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My souperinspiration: Beef feijoada
Rio and feijoada
All of the countries represented in the Rio 2016 Olympics have a national dish that they consider their own; yorkshire pudding in the U.K., kimchi in South Korea, wiener schnitzel in Austria, tom yum in Thailand and many more. In Brazil, the dish to have is feijoada (fay-zwah-da). If there is one dish that is eaten the length and breadth of Brazil is feijoada especially in Rio de Janeiro.The word feijoada comes from the word feijão, which is Portuguese for beans. Feijoada is a black bean stew that is brewed with a variety of salted and smoked pork and beef products from carne-seca to smoked pork spareribs. The more traditional feijoada also includes “cheaper” cuts such as pig’s ears, feet and tails, and beef tongue. The rich, smoky stew is then served with rice, sautéed collard greens or kale, orange slices and topped with toasted cassava flour (farofa). The meal is just as warm, comforting, rich and vibrant as the music, people and culture of Brazil.
It first became famous in the kitchens of Rio de Janeiro, but it is now well loved throughout Brazil. It is on the menu at every food establishment from casual buffets to the top restaurants. The dish is so integrated into Brazilian culture that Saturday is known as the day of feijoada. It is not just a meal but also an event to share with family and friends. But, where does this national symbol come from? Feijoada’s origin has recently come under questioning. The long-believed tale is that it was created by slaves on sugar cane plantations who took the scraps of meat not eaten by their masters (pigs ears, feet and tails) and cooked them with black beans, which were native to Brazil and the foundation of the slaves’ diets. However, recent Brazilian scholars disagree with the basis of this story. Feijoada has more of a resemblance to the European stews, most specifically the pork and bean cozido from Portugal, than the native and African bean dishes. It turns out cassoulet and feijoada are cousins with the feijoada being Braizilianized with the use of black beans due to the non-availability of white beans. The slaves may have been the ones who first started making feijoada, but most likely they were making it for their masters’ palates.
Associated with relaxing in the company of friends and family, it is typically served on Sundays, alongside caipirinhas and cold beer. There are new various theories as to the origin of feijoada. Some believe it was created by African-Brazilians during colonial times using leftovers from animal parts; others believe it was inspired by European meat and bean stews; and still others say that feijoada first became popular in the favelas (shanty towns) of Rio. Today, the origin of feijoada means little to most modern cariocas, but has become a habit on some Saturdays and a desperate craving on others. Saturdays in Rio were made for feijoada. Casa de Feijoada serves a mighty good version served in claypots which lend an earthy taste to the food. Feijoada is a blank canvas for meat choices, it can be new variation depending on what meat is available at the markets.
Casa de Feijoada
Casa de Feijoada in Ipanema is well known for the best feijoada in town. A labour of love, feijoada done the old fashioned way takes up to 24 hours to make, between soaking beans and desalting pork. Which is why most Brazilians go out to restaurants and bars to eat it – and only ever on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We were at the restaurant on Saturday and it was packed. Feijoada is a hearty thick stew of black beans, sausages, jerked beef and cuts of pork of varying quality – traditionally veering towards the lower end, with trotters, and ears all going into the mix. It is served in a black earthen clay pot. Rice, collard greens, thick orange slices, fried cassava or they say ipim here, farofa (toasted manioc flour) and pork scratchings are served on the side, with a tipple of cachaça cocktail made with passionfruit or lime to ease digestion.
Here, it is served buffet style, paid per person and they will top up whatever we want . No wonder it is a whole afternoon family affair. This is true comfort food! This trip, I am very privileged to have tried the real deal with my local host Flavia @flavinhadaher enthusiastically explaining to me about this dish, her roots and why it is so typical for Cariocas. It is so popular and as it takes a long time to prepare, they have ready meal options of this sold at supermarkets all over the country.
I fell in love with feijoada at first bite. As most of you know, I’m not a huge meat eater and an almost a vegetarian. But, I smack my lips when it comes to feijoada. As our travelling partner told me: “Every mouthful is different and the dark, glossy sauce is enriched by every dried, salted, fresh, or smoked cut you throw in … from the new cuts – smoked pork sausages, loin chops and belly, jerked and salted beef, salt pork – to the old cuts … ears, tails, trotters.” As for me, all that slowly simmered pork makes for a tasty pot of creamy black beans and, to my surmise, is the reason feijoada continues to be a Brazilian favorite.
If you are Brazilian or have been to Brazil and eaten authentic feijoada, let me apologize right now. Traditionally, feijoada is a stew of black beans with a variety of cuts of fresh, salted and cured meats. Our version is a bold attempt to adjust the recipe slightly to only make it beef only, made with beef cubes, beef tripe, sausages and beef tendons. What might look like a plate of inky purples and black is a symphony of velvety meat, creamy beans and lots of texture from quinoa and red rice. Cooking the tendons till soft breaks down the collagen and gives the soup a sticky lip feeling that is so satisfying. In essence, feijoada is Brazilian soul food; food of the people.
Ingredients: marinated NZ beef cubes, NZ beef tripe, NZ beef tendons, beef and chicken sausages, black beans, onions, garlic, oranges, carrots, red chillies, spices, red rice and quinoa.
Condiments: tapioca sticks, chopped tomatoes, chopped coriander and chopped orange pieces.
Read more on SouperChef Anna’s travel to Brazil on our e-magazine. Download Here.