Before we go any further, I should say that this isn’t a genuine recipe but my take on Brazil’s national dish, pared back from the amount of meat traditionally used and substituting Brazilian sausages and smoked meats for ones easily accessible here. Nevertheless, it’s still a hearty (though quite grey looking) meal which goes well with rice and, if you wish, some fresh and vibrant greens. Traditionally served with or after a caipirinha.
The origin of feijoada goes as far back as the sixteenth century with the introduction of slaves to Brazil. The culinary culture of Africa was mixed with the European food traditions already present in Brazil; the basic bean stew eaten by African slaves was combined with the Portuguese linguiça (sausage). The result was a nourishing dish which lasted a long time and gave the workers the energy they needed, the feijoada!
Serves 4 – 6
200g dried black beans, soaked for 24 hours in a couple of changes of water
3 tbsp oil (olive or sunflower)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
approx. 50g smoked sausage (i.e. kabanos), chopped
500g pork shoulder (in one piece), skin and fat removed
1 green pepper, deseeded and cubed
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
concentrated chicken stock or stock cube
- Start by draining the beans and tipping into a large saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for around 1.5 hours until they are just soft.
- Strain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Put half the beans on one side and blitz the rest to a puree. You may need to use some of the reserved liquid to help puree the beans.
- In a large lidded pan, heat the oil and soften the onions.
- Once the onions have softened add the garlic and cook for a minute or so before adding the bacon and smoked sausage. Let them cook gently for about 5 minutes. You just want to release the flavours but not let the bacon go crispy.
- Add the pork to the pan, seal and coat in the oil and juices.
- Tip in the green pepper and cook for a few minutes more.
- Add the bay leaf, a little salt and a good amount of pepper then pour in the pureed beans, whole beans, the stock and 200ml of the reserved bean cooking liquid.
- Stir well, bring to the boil then put the lid on and simmer gently for around 2 hours. Stir occasionally and, if it is getting too thick and dry, add a little more of the bean cooking liquid.
- By this time the meat will be tender. Remove it from the pan and, using a couple of forks, shred it then return it to the pan.
- Stir well, check for seasoning and that you’re happy with the texture (it should be thick and hearty but feel free to add more liquid if you wish) then serve.