This is probably the ultimate Brazilian comfort food! I was first introduced to feijoada (pronounced fay-ZHWA-dah) a few years ago while I was living in Miami. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a family dinner by some dear friends from Rio, and feijoada was one of the delicious items on the menu. It was so so good!
There are many variations of this hearty, traditional stew, but almost all include black beans with a mixture of salted, smoked and fresh meats. And however it’s prepared, it’s always rich and comforting, making it just perfect for a family get together.
This is the recipe we follow at home, adapted from Emeril Lagasse. We try to make it as authentic as possible (allowing for the fact we don’t always have easy access to certain cuts of meat and that neither of us is Brazilian :). But either way, I can say with certainty that this version makes for an absolutely delicious meal.
Total time required:
Prep time: 35 mins
Cooking time: 3 hrs
What you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 2 tablespoons+ chopped garlic
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound choriço sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 pound carne seca or other salted cured beef, soaked overnight and cubed or 1 pound salt pork cut into cubes
- 1 pound baby back spareribs, cut into individual ribs
- 1 pound black beans
- 10 cups water
To begin with, add some oil to a large heavy-bottom saucepan, over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic and fresh bay leaves to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes.
Then add the sausage and continue to cook for a further 4 minutes.
Next, add the cubed beef/pork, ribs, beans and water. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the beans are tender (this should take about 2 1/2 hours). During this time, continue to add water as necessary to keep the beans covered. Once the beans are soft enough, use the back of a ladle to mash about a quarter of them – doing this helps to create a more rich and thick texture. At this stage you can re-season with salt and pepper if needed.
Don’t forget that beans absorb salt as they cook, so try to go a bit light on salt in the early stages of the cooking process.
TIP: as an optional step prior to getting started, put the black beans in a bowl large enough to hold them and cover with water. Let them soak for an hour or two and reserve the soaking liquid, which will turn quite dark after a while, to use in place of plain water – it’s more flavorful.
Once your stew is ready to serve, do a final taste test and add further salt/pepper if desired.
We serve our feijoada with white rice and collard greens (sauteed with garlic) on the side. A splash of hot sauce and/or vinegar over the entire plate is a tasty addition too. I know that my husband is also dying to try his hand at making some farofa to sprinkle on top, but cassava flour is surprisingly hard to come by in suburban Atlanta!
Well there you have it! A delicious, hearty stew that’s just perfect for sharing with friends and family.