Feijoada

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I was watching Anthony Bourdain recently on his show, “The Layover.” He was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, eating a lot, as usual. And I realized that I’ve never delved into any kind of South American cuisine. I’ve cooked Central American food, but nothing due south. And I’m sure each country in South America has its own regional cuisines, as well. Note to self: I must learn about South American cuisines!!

Now, I do own the cookbook, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, but it’s about crazy ways of cooking over open flames. You need a special kind of backyard to do the kind of cooking this chef/author does. His name is Francis Mallman. Any pyromaniacs out there would love this book!

Honestly, the book is beautiful, the recipes are beautiful, and the photos are beautiful. I just don’t understand his claim that he’s making his kind of grilling available to home cooks, when he’s cooking whole cows staked to iron crosses over giant fires in the middle of Patagonia.

But, back to Brazil. One dish Mr. Bourdain sampled was Feijoada, which is a traditional dish. It involves meat and black beans. I just knew I had to make this.

I discovered many versions of Feijoada when I searched online for recipes. They all involved pork, all kinds of pork, and black beans. And no seasoning. I guess when you’re talking traditional salt-of-the-earth food, it’s not always about flavor. I really wanted to make this, but I wanted it to taste good. So here’s what I ended up doing:

Feijoada, Mimi’s Way

3 tablespoons canola oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
16 ounces dried black beans, soaked overnight, drained
A few bay leaves
1/2 pound bacon, coarsely chopped
2 – 10 ounce packages chorizo or linguica
2 pounds smoked pork chops
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into pieces
Beef stock
A few bay leaves
Handful of dried jalapeno slices, see too many jalapenos, or 2 diced jalapenos
Powdered corn meal
Chopped fresh cilantro, optional

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the black beans before the meats are added

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook them for about 5 minutes. Add the black beans and all the meats. Then just cover everything with the beef stock. Add a few bay leaves.

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pork shoulder, left, smoked pork chops, right, chorizo, bottom (actually called longaniza)

Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the lid and let everything cool. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the pieces of meat; the chorizo has probably dissolved into the beans. When you serve the Feijoada, the beans are served alongside the meat.

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just before the cooking begins

When the meat has cooled enough to handle, slice it into thick pieces, removing any obvious fat. Remove the bones from the smoked pork chops and coarsely dice them. Place the meat in a sealable bag and refrigerate overnight.

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all of the cooked pork

Check the beans for seasoning, then cover and refrigerate them overnight.

The next day, remove as much fat as you can from atop the beans and discard. Heat the beans and the meat separately. Ladle some hot beans in a pasta-type bowl, serve the meat alongside the beans. Then srinkle everything with the powdered corn meal and fresh cilantro, if you’re using it. I served my husband Feijoada with some creamed garlic spinach; kale would work as well (see very top photo).

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I tend towards beans more than meat, so I had Feijoada without the chunks of pork. I tried the black beans with just the jalapenos and cilantro leaves, above photo,
and also with the powdered cornmeal, below. The cornmeal didn’t make much of a difference, but as you can see, I didn’t add to much. Maybe I could have toasted it first…

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notes: I really didn’t do much to flavor the recipe. I only added the bay leaves and the beef stock for some flavor. Otherwise, Feijoada is just boiled meat and beans, which just sounded bland to me. I have no idea why it looked so good on tv! But honestly, this recipe turned out perfectly. I wouldn’t do it any other way now.

Traditionally, it’s served with orange slices, which I really find fascinating! It must be to offset the heat in the beans. And, Feijoada is sprinkled with toasted manioc flour. That is definitely one pantry item I do not own, so I substituted it with the corn meal powder (I blended cornmeal in a coffee grinder of sorts).

I’m still going to look into cuisines from South America. A good project for 2013!

4 thoughts on “Feijoada

  1. If you can get it, I would recommend toasting gari (grated cassava) and onions in palm oil (huile rouge or dende). You can add a bit of chopped coriander leaves at the end. It makes a fantastic condiment (farofa) which adds crunch and flavor! You can also sauté some shredded greens, which is another nice touch:-)

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