Feijoada bean casserole stew from Brazil, rich in smokey ribs and flavor-enhanced with pancetta, is a traditional slow-cooked dish that has gained international acclaim.
Beef or pork ribs, chorizo sausage, a base of black beans – just lifting the lid of the Le Creuset releases a multi-hued mix of aromas that bring back memories of bright days and colorful times in Sao Paolo.
I look on feijoada as the Brazilian equivalent of Spain’s paella:
- The dish is a national gastronomic icon.
- Each area has its own variations.
- Each town is persuaded that it alone has the true secret of perfection.
Feijoada Bean Casserole Stew – Smokey Meats and Rich Gravy
Abuelo is my best critic here. 7 years in Brazil gave him more than just a perfect command of Portuguese as another in his language range. It also gave him an appreciation of the flavorsome foods and tasty combinations that abound there.
So long as I prepare this just as I have it written here, he is happy that this is as close to a smokey feijoada as a bean stew not made in Brazil can be.
What Beans Do I Use for Feijoada?
The traditional beans for feijoada are the small black beans – frijoles negros or alubias negras.
I have used:
º Black beans alone.
º Black beans in combination with the larger white beans, alubias blancas, which I think America calls navy beans.
º A mixture of black and pinto beans.
º Pinto beans alone. (Pinto beans are widely used in the States and in Mexico.)
The Abuelo rating is that there must be a good proportion of black beans to produce the fine edge of taste he expects.
Feijoada – Note about soaking the beans
º I use dried beans and quick soak them. I guess you could use tinned beans, but I have never done so.
º With the black beans, don’t be bothered by the black color in the water that drains off. It is natural.
More about soaking and cooking beans
Serve the feijoada with rice or potatoes.
Ample for a church bring and share meal.
For most of the time the feijoada looks after itself. Prep time does not include bean soaking time.
- 750g black beans, or a mix with pinto or alubia beans.
- -I use dried beans and soak them. I guess you could use tinned beans, but I have never done so.
- 1,5kg beef or pork short ribs
- 500g pancetta
- 500g chorizo
- 120ml olive oil
- - this is a guideline: we are extravagant with olive oil, use whatever you are happy with.
- 2 large/3 medium chopped onions
- 2 heads of garlic, cloves peeled and halved horizontally
- - we are equally extravagant with garlic. This quantity is no problem, providing it is fresh.
- ½t salt
- - I keep salt low: it can always be adjusted later in the cooking
- ½t nutmeg
- 1T sweet pimenton
- 500ml/2c red wine
- - if you prefer, use water
- 2l /8c water
- Preparation - Beans
- Measure the beans in cups - it's about 3½c
- Add 4c water for every cup of beans.
- Soak the beans overnight.
- Drain the soaking water, and rinse the beans if you so wish
- or use the dried beans quick soak method.
- Meats and Flavors
- Brown the meat and set it aside.
- Brown the pancetta and chorizo. Keep them separate.
- In the same pan, sweat the onion on a low to medium heat for about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, nutmeg, pimenton and salt.
- Sweat for a further 2 minutes or so, without colouring.
- Add the ribs to the pan.
- Wine and Water
- Heat the red wine
- - heating the liquid avoids thermal shock to the enamelled interior of the Le Creuset.
- Add the wine to the meat in the pan.
- Keep the heat at medium, and bubble until most of the wine has evaporated.
- While that is bubbling, heat the water.
- Add the soaked, drained beans to the pan.
- Add enough of the heated water to cover.
- Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 2 hours with the lid on.
- Pancetta and Chorizo
- Add the chorizo and the pancetta, and simmer for a further 1½-2 hours until the meat is falling off the ribs, and the gravy is thick and aromatic.
- Add water if necessary to keep the beans covered.
Thanks to Tikko Maciel for a beautifully atmospheric photo in Brazil.