Laura’s Brazilian Feijoada – the perfect comfort food
Brazil celebrates its national day of independence from Portugal on 7th September. Whilst the vast majority of brasileiros will wisely spend their public holiday soaking up the glorious sunshine at the beach, if you live in the UK and want to join in with the celebrations or if you are simply in need of some comfort food, you can try the next best thing in the form of this delicious dish.
Feijoada is Brazil’s national dish – a huge thick bean stew which contains a variety of cuts of meat. This popular dish is typically eaten at lunchtime on Saturday, and it originates from when the African slaves from Angola and Mozambique were brought over to work the sugar cane plantations in the northeast. It is said that the land owners would distribute sacks of black beans (feijão), rice and any leftover meat including pigs' tails and trotters for the slaves to make their food. It was with these three main food staples; beans, rice and meat that feijoada was created. Today the national dish is eaten and enjoyed by Brazilians from every walk of life and from every part of the country.
There are several variations of this dish; in the northeast for example they use red beans instead of black beans and some families now choose to leave out the pigs' trotters! However, this recipe that I’m passing on to you actually belongs to Carmen Lopes, a carioca (person from Rio) who has lived in England for more than 30 years and who I’m fortunate enough to say is my mother!
- Prep: 15 minutes
- Cook: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- Recipe serves: 5-6
- 500g of black beans (widely available in Sainsburys or Holland Barratt)
- Pig trotters x 2 (salted)
- Chorizo x 1
- Salt beef – approx 200g
- Smoked knuckle x 1
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 2 large white onions
- Soak the beans in cold water overnight.
- In a separate large pot bring the water to the boil and season with bay leaves, one whole onion (unchopped) and garlic. Now drop in the pigs' trotters and let the mixture simmer for about an hour. You’ll see that the pigs trotters will become gelatinous. Remove the trotters from the pan and when cool, discard all the little bones.
- In the same pan that you have cooked the pigs' trotters, add the soaked beans which should now have puffed up. Cut the salt beef and chorizo into bite size pieces and add to the pot. Place the knuckle also into the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and allow to cook on a low heat for about 30-40 minutes.
- Now remove the pot from the heat and take out the knuckle. Return the pot back to the heat – without the lid – and let the stew simmer. When the knuckle is cool enough to handle, trim away the excess fat and shred into large pieces.
- Return the meat to the pot. The stew will develop a crust on top – when it does, break it gently with a wooden spoon and stir. Continue this action repeatedly for 1-2 hours.
- In a frying pan gently heat a generous amount of olive or vegetable oil. Fry some very finely chopped onion on a very low heat for about an hour or until caramelised. Add a clove of finely chopped garlic and once all the flavours have blended in, scrape the onions, garlic and oil into the bean stew.
- Serve with white rice, salad, spring greens and segments of orange.
Note: Most Portuguese butchers around Brixton and Stockwell (SE London) will sell the various cuts of meat in a bag ready for you to add to the beans. Selfridges also sells cooked pig’s trotters in a bag with the gelatine ready to add to the bean stew.