Feijoada was the perfect workingman’s food, made with unwanted cuts of meat like the ears and snout of pigs, bulked out cheaply with black beans that were native to Brazil and cooked long and slow over the fire as the day’s work was done.
It’s a dish that requires some time and love to make, from soaking the beans overnight to simmering the stew over low heat in a traditional thick, black clay pot.
(Brazilian Black Bean Soup)
2 cups dried black beans
8 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 thick slice of bacon
1 linguica or kielbasa sausage (15-20cm)
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped cilantro and green onion to garnish
1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water or use this quick-boil method: Place the beans in a saucepan and add cold water till the beans are covered by about an inch of water. Bring the beans to a brisk boil over medium-high heat and let them boil for a minute, then remove the pan from heat. Cover the pan and let the beans soften for an hour, then drain.
2. Put the beans in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan with water, bay leaves, bacon and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes to an hour until the beans are very tender. Let the mixture cool in the saucepan.
3. Remove the sausage from the bean mixture, slice thinly and reserve. Remove the bacon from the bean mixture, chop into small pieces and reserve.
4. In a heavy frying pan, heat up the olive oil, add the onions and sweat them for a bit before adding the garlic. Stiry-fry till softened, then add the bacon and sausage bits, stir-frying till fragrant.
5. Add the bacon and sausage mixture into the saucepan with the bean mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Return saucepan to heat, bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 mins. Remove from heat. Let cool for 15 minutes, then carefully blend the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth.
7. Return to heat to bring the mixture back to serving temperature.
8. To serve, ladle into small bowls or cups and garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions. You may also add additional garnishes such as chopped hard-boiled eggs or Mexican-style pico de gallo.