Derived from the word feijao, meaning 'beans', this hearty stew introduced by the Portuguese in the mid-1500s, bears some similarity to a French cassoulet. Over the decades, this national dish of Brazil has evolved to include sun-dried and smoked meats, as well as the traditional salted pork offcuts and an array of side dishes such as rice, collard greens and fresh oranges, and condiments like toasted cassava flour (farofa).
- 800 g (4 cups) black beans (see note)
- 250 g salt-dried beef (see note)
- 250 g smoked pork ribs, halved through the bone (see note)
- 250 g speck or lightly smoked pork belly (see note), cut into 2cm pieces
- 1 smoked linguiça (see note) or chorizo, halved lengthwise, sliced
- 800 g smoked pork hock
- 400 g pork scotch (neck) fillet, cut into 5 cm pieces
- 2 pig’s tails (see note), washed, cut into 5 cm pieces (optional)
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 jalapeño or long green chillies, finely chopped
- steamed white rice, cooked cavolo nero (Tuscan cabbage) or silverbeet, orange segments and chopped coriander, to serve
Farofa (toasted cassava flour)
- 60 g butter
- 1 small onion, grated
- 120 g (1 cup) cassava flour (see note)
- 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
- 1 jalapeño or long green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soak beans in a large bowl with enough cold water for beans to double in size and remain immersed. Refrigerate overnight. Place beef in a separate bowl and soak in cold water overnight, changing the water four times.
Rinse and drain beans and beef. Slice beef into 2 cm pieces and place in a large stockpot with beans. Add remaining meats and 2 bay leaves, cover completely with cold water and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, skimming any scum from the surface, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, remove stems from remaining 2 bay leaves, and roughly chop. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the leaves with a pinch of sea salt until ground.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, chillies and bay leaf mixture, and cook for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Using a slotted spoon, remove 1 cup beans from feijoada and add to the onion mixture. Roughly mash, then add mixture to feijoada and stir to combine. (Mash more beans if you prefer a thicker stew.)
Cover and cook for a further hour, then remove pork hock. Once cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin and bones, and roughly shred meat. Return pork to feijoada and stir to combine. (Depending on the size of your pan and the amount of water added, you can cook feijoada, uncovered, for another hour to further develop flavour and to thicken it. Or, you can add more water, if desired; the beans should be bursting.) Season with salt.
To make farofa, melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 6 minutes or until soft. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until flour turns golden. Stir in coriander and chilli, and season.
Serve feijoada with rice, cavolo nero and orange segments, with farofa and coriander scattered over.
Black beans are from Asian food shops and delis.
Salt-dried beef, smoked pork ribs and smoked pork belly are from selected delis and continental food shops. Ask your butcher to cut the ribs through the bone for you.
Linguiça, from selected delis, is a Portuguese smoke-cured pork sausage that’s seasoned with spices and garlic.
Order the pig’s tails from your butcher.
Cassava flour is available from South American and African food shops.
DRINK Caipirinha made with Cachaça 51 ($47, 700 ml)
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 10, pg54
Photography by John Laurie.