Sunday, October 14, 2012

October Daring Cooks' Challenge - Brazilian Feijoada

Rachel Dana was our October 2012 Daring Cooks' Challenge hostess! Rachel brought Brazil into our lives by challenging us to make Feijoada and Farofa along with some other yummy side dishes traditionally served with Feijoada, which is a delicious black bean and pork stew.

I am not at all familiar with Brazilian food, and the amount of information contained within this challenge, not to mention the number of components... well... it was overwhelming.

It took many re-readings of the recipes and a bunch of discussions with Jenni and my sister... but I finally managed to wrap my head around all of the recipes, and I formulated a plan.

Feijoada is a Brazilian black bean stew, traditionally made with a variety of pork products.  Rachel challenged us to not only make the stew, but to make an entire meal of it, including collard greens and another traditional Brazilian dish called Farofa, a dish that reminds me a lot of breakfast, but that Rachel likes to include in her Feijoada feasts.

All in all, there were seven recipes included in his challenge. See? overwhelming. Until you break it down and realize... hey... this is actually not too bad!

I started with the two recipes that were easiest to make ahead of time. The first was an onion/garlic base (which is just a puree of onions and garlic - simply puree and stick it in the fridge until you need it!), which is used to flavor most of the dishes of this meal. The second is what is called a vinagrete - which is basically a "salsa" of sorts - a mixture of chopped pepper, onion and tomato, dressed with vinegar, olive oil and spices. Again, I simply mixed this up the day before and popped it in the fridge.

The next component was the feijoada itself. As it's a bean stew, it all begins with beans. I chose to make my stew in the crock pot. So the night before, I set the dried beans right in the crock pot, covered them with water and let them soak overnight.

The next morning, I added a bit of fresh water, set the crock pot to low and let it start cooking. I also threw in a couple of smoked turkey legs once it started cooking to begin flavoring the beans.

After a few hours, it was time to add the rest of the stew's ingredients - bacon and smoked sausage, both of which were cooked in a pan prior to being added, and also a few tablespoons of the onion-garlic base.

Another few hours later, I simply removed the turkey legs, shredded the meat and added it back into the stew, discarding the bones and skin.

While the crock pot finished its job with the feijoada, I got to work on the other components of the meal - the vegetable and the farofa.

I was worried about how I would get everything done simultaneously, but, when it came down to it, it actually works out really well. I go all of the prep work done and had everything ready to go. For the farofa, I chopped onion and measured out my bread crumbs.  And for the vegetable, I prepared the collard greens as the recipe indicated, slicing them into ribbons to be cooked just prior to the meal.

The farofa cooks up pretty quickly. I actually set aside the pan that I'd used earlier to cook the bacon and sausages and used that to add extra flavor to my farofa. To that pan, I added butter and diced onions. Once the onions cook, simple crack eggs over them, let them cook briefly, add some bacon crumbles, bread crumbs and, as Rachel recommended, slices of banana. I promise, it's a lot easier and quicker than it seems.

Then the collards are quickly cooked (in more of the onion-garlic base) and the meal is ready to go! Served with rice (which I just had cooking on a back burner during the end of this process) and we had a full feast all ready to go.

I also made the hot sauce that is included in the recipes, but daddy was the only one brave enough to try it. Regardless, there was so much flavor on this plate, and so much deliciousness packed into this mea.

I can't believe I almost skipped this. We all loved it and I know I will be making each of these recipes again.  Rachel, thank you so much for introducing me to delicious Brazilian fare, and for sharing these delicious recipes with us!

To see the other delicious Brazilian feasts prepared in the Daring Kitchen this month, check them out here.

I am including here all of the recipes that were included in the challenge. Jenni graciously share her own transcription of them with me, and I have adapted them for the modifications that I made when I made them.  I have them listed here in the order in which I made them, to give an idea as to how I organized the execution of this feast. Even though it looks like a lot, I promise, it comes together pretty simply and is totally worth all the steps!

To see the recipes exactly as Rachel presented them, check them out here.

1 large bell pepper, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2-4 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Chop all the vegetables and parsley.
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine.
Press down on the veggies to release some liquid, and ensure everything is immersed.
Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. (I made this the day before and let it rest in the fridge until the meal.)

Onion-Garlic Base
2 medium white onions
4 large cloves of garlic
1 TBSP salt

Roughly chop the onions and garlic.
Place everything in a food processor and blend until smooth.
(I made this the day before and put it in the fridge until I needed it.)

