ears and pigs tails into the dish. It was a dish for the slaves with all the rest from the master's table put into it. Hence the ears, feet and tail. The rest of the pig would be used for the masters.
It takes a good 3 hours to cook and it is served with collard greens , rice, manioc flour which is used instead of bread to soak up the juices.
A slice of orange is served on the side of the plate with some salsa. It is a festive dish which is always served in a clay pot and all the garnish in smaller pots. In the North they use red beans and in the south ( Rio ) they use black beans. I prefer the black beans myself.
Once you taste this dish made well you won't forget it.
I have heard that there are as many recipes for feijoada as there are cooks in Brazil. Here is a simple one.


8 cups dried black beans

3 pounds carne seca (Brazilian salted cured beef)

2 pounds sweet sausage (I use Portuguese choriço when available)

2 pounds baby back spareribs

2 bay leaves

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

The night before, soak the beans in a large bowl with water to cover at least 3-4 inches. Soak the carne seca in water to cover. The next morning, drain the beans and place in a large pot with water to cover by at least 3 inches. Bring the beans to a boil in medium heat.

Meanwhile, cut the carne seca into 1-inch pieces. Cut the sausage into 1-inch pieces. (When I use the Portuguese sausage I usually prick it with a fork and simmer it for ten minutes in enough water to cover; then I cut it.) Cut the ribs into 2-rib sections.

Add the carne seca, sausage, ribs and bay leaves to the beans. Simmer for about 2 hours or until soft (Goya brand black beans usually take about 2 hours) , stirring from time to time, adding water as necessary to keep beans covered. Keep an eye on the beans so they don't burn at the bottom!

Chop the onion and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden brown. Add two ladlefuls of beans and mash them. Put this back into the pot. It will thicken and season the beans.

Continue to simmer gently for at least another hour, adding water as necessary. A good feijoada should have a creamy consistency when done. Remove the bay leaves. Some people take the meats out at this point and serve them separately on a platter. I like to leave them in with the beans, it keeps them hot. Serve the feijoada and garnishes in ceramic bowls and platters, it will add a touch of authenticity!

To serve feijoada, put a mound or rice on your plate and place a ladleful or two of feijoada on top. Arrange oranges and couve around the sides. Sprinkle the beans and couve with farofa and add a spoonful of sauce to the side.

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