Feijoada (Brazilian black bean stew) is Brazil's national dish for a good reason! It's incredibly delicious, and this version is super easy to make.
Feijoada is considered the national dish of Brazil. It reminds me of family reunion, friends, weekend, nice chatting, and laughter! It is the type of food that you can't get enough.
The story goes that the brazilian feijoada was created by the African slaves living in Brazil. Their masters used the pig for their meals, and threw away the parts that did not interest them, such as ears, tail, feet, etc… The slaves then collected these discarded parts and added them to black beans, thus creating 'feijoada'.
I'm so glad the slaves had this great idea, as I can't imagine Brazil without feijoada. There is nothing better than a good weekend, with a delicious feijoada.
How to make an Easy Feijoada (step by step)
Follow the step by step below for a very easy and tasty feijoada. It takes a little while to be ready, but there is nothing complicated.
Tips for a great Brazilian Feijoada
It is very important to soak the beans. Do not skip this step. First, because it helps to soften the beans. Second, and even more important, because beans have a protein called lectin, which serves to protect the grain from predatory insects. Lectin when ingested can cause some problems, such as: bloating, stomach pain and gas (among other problems).
Thus, the best way to eliminate lectin is to soak the beans, and cook them under pressure.
When soaking, change your water at least once or twice, and do not use this water for cooking. Have you noticed the foam that forms on the water? Wash the beans thoroughly to remove any residue.
When cooking it, always use the pressure cooker. In addition to being much faster, the high heat helps to eliminate this anti-nutrient.
Cuts of meat:
In Brazil, the most common type of meat used in feijoada is "carne seca", a cut of meat that has been dehydrated e salted (a lot). Note that it's not the same as beef jerky. They taste very different.
In many countries it's really hard to find carne seca, so, here in United States, the closest that I could find to replace it is Corned Beef. Although it's not dried, you can cut it into cubes like carne seca, and once it's cooked, the texture is very similar. Just be careful when buying corned beef. Give preference buying the ones that come salted, but have a little packet of spices alongside, so you can discard it. If you buy the corned beef that has already been seasoned with tons of spices, it will give your feijoada a taste that is different from the original.
For the ribs, I buy them boneless, to make life easier, but you can use the bone-in pork ribs if you want. Just cut them in between the bones.
As for sausage, the most traditionally used are the Calabresa and Paio sausages, but I haven't found them in the United States, so from the sausages I've tried, the closest in flavor is the Smoked Kielbasa. Don't use any Italian flavored sausage, as it will change the flavor of your feijoada, drasticaly.
About the different parts of the pig used in Feijoada… well... feel free to use it according to your taste. I don't like using some parts, so the only thing I use to give a really good taste is smoked ham hock or smoked neck. They help to thicken the broth, and the fact that they are smoked is what makes feijoada taste so good. Also, you don't have to eat it. When I use the smoked ham hock I remove it before serving.
How to thicken your feijoada
As soon as everything is finished cooking in the pressure cooker, you'll notice that the feijoada broth is still very thin. Therefore, continue cooking with the lid off, for about 30-40 minutes. This will help to create a thick sauce and combine all the flavors.
If you want to thicken the broth even more, you can separate some of the beans and smash them with a fork to create a paste. Then add this paste back to the feijoada.
Another factor is, the more fatty meats are used, the thicker your liquid will be. So, if you want to limit the fat a little more, use the bean paste technique mentioned above.
Now, let's go to the recipe for this super easy feijoada…
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Feijoada (Brazilian black bean stew)
- 24 oz dried black beans
- 10 cups of water (to cook the beans)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ lb corned beef (just salted meat, discard pack of spices)
- 2 lb Pork ribs (country-style or baby back ribs) (1 lb if boneless)
- 1 lb Smoked Ham hock or smoked neck (or any other smoked pork meat)
- 12 oz Smoked Sausage
- 10 oz sliced bacon (cut into strips)
- 1 red onion (chopped)
- 6 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 3 bay leaves
- salt to taste (if necessary)
- Start by soaking the beans for 12 hours. Drain the water, wash the beans and drain it again.
- Cut corned beef into cubes, and ribs between bones (or into cubes, if boneless). Cut the bacon into pieces, and the sausage into slices. Chop onion and garlic.
- In a large pan, sauté corned beef and ribs in olive oil (you will have to make it in batches). When they are seared, transfer them to a pressure cooker (I like Instant Pot) and add the drained beans, 10 cups of fresh water and smoked meat (in my case I like using smoked neck or ham hock).
- Let it cook on High pressure for 30 minutes (after it gets pressure). When it's done cooking, let it naturally release pressure for 30 minutes.
- While the beans are still cooking, place the bacon in the same pan in which you seared the meat, and fry the bacon in the fat it will release. Once it starts crispening, add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent. Then add sausage and let it cook for a minute. Turn off the heat and wait for the beans and meats to finish cooking in the pressure cooker.
- After the meats and beans are ready, and pressure has been naturally released for 30 minutes, transfer everything to the same big pan, with the sausage, bacon, onion and garlic. Add the bay leaves and adjust salt if necessary. Cook it over medium heat for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until liquid thickens to your liking.Your feijoada is ready! Serve it on a bed of white rice, vinaigrette, farofa and orange slices.Enjoy it!
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