Jerry Springer: the Opera was playing. I had insisted on eating there before the show started and was so glad I did because it was to be my last feijoada for a while.
Feijoada is a black bean stew that is typically served with side dishes such as rice, fried collard greens and presented with orange slices which is used to counteract the fat of all the pork thrown in the feijoada. The bowl is then topped off with a soft cheese which they like to call Romeu e Julieta.
Marina & Malena's feijoada was very chunky, replete with beef, salted pork trimmings, bacon, sausages and other parts of the pig I couldn't recognize. It was not soupy but there was just enough of the soup to cover the everything and then some. This was no wimpy little thing, it was thick, and heavy and strong. It was incredible and it knocked my socks off! It went beyond the gastronomic frontiers of anything I had ever experienced before.
Sadly both remain elusive to me. The one and only "Brazilian" restaurant in the country does not even have it on the menu, ? Well, I f I wanted to have some again, I had to make it. I resisted for a long time, worried I would ruin one of my top 5 things to eat before you die, but I couldn't wait any longer. I had half a dozen recipes but they usually just varied in the types of meats thrown in, and their quantities. For my first attempt, I did not want to overdo it so I chose the recipe with the most variety of meats (feijoada completa), and cut down from there. Keeping to what I had on hand and what I could easily find at the deli that day.
adapted from this recipe
220 g smoked bacon
300 g pork shoulder
230 g lean beef chunk or rump
4 pcs chorizo bilbao ( I used my Uncle's homemade chorizo from Dumaguete)
2 cups black turtle beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs parsley
1 sprig thyme
6 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
In a large heavy stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add the garlic and cook a little more, until the aroma is released. Add the bay leaves, parsely and thyme along with the all the meats and the water. Bring slowly to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and skim the fats and scum from the top.
Cook for about 30 minutes then add the beans. Simmer for another hour. As each piece of meat becomes fork tender, remove it, starting wiht the beef and finishing with the salted meats. Place the cooked meats on a platter , cover with aluminum foil and keep warm in a low oven.
Continue cooking the beans for 20 minutes more, or until tender. You can either serve the meats and beans side by side on a platter, or mixed back in all together in a big bowl. I prefer the latter. The feijoada was very very good and I was very proud of my first attempt. It was chunky and thick and heavy, just how I wanted it. Hearty, comfort food, sould food. The best kind. But there was still some room for improvement as I felt there was something lacking but couldn't quite put my finger on it. The flavor wasn't as strong as how I remember the others to have been.
The pão de queijo, though perfect in flavor, did not come out as soft as I hoped. It did not melt in my mouth like Malena's and Marina's did. Even after the recommened time in the oven, the insides did not bake well through so I had to keep it on a little longer. This is the recipe I used and most of the recipes I've seen and bookmarked are identical, but I obviously did something wrong. I used cassava starch which is our equivalent of manioc starch that all the recipes called for. I could try using tapioca starch next time, but isn't that just the same?
If any of you reading this, have any experience in making either of these dishes, I would love to hear from you and would appreciate your comments and suggestions. Thanks in advance! :)