I am an ornery cuss. Not only do I give you a hearty, wintry, braise-all-day-long meat & bean stew on a 60-degree Saturday in January, but I got dozens of great black bean ideas from you folks following my call for inspiration on the Facebook page, yet I ignored them all to try feijoada. Like I said: ornery. (Which must always be pronounced “orn-ree” for maximum authenticity.)
Feijoada is a traditional meat and bean stew: according to Hank Shaw, black beans make it Brazilian, white beans mean Portugal. Due to the crazy-busy holiday season, I’ve missed my farmer’s market for several weeks in a row, and the larder was pretty bare: a single onion, not even a full head of garlic, and as for fresh vegetables, we were down to a couple of Tai’s monster carrots in the fridge. We did, however, have plenty of pork in the freezer following a pre-Christmas delivery from Flying Pigs, a pound of local, organic black beans from Gianforte Farm, courtesy of Wild Hive, and several pints of my favorite fire-roasted tomatoes in the pantry-cum-garage.
As usual, I made several modifications to the original recipe, both to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand and my personal preference. I have to say, while this stew is tasty, it’s not a personal favorite: even though I cut way down on the amount of meat in the recipe, it still seemed too meaty to me (newsflash, Kaela: Brazilian meat stew is meaty. Film at 11.). And while I eliminated the ham hock, because I did not have one in the house, I think the stew could have used some of that smoky flavor: were I to make it again, I would cut back on the pork, subsitute in some linguica for the fresh sausage, and include the ham hock for added flavor. I also think some oregano would be a good addition. All that said, the flavor is good, and the long, slow braise made the meat incredibly succulent and tender: this is a great recipe for those difficult (yet thrifty!) cuts of meat that require many hours of cooking to yield up flavor and tenderness. I do think that a Portuguese version appeals to me more: white beans, linguica, some cayenne-dusted pork shoulder. But I would probably amp up the vegetables with kale, root veg, maybe some cauliflower or potatoes, making it something completely not feijoada. Like I said: ornery.
- 1 lb dry black beans, cooked (see Hank’s original for making the stew directly with dried beans)
- 2 tbsp bacon grease (or olive oil)
- 1 lb spicy sausage, fresh or cured, or a combination (I used Mike’s Grandmother’s Hot Italian sausage from Flying Pigs), sliced to 1-inch lengths
- 1 and 1/2 lbs pork cutlet, sliced to 1-inch pieces (or fresh ham steaks, or pork shoulder, cubed)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
- 1/4 cup red wine, for deglazing (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- filtered water
- 1 pint fire-roasted tomatoes
- salt and ground cayenne pepper, to taste
- cooked rice, for serving
- In a large, heavy Dutch oven, heat the bacon grease until shimmering, then lightly brown the sausage pieces, cooking in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan. Remove sausage to a clean plate once browned. Add more bacon grease if necessary (or pour off any sausage grease in excess of 2 – 3 tbsp), and brown the pork pieces in batches, removing to a clean plate as browned.
- Add onions and garlic to the pot, and sauté over low heat, scraping up browned meat bits as you cook, until vegetables are quite soft, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of salt (about 1/2 tsp) over the onions. Raise heat to medium, and if desired, deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine, scraping up any remaining browned bits on the pan. Return meat to the pan, add bay leaves, and add filtered water to just barely cover the meat. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover, reduce heat, and simmer meat gently for about 1 hour.
- Drain cooked black beans, reserving pot liquor. Add black beans and tomatoes to meat, stirring well to break up tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, until meat is falling-apart tender, about 2 hours. Stir now and then, and add black bean pot liquor as needed for additional gravy and/or flavor. Taste and add salt and cayenne pepper as desired. Serve hot, over rice and alongside sautéed greens.
- This version of feijoada is hardly traditional; I can see where a greater variety of meat, including a cured sausage like linquica or chorizo and some dried beef, would increase the appeal. But more meat? Gah. I cut the amount nearly in half and it still seemed to me all-meat-and-no-veg. But, hey: Brazillian food. I should not be surprised.
- Hank tells us that the Portuguese version of feijoada is made with white beans, which I think could be tasty.
- I did not include a ham hock, but I can see where the smokiness of hocks would be a nice addition here. If I make it again, I’ll be sure to include it.
Like all stews, this dish will improve over a few days. Store refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Year round, technically, but this meaty, hearty stew screams “winter!” to me.