10/14/2012

Feijoada - A Brazilian Feast for Daring Cooks

This is not to be confused with Black Bean Soup, which I and probably most of you have made many times.  What we have here is a cultural happening, a Brazilian feast comparable to Thanksgiving, for which one dish is not sufficient.  You don't just serve turkey.  At Thanksgiving there should be cranberries, sweet potatoes, stuffing....etc. etc.  Right?  It's like that.

Rachel Dana was our October 2012 Daring Cooks' Challenge hostess! Rachel brought Brazil into our lives by challenging us to make Feijoada and Farofa along with some other yummy side dishes traditionally served with Feijoada, which is a delicious black bean and pork stew.

Accompaniments to the main dish are Farofa (made with cassava flour), collards, (in my case kale since there were no collards) Vinaigrette (sort of pickled salad), sliced oranges, rice, and hot sauce.

For the pork in my Feijoada, part of it anyway, I used a "shoulder blade?" acquired by my friend Nancy's husband, from a naughty, roving wild boar, caught disturbing their gardens, and who came to a well deserved rest in our stew pots.

 I brined that chunk of meat with fresh sage, juniper berries, peppercorns and garlic.  And along with the blade, I used pork sausages and bacon.  All the meats are fried and browned separately before being added to the nearly cooked beans.

With this meal, it helps if you prepare it on a relatively free day.  I did it mostly Saturday, and spread out the prep time, doing things early and setting them aside.  Soaking the beans and brining the pork was begun the night before.

And actually,  I made my kale dish the night before as well.  We had some with our steaks  and there was plenty left to reheat for this extravaganza.  I like the method of par-boiling, after removing the stems and slicing thinly, then quick stir-frying in olive oil with garlic, salt and a bit of lemon.

In the morning while my beans started cooking, I made the garlic and onion base (see recipe below) and then the Vinaigrette.

This is a lovely, colorful side which can rest until dinner, conmingling flavors in the fridge while you rest between fixing all the various parts of your meal.

The Farofa comes together very quickly, while your stew is in the last few minutes of simmering or just sitting there all nice and hot with a cover.

I have to say that the Feijoada surprised me a bit, there weren't a whole lot of additional flavoring agents aside from the pork, beans, garlic and onions.  But the flavor rocked.  Just awesome.  Altogether, a marvelous meal and cultural experience as well, thanks to Rachel, our intrepid Brazilian leader. All her recipes will follow.  Everything you need for your own authentic feast.
Feijoada - Brazilian Black Bean Stew

The whole deal, including sides of collards, Farofa and pickled veggies
Notes: From Daring Cooks October 2012

Beans:
• If you soak the beans, do NOT drain the liquid, don’t take away this flavor and color.
• The goal is a nice thick flavorful liquid, which was my (only) fault. Just let your water cook down more than mine, or mash some beans at the bottom to thicken.

Meat:
• 1st, types of meat used here. .
• I’ve used 2 types of linguiças, which are smoked pork sausages. Chorizos or other smoked sausages will work.
• The raw cut of pork is called pernil, which is a pork thigh, or what I believe to be fresh ham.
• Try to get a big thick cut of bacon, one that has a good portion of meat that you can separate and dice up and a good portion of fat to use for frying. If this isn’t possible, strips of bacon will do.
• The pork ribs I bought were salted, you can used smoked, and I imagine that unsalted ribs will work…
• Make sure you know if you’ve bought salted meat and if you need to soak it. I had this problem.
• With any salted meat, NOT including bacon and sausages, soak in a lot of water, either overnight, or first thing before you start your beans, and change the water at least 6 times. It was the first thing I did, and I left it for the last meat to fry, and it turned out great.
• Meats like bacon and smoked sausage, strong flavored meats, these will really add flavor to your final feijoada!
• Fry all your meat until well cooked and browned, seal those guys up. You want your sausage pieces brown, you want your pork well done, ribs cooked through, etc. Brown brown brown.
• You want to avoid as much fat as possible in the final feijoada. Drain well on paper towels, pat dry, etc., after frying. I also cut off any excess fat from my pork.

