Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Feijoada (Brazilian Style Black Beans with Orange)

This is another recipe that I used to worry someone who really knew how to make it would get mad at me for my non-traditional interpretation. Then I looked around on the internets and discovered that there is already a huge debate about what should be considered "traditional" Feijoada (it is considered by some to be the national dish of Brazil). I'd never even heard of it until one day I saw it upcoming on the menu at the Still Life and I was supposed to make it as a soup. This was before I could just Google it and find 50 different versions. I found it in one international cook book, one take on it as a side dish, and I invented a soup out of that (because almost anything can be reinterpreted as a soup). Now I'm back to serving it as side dish. The orange makes me think a little of the Caribbean. We eat it along side spiced, grilled meats, just as is with rice and tortillas, or as a soup with double the stock listed below.

Feijoada (Brazilian Style Black Beans with Orange)
serves 4, as a main dish with rice and tortillas

3 cups dried black beans, or 3 to 4 cans of beans
3 slices bacon, cut into small pieces (optional)
2 garlic cloves
4 cups stock
1 orange
2 limes
2 bay leaves
cayenne to taste
8 cloves
4 cardamon pods
1 cup chopped cilantro
3 cups kale, chopped (optional)
  • In the morning (or the night before if you're organized), rinse the beans and cover with cold water. In the evening, discard the soaking water
  • Cut the peel from the orange (save the peels), then slice out the pulp. See the directions below.
  • Saute the bacon in a stock pot until it just starts to brown. Add the garlic and saute until it starts to brown.
  • Add the beans along with the cayenne, orange peels, lime juice, bay leaves, and stock.
  • Tie the cloves and cardamon into a cheese cloth bundle, smack a few times with a heavy pot, and add to the pot.
  • Simmer for 2 hours (1 hour if using canned beans), adding water if needed. You'll need to stir more often near the end to keep it from sticking to the pot.
  • If you want to add the chopped kale (it makes for a heartier main dish), add it about 30 minutes from the end.
  • When the beans are tender, remove the cheese cloth bundle, stir in the orange juice and pulp, cilantro, and salt. Done.
To cut out the orange supremes:
  • Cut the very top and bottom off of the orange - just enough to see the pulp.
  • Start cutting from the top, "skinning" the orange until the pulp is showing. Don't worry about going entirely from top to bottom, you can just flip the orange and cut away any peel that you missed.
  • Holding the skinned orange in your hand over a bowl, slowly cut down both sides of the pith so that the supremes fall into the bowl with the juice. It's a little creepy to cut towards your hand, but if you go slow and don't apply too much pressure, you'll be fine.
(The photos function on Blogger is not working - again! - so I'll add photos of how to do this later. In the mean time, there are a bunch of decent video demonstrations online.) It's really not necessary to do a careful job for this dish because you're going to stir the pulp into the beans and break it all up anyway.

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