Considered the unofficial dish of Brazil, this hearty yet simple stew is actually an interesting snapshot of Brazilian history, one as old as colonial Brazil itself. The dish has similar variations in other former Portuguese colonies like Angola, Mozambique, and Goa (India), but no trip to Brazil would be complete without trying Feijoada. It is typically eaten with rice, collard greens (fried), roasted cassava, fried bananas on the side and is always followed with fresh orange slices for dessert.
Resembling Southern European stews like the French cassoulet, the Portuguese brought this simple recipe to Brazil centuries ago to feed the many African slaves who worked their plantations with a hearty meal. These slaves, the ancestors of many Brazilians today, have had a strong influence on modern Brazilian culture, and enhanced the simple meat stew to what it is today. Starting in very humble origins, the Feijoada was originally made with off-cuts of meat, provided to the slaves along with beans, but today it’s usually made with pork or beef tenderloin, pork-chops, smoked ribs, steak, bacon, and other, “nicer” cuts of meat, often combined with smoked meats, sausages (chorizo), and vegetables. Brazil’s many kinds of domestic beers go well with the Feijoada, or try their national drink the Caipirinha for the complete experience!
There isn’t one set way of making Feijoada, with the regions of Brazil having their own variations (e.g. different types of beans, meats, vegetables, etc), but here is an easy typical and traditional recipe for you to try at home.
- 1lb dry black beans (if you haven’t cooked dry beans before, try canned, cooked beans instead, and red or white beans can easily substitute black beans)
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and diced
- 3-5 Tbsp of Olive Oil
- 2-6 Bay Leaves
- 1lb pork loin, cut into small pieces
- 1lb corned beef, cut into small chunks, or jerked beef
- 1lb smoked sausage (or kielbasa)
- 1lb fresh sausages (i.e. Chorizo, Italian, etc.)
- ¼lb bacon
*Note 1 pound equals approximately 450grams.
In a medium sized pot, heat beans, 2 Tbsp of oil, salt, garlic, onions, bay leaves for 15 minutes and set aside. Approximately 15 minutes cooking.
Meanwhile pan fry the ‘thick’ meat at low-medium, along with tenderloin, and bacon with salt and garlic to taste. After softening up, add all of the sausages and other meats you have. Add small amount of water to help cooking, but allow the pan to cook off excess water, leaving a stew and not a soup. Approximately 15-20 minutes cooking.
Once the meat is cooked, the water reduced, its now time to add the meat into the pot with the beans, slowly heating and stirring at the same time (at least 10-15 minutes. This allows the flavours of the vegetable and meats to mingle).
Serve hot, along with white rice, collard greens, roasted cassava on the side with fresh sliced oranges.