Rachel Dana was our October 2012 Daring Cooks' Challenge hostess! Rachel brought Brazil into our lives by challenging us to make Feijoada and Farofa along with some other yummy side dishes traditionally served with Feijoada, which is a delicious black bean and pork stew.
The Feijoada challenge was a treat - only one of us Chez Monkeyshines had ever had it – and that was many years ago. We have no idea whether we came close, but did enjoy the savory stew – perfect for the cooler days of autumn and winter.
This meal took the better part of a day to put together, but then we had leftovers for several days (delicious lunch!) so it really was worth it. It’s sort of a Brazilian cassoulet – beans and meats cooked slowly in a cauldron. The thing is where cassoulet is a one-pot meal you can’t just make feijoada; you also make collard greens, farofa, rice and vinagrete to serve with it. The dish really did taste best with a little bit of this and a little bit of that so we’re happy we did (mostly) follow the recipes and make the whole kit and caboodle.
2 cups (1 lb) dried black beans (produces about 6 cups of cooked beans)
12 oz chunk bacon (half will be used in the farofa)
2 pounds of mixed meats, we used:
1 ham hock
8 oz Spanish chorizo
6 oz ham
4 bay leaves
3 tablespoons onion-garlic base (actually, I just chopped an onion and added a couple of cloves of garlic to the beans though we later made the onion-garlic base and used it in the rice)
Wash thoroughly, and soak overnight. I rinsed and refreshed the water several times, then later noticed that the recipe said not to (in order to preserve the inky black color). No harm done, the taste is what counts!
I chopped the onion and added it to the beans along with 4-5 garlic cloves, the bay leaves and the ham hock in a dutch oven and cooked a few hours until the beans were tender. the water level when you start cooking should be about an inch over the beans – not much more or you’ll end up with a watery stew.
When the beans were cooked, I removed the ham hock, removed the meat from the bone and returned the meat to the pot of beans.
While the beans are cooking, you can first prepare the onion-garlic base, the recipe is below, and then the (rest of the) meats.
Chop all your bacon into small cubes. Slice your sausages around a ¼ - ½ inch thick. Cut any pork or other meats into 1-inch cubes.
Fry the bacon cubes until nicely crisped. Throw half the bacon into the beans and set the rest aside for the farofa. Pour off and reserve any extra fat – I used some of it in the farofa too.
Next fry the meats individually in the same pan you used for the bacon until well browned then add them to the beans.
Continue simmering until the stew is nice and thick, at least another hours. You can also mash some beans at the bottom of the pot to thicken your liquid. While it cooks, you can prepare the rest of the items.
Note: Our stew came out fairly salty (but not unpleasantly so) as we used only cured meats. As a result we added no additional salt to this or any of the other items we served it with. If you use a different mix of meats – it seems like this is one of those dishes where you should really be using whatever looks good/is on hand – then you may want to season it a bit once the beans are cooked.
We’d never had collard greens and were a bit nervous. We shouldn’t have been – they were quite tasty, a lot like kale, and a perfect accompaniment to the rich, slightly salty stew.
1 bunch collard greens
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp onion-garlic base
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the greens and cut out the stems. Stack the leaves on top of each other and tightly roll them up together. Keep a good hold to keep everything together and slice thinly.
When everything else is ready to serve, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over med-high heat. Add 1onion-garlic base, and let soften for a minute. Add all the collards at once, and stir to coat with oil. You can add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for only about a minute, you just want to them to start to soften, evenly, over quick high heat.
This is enough for later use as well, if you want, you can halve the recipe. We only made a small amount for the greens and the rice…
2 medium white onions
4 large cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon salt
Roughly chop the onions and garlic, then puree everything in a food processor or blender.
Farofa is made with farinha de manioca, yellow yucca flour, cooked in butter until slightly toasted. Less butter will leave it drier, and more butter will make a softer farofa. It is also made with farinha de milho, corn flour, or farinha de rosca, ground up dry breadcrumbs.
You can find mandioca flour at many different Latin American markets. It can be called mandioca flour, mandioc flour, yucca flour, cassava flour, but they should all be the same, though a Brazilian brand would be your best bet.Farofa is best served alongside foods with moisture, such as meats, beans, vinagrete, etc. You can add just about anything to farofa, as long as it doesn’t have moisture, such as any cooked vegetables, meats, or chopped banana.
We made ours with chopped carrot & mild chile peppers instead of the egg. I know it’s not even a remotely close substitute but given Rachel’s leeway described above, we stick with our decision. We also used about half butter, half bacon fat to give it flavor. the result is dry and a bit weird, but a good accompaniment to the rest of the meal. We used the corn flour rather than yucca flour since we already had it on hand.
¼ cup butter
2 large eggs (we used 2 carrots diced & 2 small, mild chiles)
½ cup chopped onion (about ½ medium onion)
6 oz bacon, diced and cooked which was set aside during the feijoada
½ cup yucca flour, corn flour or fine ground cornmeal, or dry breadcrumbs
Melt half of your butter over med-high heat. Add the onions and carrots (if using) and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften. If you want to follow the recipe, crack the two eggs (yuck..)into the pan and lightly break the yolk and spread around, but don’t break up too much.
When the egg has cooked almost fully, break up into med-large pieces. The onions will brown quite a bit under the egg.
Add the cooked bacon, and stir. Add the rest of the butter and stir to melt. Lower the heat to medium, toss in the yucca flour and stir well, it will quickly soak up all the butter and start to stick to the bits.
Cook, stirring for minute, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and keep stirring and cooking until the yucca flour has clumped together nicely and become golden, about 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to brown too much. It should taste toasty.
Vinagrete, like farofa, has many variations and uses. This is a basic recipe, very refreshing and really gives a lift to the final plate.
1 large bell pepper
1 large tomato
1 medium onion
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoon water
2 – 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Dice the bell peppers, tomatoes and onions. Chop your parsley. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir well to combine. Press down on the veggies, the liquid should come almost to the top of the mixture, you want everything pretty much immersed.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
1 cup white long grain rice
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons onion-garlic base
Wash your rice in a sieve and let it dry. Heat oil in pot and add the onion-garlic base, cook for a minute to soften. Add the dried rice and stir-fry for 2 minutes, constantly stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pot or burn. Add enough boiling water so the water comes up 2 fingers over the rice. Cover and simmer for around 20 minutes and turn off heat. Fluff with a fork, cover, and let rest for another 10 minutes.