Brazilian Black Beans and Rice (Feijoada)

Feijoada

If you want some black beans and rice that will kick any beans and rice recipe’s ass in futbol, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve enjoyed gallo pinto in Costa Rica (wonderful!), pintos and rice in Texas, and the southern Louisiana standard, red beans and rice. Feijoada beats all of them by a score of at least 3 goals to 1.

A good Brazilian friend hooked me up with this recipe, and for inspiration, I started with the recipe from the Eating Dangerously cookbook.

Total prep time: overnight (bean soak) + a little over 2 hours.

Here’s what I did:

  • 1 pound dry black beans
  • 1 1/2 pounds smoked sausage
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile paste (if you’ve got it)
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1  jalapeño, serrano, or habanero pepper
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • aged cotija cheese or equivalent (optional)
  • rice (kind of important)

I started with 1 pound of dry black beans. Cover these guys up with at least an inch of water and soak overnight. After a couple of hours, you’ll need to check the water to ensure they’re still covered. First thing in the morning, I started up my smoker with pecan chunks and got the sausage and bacon smoking. Yes, I smoked the bacon – it is incredible. To smoke bacon, separate the strips so each gets imbued with wonderful pecan smoke. Once you’ve got the meat situation under control, return to the kitchen, pour the water off the beans, rinse them, and put them in a large saucepan. Add the beef stock, then enough water to cover the beans by about 1/4 inch. Add cumin and chile powder, bring to a simmer, then cook on low heat. Overall, I like to cook black beans about two hours. The meat will take about 1 hour to an hour and a half (I smoke at about 250 degrees F).

While all this cooking is going on, it’s time to do some chopping and sauteing. Dice up that onion and pepper, and chop the garlic finely. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the aforementioned chopped ingredients to said skillet. Saute for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the bay leaves and chile paste if you’ve got it (I do have a recipe on this blog), and dip a slotted spoon into the beans and pull out about a cup of them. Mash the beans into the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture and continue to saute. Be careful you don’t burn the beans in the skillet – that can ruin the whole dish. Get this mixture bubbly hot, and add it to the pot o’ beans. Add salsa. Cover and simmer on low heat. This is about the time you need to think about starting your rice. I hate when I’m nearing completion of a recipe and then I remember the rice. D’oof! I cook brown rice, which takes 45 minutes. Call me a health nut – I want complex carbs with that sausage and bacon.

Now it’s time to check on the smoking activities. Note that i start with “smoked sausage,” from my local grocer but it’s so much better to smoke it again at home. I’m fortunate enough to live in Texas, which has the best sausage in the world – we’ve got a lot of Czech, Polish, and German influence throughout Central Texas, so there are some great brands from Elgin, Chappell Hill, and even El Campo. But I digress.

I like to smoke sausage until it starts to shrivel just a little bit. I also do not like to break the skin of the casing – too much fat can drain out and it gets too dry. When smoked long enough, most of the fat is gone, but there’s just enough there for the links to be juicy and tasty. OK, who am I trying to kid – this dish has high fat content – deal with it. If you take the time to nibble a piece of smoked bacon right out of the smoker, you’ll thank me later.

Once the meat is finished (60 to 90 minutes), remove and cut into small bite sized pieces. If you get nervous about fat content, dab it all with a paper towel before sliding it into the pot of simmering beans. Doing so will remove at least .2 to .4% of the fat before it hits your palate. Raise the heat on the beans to a more aggressive simmer and cook for at least 15 more minutes – or up to half an hour longer. Serve as pictured, with a crumbled aged cheese. I topped with sliced avocado.

Bom apetite!

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