Historians believe that Feijoada originated in Northern Portugal and was brought to Brazil during colonization. The Portuguese version is very similar to the Brazilian staple; one differentiation is that Portuguese use white or kidney beans instead of black beans. Feijoada can be as easy or as complex as you want , depending on the meats you choose. If you feel intimidated by the ingredients, I recommend starting on the simpler side then graduating as you get more comfortable. Whatever you choose, you’ll still end up with a happy belly!
The meats are really what brings the flavor to this dish. Without it, the recipe would taste like seasoned beans. Choose various smoky sausages – spicy,, sweet – salted meats, and pork to bring different tastes and textures.
This dish tastes better the next day after the flavours really have a chance to mingle. It also freezes well.
If the stew seems thin and watery, remove a ½ cup of the cooked beans, mash well with a fork, and stir it back into the stew.
For added depth, season the pork belly and rib pieces with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Pat dry before browning.
You can cook your beans separately and add them to the pot after the meats are almost tender in step 4. One of the things I love about feijoada is it’s one of the few dishes I make where I can put everything in one pot and get about my business.
Suggested servings, hot fluffy rice, orange slices, cabbage and cilantro salad, fried sweet plantains, sautéed collard greens, or farofa (toasted cassava flour)
Use at least 3 varieties of the following cuts plus a smoky sausage for a total of 3 to 5 pounds. If you would like a little of everything, here are suggested quantities:
1 smoked ham shank or ham hock, approximately 1 to 1 ½ pounds
1 pound fresh pork belly, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound baby back ribs, cut between the ribs
½ pound carne seca or corned beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 salted pig tails
¼ pound bacon slab, cut in to ½ inch cubes
1 ½ pounds smoky sausage e.g. chorizo or linguiça, sliced ¼-inch thick
5 tablespoons oil (any high smoke point oil)
1 pound dried black beans, debris removed and rinsed
2 medium onions, medium chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large bay leaves
Freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
6 cups water or stock (pork, ham or beef) – you may not need the entire volume
1. Soak the following for 8 hours up to overnight in the refrigerator
Black beans: cover with at least 4 cups cold water. Reserve the water the next day for cooking
Carne seca/corned beef and pig tails: rinse well and place in separate bowls. Cover with water and change the water 2 to 3 times. Discard the water after soaking.
2. In a skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil. Sauté the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt, stirring often until the onions are soft and sweet, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. Choose a large, heavy pot that will fit all your ingredients. Place over medium-high heat. With the remaining oil, brown the following meats in batches: pork belly, ribs, carne seca or corned beef, bacon, and sausage.
4. Add the ham shoulder, pig tails, sautéed onion mix, bay leaves, paprika, cumin, coriander, and the black beans with its reserved water to pot with the browned meats. Add enough water or stock to cover all the ingredients by 1 inch. Stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours until the beans are soft and the meats are cooked. Stir occasionally, adding more water or stock as needed to keep the ingredients covered. Remove the ham shank/hock when cooked, cut the meat into small pieces, and return the meat to the pot.
5. The feijoada should have plenty of liquid at the end but should not be thin. If needed, thicken with a ½ cup of mashed beans. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.