Farofa:
• I talk a lot about farofa below, but I want to get into here too. You can find yucca/mandioca flour at any Brazilian (and possibly Portuguese) market, probably a lot of south and Latin American countries, and some Latin American markets. Don’t be shy about buying a packet of yucca flour, you’ll want to play around and I can suggest other uses, including cakes.
• If you can’t find yucca/mandioca flour, corn flour or a nicely ground cornmeal can be used, or dry breadcrumbs. I think this makes it doable for practically everyone.

Collard Greens:
If collards aren’t in season where you are, you can use kale, spinach, mustard greens, beet greens, chard greens, I think any dark green tougher leaf.

 Soaking any salted meats (don’t soak bacon or sausage please): 2 hours – overnight
The whole feijoada process takes about 4-5 hours, but you probably won’t be working the whole time, this is based on soaking and simmering.
It takes about an hour to prepare your meats. 15 minutes to prepare the farofa, 15 minutes to prepare the vinagrete. 10 minutes to prepare the collard greens. The rice should be rinsed and set to dry beforehand, then 30 minutes to cook. Onion-garlic base takes about 10 minutes. There are quite a few components but it’s all very simple actually.

• For this feijoada recipe I used a 5 quart (5 litre) pot, and it was just big enough

Feijoada
Servings: 6

I made this recipe for just 2 and we ate leftovers the next day, and will finish it off tomorrow.

Ingredients
2 cups (500 ml) (½ kg) (1 lb) dried black beans (produces about 6 cups of cooked beans)
350 gm (12 oz) chunk bacon (half will be used in the farofa)
Around 1 kilogram (2 pounds) of mixed meats, I used:
150 gm (5 oz) linguiça calabresa (smoked pork sausage)
200 gm (7 oz) paio (smoked pork loin sausage)
500 gm (18 oz) salted pork ribs
150 gm (5 oz) pernil (fresh ham, pork thigh)
4 bay leaves
3 tablespoons (15 ml) onion-garlic base (see recipe below)

Directions:

Salted meat:
Cover in water and rub, pour out water, refill and let soak. This can be done overnight, or first thing, before starting the beans. This will give a few hours of soaking and change the water at least 6 times. These are the ribs…

Beans:
Wash thoroughly, put in a (5 litre) 5 quart (or bigger) pot, fill with water so that water is twice as high as the beans. Bring to a boil, let boil for a minute, turn off and cover. Let soak for an hour.
(Alternately, if you are familiar or have your own method of cooking beans, such as a pressure cooker, cook until they start to lose their hardness but are still firm).
After an hour, uncover. The beans will have soaked up the water and doubled in size. Add another 1-2 liters (4 -8 cups) of water so the beans are completely covered, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for an hour or so, until the beans have softened, but are still firm.

Add more water if it boils down below the beans, if you do this, remember to bring it back to a boil and turn down the heat to simmer.

While the beans are soaking and cooking, you can first prepare the onion-garlic base, the recipe is below, and then the meats.
We have calabresa smoked sausage, paio smoked sausage, a nice block of bacon, charque, which is a carne seca (sun dried and salted beef), then salted pork ribs, and in the middle, pernil, which is pork thigh, fresh ham. The charque never made it in the pot, I have to say I wasn’t happy, it was such a beautiful piece of meat. I didn’t realize it was salted and I actually didn’t know how to cook it. Since I wasn’t able to prepare it correctly, I don’t feel comfortable trying to pass on the instructions, so no carne seca. But if anyone wants to jump in…

Chop all your bacon into small cubes. Slice your sausages around a ¼ - ½ inch (6 -12 mm) thick. Cut any pork or other meats into 1-inch (25 mm) cubes. Divide your ribs into pieces that will at least fit into your pot, the size is your choice.

Put the bacon fat over high heat in a large frying pan. If you really don’t want to use bacon fat, which I recommend, you can use any vegetable oil that takes high heat. You want around a ¼ cup (60 ml) of grease, cover your pan well. Take out the piece of bacon fat after enough fat as liqudified and put aside for later, in case you need more. I needed it for the ribs.

Next you have to fry all your meat in a very hot pan, until well browned and cooked through. Cook each type of meat separately, but in the same pan, and remember to drain well on paper towels, patting the tops as well to take off any excess fat.

