‘Finally, feijoada (Brazilian black bean stew)!’ as one of my cooking class students will no doubt say. No one was more anxious to see it appear in one of my posts than he…
Let’s start by introducing this hearty dish briefly which has more than one version.
Brazilian Feijoada is a slow-cooked stew prepared with black beans and an assortment of pork and sometimes beef products, all nestled in a rich, dark-colored broth. Its taste is robustly flavorful and savory. It has been Brazil’s national dish for a few centuries. Yes, centuries. Remember? We love beans!!! Feijoada was born of the fusion of Portuguese traditions with African slaves’ superb cooking skills, while modified by their restricted availability of food sources. At that time, all parts of the hog were taken advantage of, including the ears, trotters, tails, etc. However, this dish, like many others, has evolved with the passage of time, and most modern recipes for it avoid the use of these humbler parts of the pig due to some people’s aversion to them.
Feijoada (black bean stew) is a delectable yet heavy dish, commonly served at lunchtime (and then followed by a contented, refreshing nap!). Brazilians love to share feijoada with family and friends on the weekends, just as Americans do with barbecue.
I am pleased to say that both of my daughters (a four- and a five-year old) devoured theirs at dinner time. According to them, no side dishes were necessary to accompany it — not even rice. Ah, my eager little diners…. You cannot imagine how happy I was to watch you appreciating mommy’s love poured into food.
I wish you a great weekend sharing feijoada, Brazil’s beloved dish with your loved ones!
P.S: My hubby asked me to say that my feijoada was even better on the second day. 😉
- 1 (16 ounce or 454 gr.) package dry black beans, soaked overnight and drained
- 6 - 7 cups water
- 3 smoked ham hocks
- 6 thick slices smoked bacon, medium diced (I used turkey "bacon" in mine to make the dish lighter and less fatty)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, if necessary
- 10 ounces (about 282 gr.) smoked sausage, sliced (e.g. Andouille, smoked Kielbasa) in case paio (a traditional Portuguese and Brazilian smoked sausage made from pork loin, bell pepper, garlic, and salt) is not available.
- ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-1/2 pound (about 700 gr) pork baby back ribs, cut
- 4 ounces (about 100 gr.) beef jerky (similar to carne seca)
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon ground coriander*
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (improves taste and reduces gassy elements)*
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
- Note: * These ingredients are not part of the traditional feijoada. It was added by me to make the dish tastier.
- Sort the beans, discarding any shriveled or broken ones. Wash them and soak beans in three times their volume of cold water overnight before cooking. Reserve.
- In a medium pan, cover the ham hocks in water, bring to a boil, cover pan, reduce heat, and let simmer over low heat for approximately 2 to 3 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a separate, large heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat, bring the beans with 6 cups of water to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat. Let simmer over medium-low heat for 60 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve, covered.
- Cook the diced bacon in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat until lightly browned. Reserve. In the same skillet, brown the sliced sausage in the bacon fat (if you use turkey bacon, you'll need to add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet in order to brown the sausage). Reserve. Then, add the onions and sauté until translucent. Next, add the garlic and sauté both together a bit more (for about 30 to 60 seconds).
- Mix the browned bacon and sausage, and also the sautéed onion and garlic into the cooked beans. Add the ham hocks, the ribs, the beef jerky, bay leaves, all the seasonings and spices, and the vinegar, to the beans. Add 1 cup of water more, if necessary. Cover and let simmer over medium-low heat for 60 to 70 minutes more. Stir and remove the bay leaves. Right before serving, sprinkle the chopped cilantro or parsley. Serve feijoada warm with white rice*, farofa, couve , sliced oranges or pineapple, breaded deep-fried bananas , and caipirinha, cachaça or beer (optional). Other common side dishes for feijoada are boiled or deep-fried cassava and pork rinds (torresmo).
- NOTE: In Brazil, it has become more and more common the use of parboiled rice which is available in American supermarkets. Our traditional rice is a white, long-grain one that turns loose (non-sticky) after cooked.