Brazil’s national cuisine:
By R K Rishikesh Sinha
Brazilian cuisines are unique not only in taste but also in their origin. Brazil, as a nation, is a culmination of natives from different ethnic origin. Likewise, the Brazilian dishes are characterized by regional differences in the way of cooking yet have a similarity in their taste and ingredients.
Whole feijoada, the national dish of Brazil is a recipe of bean stew with pork meat and beef served with rice. The garnishing style of feijoada is different in different parts of the country. Usually it is served with rice, fried collard greens, and farofa made by cassava flour.
Feijoada came into existence in the sixteenth century in Brazil. The history of feijoada’s origin is connected with the introduction of slavery in Brazil. The African slaves brought with them the bean stew, the Portuguese the linguica (sausage), and the Indians supplemented it with farofa.
Since then, the feijoada has come a long way to becoming the national food of Brazil, and the first choice of Brazilians in their day of celebrations such as Christmas, birthday and easter eating. Today, it has crossed the boundaries of Brazil and has become the inseparable part of menu in many restaurants and hotels all across the world.
2 cups (1 pound) black beans, rinsed and picked over
3/4 pound pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of fat
6 ounces slab bacon
1/2 pound smoked pork sausages
1/2 pound hot Portuguese sausage such as linguica
1 or 2 pounds ham hock or shank, cut into 1-inch rounds
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 to 4 ounces dried beef carne seca, minced (optional)
For the Seasonings:
3 garlic cloves, minced and sauteed in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 green onions, including tops, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
Large handful of chopped fresh parsley (about 1/2 cup)
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano, crushed
Salt and ground black pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
How to prepare feijoada: p>
A day ahead of the making of the dish, soak the black beans in a container and keep it in refrigerator overnight. Also, soak the salt cured beef in another container in water overnight but remember to change the water two-three times.
Next morning, before start cooking, drain the beans and cut the salt cured beef into large pieces. Now, boil the beans in a large pot at low heat, add water to cover the beans by 3 inches. Let it simmer for at least 2 hours until the beans are tender.
Now, chop pork meat and the Canadian bacon into ½-inch cubes. Put chopped pork, bacon, and whole sausages in a baking pan and roast it well. At the same time, cook the ham hock in a saucepan with onion. Add water to cover it. Let it boil and simmer it for 1 hour until tender. Change the water and boil it again. Repeat the method at least three times to tenderize cured meats and remove excess fat. If desired, remove the ham hock rounds from the water and meat from the bones.
When the black beans fully cooked, check for the additional liquid if needed to make it soupy. Cut whole sausages in round shapes. Add the beef carne seca, sausages and cooked meats to the pot. Add seasoning ingredients, salt, and pepper to the pot. Leave it to simmer for another 1-2 hours.
Serve delicious feijoada in large bowls with rice and red-hot sauce. Garnished with orange segments.