First fry the bacon until nice and brown and chewy, and set aside half to use later in the farofa. Then fry the sausages, the pork, the ribs, and any other meat. I did the ribs last because they had been soaking in water.
Really make sure each piece of meat is well sealed and cooked through, the bacon and sausage took about 5 minutes, the pork around 10, and the ribs around 15. Make sure that you have plenty of fat in the pan to fry the ribs so they cook through.

At this point, if your beans aren’t ready, you can relax, or prepare the vinagrete, the recipe is below.

When the beans have cooked to the point of being softened but still firm and your onion-garlic base and meats are ready, you can continue.

Add to the beans 3 tablespoons of the onion-garlic base, 4 bay leaves, and your meat. Add enough water to make sure everything is just covered.

Continue simmering until beans are done, which took me another 2 hours. After about 10 minutes, check the liquid to see if it’s salty enough for your liking. Depending on what meats you are using, the salt will have released into the liquid… if this hasn’t happened add a bit more salt, you want to taste the salt in your liquid, but it shouldn’t be too strong. This is a matter of taste as well. The water will start to boil down, for the first hour you should keep the water level to just the top of everything, but not completely covered. But you want your liquid to thicken, so start letting the water get lower and lower, with everything at least mostly immersed. You can also mash some beans at the bottom of the pot to thicken your liquid.

If you haven’t already, prepare your vinagrete, it’s nice to let it soak up flavor in the fridge for a while. While the feijoada is simmering you can also chop your collards, prepare the ingredients for your farofa, and slice your oranges.

Collard Greens
Servings: 2-4

To go with feijoada you need collard greens, it’s a perfect combination. You can chop these now, but cook them last, right before serving.

Wash 4 collard leaves, cut out the stem, and cut in half. Stack all the halves on top of each other and tightly roll them up together. Keep a good hold to keep everything together and start slicing very thin through the tube to get nice fine slices of collards.  When everything else is ready to serve, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over med-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of onion-garlic base, and let soften for a minute. Add all the collards at once, and stir to coat with oil.

You can add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for only about a minute, you just want to them to start to soften, evenly, over quick high heat. And done.

Hot Sauce

Take a spoonful of your favorite pepper sauce, I would say something simple, it could be Tabasco, something that you think will go well with black beans and pork. We use malagueta pepper and mash up some of the little peppers. Add a few spoonfuls of the liquid from your ready feijoada, and a spoonful of your vinagrete, and mix together in a little bowl.

Slice a couple of oranges for people to be able to grab when they need a refresher.

I think it’s better to let your feijoada cook until it’s ready, the beans are soft but firm, the liquid is a bit cooked down, thickened and tasty. Then turn off the heat, half cover, and prepare everything else, rice, farofa, hot sauce, and last, collards. If needed, re-heat your feijoada for a few minutes while you make the collards, then serve.

Onion-Garlic Base
This is enough for later use as well, if you want, you can halve the recipe.

Ingredients
2 medium white onions
4 large cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (18 gm) (2/3 oz) salt
You want a paste, roughly chop the onions and garlic, then puree everything in a food processor or blender.

Farofa
Servings: 2-4

Farofa is one of the best things Brasil has to offer. Normally, it is made with farinha de manioca, yellow yucca flour, cooked in butter until slightly toasted. Less butter will leave it drier, and more butter will make a softer farofa. It is also made with farinha de milho, corn flour, or farinha de rosca, ground up dry breadcrumbs. You can use other things I imagine, they use panko where I work.

You can find mandioca flour at many different Latin American markets. It can be called mandioca flour, mandioc flour, yucca flour, cassava flour, but they should all be the same, though a Brazilian brand would be your best bet. Make sure not to buy ready-made farofa, “farofa pronta”, this is already toasted, no fun.

Since corn flour differs around the world, I asked my mom, who lives in Las Vegas, to test the recipe below with corn flour from the US. She bought Red Mills stone ground corn flour and followed my recipe. There is a photo below, it looks perfect and she says it reminded her of the one I made with yucca flour. I’ve made farofa with dry breadcrumbs as well, and it was delicious.

