Tonight we had a typical Brazilian dish we, as a family, tend to reserve for cooler weather. Seeing as cooler weather isn't happening and Jorge was nagging, we had it anyway.
Feijoada is a dish that originated with the slaves here. The slave owners would give the slaves no good meat, only the offal... the pig's tails, ears, snouts, etc. With this meat, they were given beans... either black beans or sugar beans, as a cheap form of protein. From this comes one of Brazil's most well-known and well-loved dishes, best served with caipirinha.
Here is a recipe for feijoada I found online some time back when I was looking for 'the genuine article'. Few people make it with offal now. I personally wouldn't touch it made with the likes of ears and snouts. The main ingredients are salt beef, Italian sausage (calabresa), bacon and stewing beef... and of course the beans. The dish is meant to take up to 3 days to prepare, but I do it overnight. Its a dish designed to feed the entire extended family. We're only 3 people, so I scale it down drastically and we eat it over 2 to 3 days. Traditionally, Feijoada is served on a Wednesday and Saturday, regardless of the season or the temperature outside. How they can function on a hot day after eating a hot stew at noon is beyond me.
Don't let the very long process put you off if you want to try it. My quick way tastes just as good and I most Brazilians I have met do it the abbreviated way, which I posted below the main recipe.
1lb carne seca
1 smoked beef tongue (1 ¾lb)
1 salted pork rump (1 ¾lb)
1lb salted pork ribs
½lb salted slab bacon
1lb pig's trotters
2lb dried black or sugar beans
1 medium onion
4 bay leaves
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
In a large stock pot, add the carne seca, tongue, pork rump and ribs. Cover generously with water and stand for 24 hours, changing water once or twice. In another stockpot, add bacon and trotters. Cover with water, stand for 24 hours, changing water once or twice. In a large pot, combine beans and cold water; cover and set aside. Soak for a minimum of 6 hours, preferably overnight.
Take meat and beans out. Wash out the meat pots and add carne seca, tongue, ribs and trotters to one. Put pork rump in a separate pot. Cover meat in both pots and bring to boil - + 5 minutes. Remove meat, drain water and repeat the process 4 times. Boil bacon over high heat for 5 minutes in another pot. Drain and set aside. Prick sausages with a fork and set aside. Boil sausages separately. Reduce heat and simmer calabresa for 5 minutes and linguiça for 10 minutes. Remove sausages and drain water. Brown sausages on both sides. Drain the beans, add onion and bay leaves in a large pot. Cover with water by 8". Bring to boil; simmer covered for 1½ hours. Add bacon and continue cooking, covered, for 1½ hours.
(To test the readiness of the beans, remove one bean. Press with thumb onto a board and rub along. Bean should be smooth and pasty)
In a small skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic mixture, salt and pepper to beans. Add meat and sausage to beans. Bring to boil and simmer, partially covered for 1 - 1½ hours, stirring from time to time. Keep checking the liquid level - add boiling water as needed to keep level at 8". Remove meat from beans and cool. Cover separately and refrigerate.
Remove from fridge. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add beans and meat and enough cold water to cover by 8". Cove and bring mixture to a simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Cut meat onto serving dishes. Pour a cup or two of bean liquid over meat. Place beans in a large ceramic bowl and serve with rice.
My method? I presoak the sugar beans and salt beef (if I have it) overnight. In South Africa, I simply left the salt beef out. The next evening, I put the beans, stewing meat, calabresa (in SA, I chose Russian sausage as an equivalent. Any spicy sausage will do), and bacon in the pot. Season and cover with water. I use a pressure cooker, but I'm sure a slow cooker will work magic or you cook it for 3 hours. In the pressure cooker, I cook it for about an hour and a half. I then cook up some rice and serve the feijoada over the rice.
With supper filling our bellies, I fully expected to spend the evening relaxing, but Jorge decided he couldn't find his belt. We virtually emptied out the bedroom cupboard with no luck. Turns out, it was on the ironing board, under the hot water bottle, which is put there in the hopes of a night cold enough to warrant it.