Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, is, like the country itself, a rich stew of Portuguese, African, and Native American influences. To be truly authentic feijoada should contain smoked pig’s tongue and carne seca, a Brazilian dried beef. My simplified version contains neither which I couldn’t find anyway. Traditionally, feijoada is served with rice, kale, and farofa or toasted yucca flour. I substitute spinach for the kale but I strongly urge you get some yucca flour, also known as manioc flour, because without its taste and texture feijoada is just not the same.
- 1 pound dried black (turtle) beans
- 2 slices of smoked bacon, chopped
- 8 ounces chourico, a Portuguese sausage widely available in the Northeast.
- 8 to 10 ounces pickled pork shoulder or plain pork shoulder
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp. oil
- Salt as needed
Rinse and pick over the beans then put in a pressure cooker with water to cover by 1½ inches (if you do not have a pressure cooker just put the beans in a large pot and double the cooking time). Cook at 15 psi for 20 minutes. Cool according to manufacturer’s instructions and put the beans and cooking liquid into a large pot or Dutch oven.
Render the bacon in a mid-sized cast iron skillet until crispy. Remove to the pot with the bean leaving as much fat behind as possible. Set the skillet and fat aside for use making farofa. If you will not be making farofa save the bacon fat for another use. Slice the chourico into ¼-inch rounds and add to the pot along with the pickled pork cut into 1-inch cubes. Add the bay leaves, cover, and cook gently for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the garlic until fragrant but not burned, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 1 cup of the beans from the pot to the skillet, returning any meat to the pot. Mash the beans and garlic together and stir into the pot. Correct seasoning, cover, and set over very low heat while preparing rice, spinach, and farofa.
Originally from West Africa, farofa is very popular in Brazil as an accompaniment and stuffing for poultry. It is usually made from a coarse cassava flour known as either yucca or manioc flour. The flour is toasted in hot fat, either butter, bacon fat, or palm kernel oil, with scallion, egg, or other ingredients mixed in. I make mine by cooking the manioc in rendered bacon fat with crispy bacon and scallion for flavoring.
1 slice bacon, chopped, plus the bacon fat from a couple other slices or butter or palm oil
1 or 2 scallions, chopped, including the tender green parts
½ cup manioc flour
Cook the bacon in a small cast iron skillet until it is crispy and the fat has rendered out. Add the remaining fat. When hot put in the manioc flour stir to coat with the fat. Add the chopped scallion and cook, stirring constantly until the manioc is golden brown.