Sunday, August 14, 2016

An Olympic Meal: Brazilian Pork and Black Bean Stew (Feijoada)

As I've shared in previous posts, I love the Olympics, and I enjoy creating meals around events. During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, I shared our recipe for borscht, a Russian beet soup. For these Rio games, I did a little work to find a Brazilian recipe that we would enjoy. I settled on a pork and black bean stew. While this recipe is a little similar to the Cuban Black Beans & Rice recipe, I shared earlier this year, it also has its own distinct flair. The name of this stew is Feijoada and has been described as the national dish of Brazil. It can be made with either pork or beef. In Rio de Janeiro, it is most commonly prepared with black beans, other regions of brazil may use red beans. Feijoada also can include vegetables such as kale - we used collards, and it is often served over rice.

Before moving on to the recipe, here are a few fun facts about Brazil:

  • Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world in both area and population
  • Brazil's official language is Portuguese. Portuguese explorers first arrived in Brazil in 1500.
  • Brazil is divided into 5 regions. The north region includes the Amazon rain forest.
  • Brazil's plant and animal species are highly diverse. Over 1,200 species have been identified in the Amazon rain forest alone.

  • Rio de Janiero, the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics, is the second largest city in Brazil. The Christ the Redeemer statue is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. 

Here is our recipe for Brazilian pork and black bean stew. We've enjoyed it, and we hope you will, too. 

1 pound of black beans
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Large sweet onion, chopped - set aside about 1/4-1/3 of the onion to use later
1-2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 or 3 bayleaves, crushed
2 ham hocks - these really are going to provide flavor as much as anything so it's okay if they don't have a lot of meat on them
1 pound sausage - we used andouille, but you could use another smoked sausage such as linguica if you like
1/2 pound bacon
2 bunches of collards
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Soak the black beans overnight in cold water. The next day, drain and rinse them, cover with water, and cook until tender. As the beans are cooking, you can continue with some of the other steps. Note: do not drain the beans after they have cooked. 
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté about 2/3 of the chopped onion along with the garlic. Stir in the crushed bay leaves and sauté a few minutes longer. 
3. Cover the ham hocks with water and add the remaining onion. Simmer until the meat is starting to fall off the bones. Remove the ham hocks from the liquid and allow them to cool until they can be easily handled. Pour the broth from the ham hocks into the beans.
4. Now to prepare the meat. Pull the meat from the ham hocks and discard the bone and fat.  Slice up the sausage and bacon and place all of the meat on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees until the meat starts to become slightly crispy. Drain off any fat and stir the meat into the bean mixture.
5. While the meat is cooking, you can prepare the collards. I rinse them off well and then separate each leaf half from the stalk. I then stack up the half-leaves (will create several stacks) and roll them up tight like a cigar. Next, I make 1/2 to 1-inch cuts through the collard cigar. In a separate pot, heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the collards to the oil and slowly sauté them. You can add the collards to the oil in stages, allowing some to cook down a bit before adding more. The collards will cook down quite a bit (well, a lot) as you sauté them. You can also add a bit of water if you wish to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. I also covered the pot as the collards were cooking. After they are nice and tender, stir into the beans. You will now have a pot of stew that looks something like this.
6. Ladle your stew over some steamed rice and enjoy your Olympic dinner!