Farofa is best served alongside foods with moisture, such as meats, beans, vinagrete, etc. You can add just about anything to farofa, as long as it doesn’t have moisture, such as any cooked vegetables, meats, and the best, chopped banana. I’ve added some suggestions below.

Ingredients
¼ cup (60 ml) (60 gm/2 oz) butter
2 large eggs
½ cup (120 ml) chopped onion (about ½ medium onion)
175 gm (6 oz) fresh bacon, fried, which was set aside during the feijoada
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) yucca flour, corn flour or fine ground cornmeal, or dry breadcrumbs

Directions:
Melt half of your butter, 2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz), over med-high heat. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften. Crack the two eggs into the pan and lightly break the yolk and spread around, but don’t break up too much.
When the egg has cooked, almost fully, break up into med-large pieces. The onions will brown quite a bit under the egg, but I like this flavor. Add the cooked bacon, and stir. Add the rest of the butter, 2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz), and stir to melt. Lower the heat to medium, toss in the yucca flour and stir well, it will quickly soak up all the butter and start to stick to the eggs, onion, and bacon.

Cook, stirring for minute, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and keep stirring and cooking until the yucca flour has clumped together nicely and become golden, about 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to brown too much. Taste it, it should taste toasty but don’t let it burn! Taste test works here, think of frying breadcrumbs.  Banana farofa is one of my favorite things ever. The pieces of banana get coated in a crunchy buttery loveliness.

Really feel free to have fun with your farofa, this is one of the reasons I was so keen to share it. Make farofa de banana to serve with a nice pork loin. Add green olives, corn, peas, asparagus pieces, sausage, ham, herbs, things like this that are leftover in your fridge, etc., etc. Add more butter for a softer farofa that can be eaten alone (that’s what my mom wants to do).

Vinagrete
Servings: 6

Vinagrete, like farofa, has many variations and uses. This is a basic recipe, I used yellow bell pepper and chopped arugula, very refreshing and really gives a lift to the final plate. Farofa and vinagrete often go together and are my man’s favorite food.

Ingredients
1 large bell pepper (capsicum), diced, about 1½ cups
1 large tomato, diced, about 1 cup
1 medium onion, diced, about 1 cup
½ cup (120 ml) white wine vinegar
¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
2 tablespoon (15 ml) water
2 tablespoons – 4 tablespoons chopped parsley or arugula (rocket)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Chop the bell peppers, tomatoes and onions into small/medium pieces. Chop your parsley or arugula. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir well to combine. Press down on the veggies, the liquid should come almost to the top of the mixture, you want everything pretty much immersed.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

I think a nice young chopped summer squash would be good, and it’s delicious with boiled whole quail eggs. I’ve seen it served with mussels, different meat dishes, it goes with many a meal.

White Rice
Servings: 4

Ingredients
1 cup (250 ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) white long grain rice
3 tablespoons (45 ml) oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) onion-garlic base
boiling water

Directions:

Wash your rice in a sieve and let it dry. Heat oil in pot and add the onion-garlic base, cook for a minute to soften. Add the dried rice and stir-fry for 2 minutes, constantly stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pot or burn. Add enough boiling water so the water comes up 2 fingers over the rice. Cover and simmer for around 20 minutes and turn off heat. Fluff with a fork, cover, and let rest for another 10 minutes.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:

The Feijoada stew is good in the fridge for around 5 days. Vinagrete stays good for a week or two. Farofa is good the next day, more if it’s drier and with fewer ingredients.

6 comments:

My name is Andy. said...

Well done. It looks fabulous.

The Garlic Press said...

All the components of your meal look so bright and flavorful. I love that you used wild board!

shelley c. said...

WOW - fresh wild boar? That's truly something!! Your Brazilian feast looks amazing and I am sure it tasted even better. Wonderful job on the challenge!!

Gingered Whisk said...

Awesome job! Your whole feast looks great! And you are right - you can't just have one dish, you have to have them all! :) Great use for that naughty boar, too! There is no higher honor than coming to rest on your table! :)

Elena said...

Thanks! I'll try this Sunday. it looks delicious!

Kim said...

Nicely done! And to have the great fortune to have some wild pork! How lucky you are!