2 cups dried black beans
18 ounces bacon (12 for this, 6 for later for the forofa, but might as well prep it all now) (I used only one pound, 16 ounces, of bacon total. Close enough...)
2 pounds mixed meats (typically an array of pork - sausages, ribs, ham, etc) cut into 1" cubes or 1/2" slices (I used two smoked turkey legs and 14 oz of turkey smoked sausage)
4 bay leaves
3 TBSP onion-garlic base (recipe above)
1/4 cup bacon grease or vegetable oil

Wash the beans thoroughly and place into your crock pot. Soak beans overnight. In the morning, add additional water to cover the beans by an inch and set crock pot to low.

Place the oil/grease in a large frying pan.
Fry all the meat in the hot grease until well browned and cooked through (cook each type of meat separately, but you can use the same pan/grease).
Drain the meat on paper towels to remove excess grease.

Once the beans begin to soften, add 3 tablespoons of the onion-garlic base, 4 bay leaves, and the cooked meats (remember to reserve half of the bacon for later).
Adjust the water to make sure everything is covered.
Continue cooking until the beans are done (about 8-10 hours total).

(I prepared my rice, brown basmati, using the traditional method. Following is the Brazilian method that Rachel shared with us for the challenge)
1.5 cups long grain white rice
4.5 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons onion-garlic base
boiling water

Wash your rice in a sieve and let it dry.
Heat the oil in a pan.
Cook the onion-garlic paste for 1 minute, until it starts to soften.
Add the dried rice and stir fry for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the pot and burn.
Add enough boiling water so the water comes 2 fingers over the rice.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn off the heat.
Fluff with a fork, cover, and let rest for another 10 minutes.

Hot Sauce
1 spoonful of your favorite hot sauce
a few spoonfuls of the liquid from the completed feijoada
1 spoonful of the vinagrete

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix to incorporate.

1/4 cup butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 ounces fresh bacon, fried (set aside previously from the feijoada)
1/2 cup fine ground cornmeal or dry breadcrumbs
1 banana, sliced into 1/2" - 1" slices

Melt half of the butter over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, until they start to soften.
Crack the eggs into the pan and lightly break the yolks and spread around (don't break it up too much).
When the egg is almost fully cooked, break them up into med-large pieces.
The onions will brown quite a bit under the eggs, but its ok!
Add the cooked bacon and stir.
Add the rest of the butter and stir to melt.
Lower the heat to medium, toss in the cornmeal or breadcrumbs and banana and stir well.
Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add a pinch of salt and pepper (to taste) and keep stirring, until the cornmeal has clumped together nicely and become golden, about 3-5 minutes.
Be careful not to let it burn! Keep tasting it until it tastes toasty.

Collard Greens
4 collard greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon onion-garlic base

Wash the greens, cut out the stem, and cut in half.
Stack all of the leaves on top of each other and roll them up tightly into a log.
Holding the tube tightly, slice off thin slices of the greens.
When you are almost ready to eat, heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
Add the 1 tablespoon of the onion-garlic base and let it soften for a minute.
Add all the collards at once, and stir to coat with oil.
You can add a pinch of salt and pepper if you want.
Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, so they just start to soften.
Remove and serve.



  1. Shelley, as a Brazilian I must say you have done an amazing job! I'm drooling looking at your feijoada. I never thought of using smoked turkey but loved your idea. Actually, anything smoked will flavor the beans similarly to feijoada. Your farofa with bananas looks delicious! I LOVE farofa, not only with feijoada, I often make it as a side for other dishes. What a great job you have done!

  2. Awesome job, Shelley!! I love that you utilized your crock pot! And using smoked turkey - YUM! That was smart thinking! The bananas in the farofa also sound great, wish I could have tasted that! :) I think what I am trying to say is that you rocked this challenge - everything looks amazing!

  3. I'm so sad I didn't get a chance to make the challenge this month. Your plateful looks like such a treat - colourful, delicious and satisfying to eat. I can imagine feeling very, very contented after a meal like that, and I agree with Renata and Jenni: smoked turkey was a great addition. The smoky flavours must have complemented the dish beautifully.

  4. I love your idea of using the smoked turkey leg, then adding the shredded meat back to the stew! Your finished plate looks so colorful and delicious!

  5. You're a genius at converting this involved meal into something manageable. It was a great idea to get the onion-garlic and vinagrete together a day in advance. I love the use of the smoked turkey - it would be perfect for the meal!

  6. Well done on the challenge. Everything looks great.

  7. Wow - it looks great. I am sorry I missed this one :-(

  8. Shelley, your feijoada looks delicious...I will definitely buy a crockpot after reading your post. Great job!

  9. Your feast looks so delicious - great pics. Well done on this Brazilian challenge!

  10. I loved how this turned out, and I think had I thought about the smoked turkey legs (great addition) I might have thrown those in too. Nicely done!


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