One of the reasons I love traveling so much is the opportunity to try all the authentic deliciousness with mysterious names. Feijoada, farofa, picanha, caipirinha, cachaça–these words already sound delicious, even though the last two are alcohol drinks, they go super well with the rest of the food. My personal favorite dish was feijoada, a stew made of beans and meat (primarily pork), served with rice and farofa (toasted manioc flour).
This dish represents the national culture of Brazil, and its origins go back to the XVI century when the first slaves were brought to Brazil from Africa. The culinary traditions of Africa, which involved using lots of beans in cooking, got mixed with the Portuguese culture of using pork meat and sausage. The indigenous tribes added their own feature to the dish—they topped it with manioc flour made of the rainforest’s toasted cassava root. The plate turned out to be rich and heavy, which allowed Brazilian workers to stay full and work all day without spending too much time on food breaks.
Nowadays, feijoada represents genuine Brazilian gastronomy. Many restaurants serve it as a main dish during the weekends, especially on Saturdays, so that large Brazilian families could show respect to the traditions and enjoy this savory culinary marvel.
Feijoada can also be cooked at home, and even though the process might take up to four hours, it’s definitely worth it.
2 cups (1 lb.) black beans
1 lb. pork, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes
½ lb. smoked pork sausages or chorizo
½ lb. hot Portuguese sausage such as linguica
½ lb. bacon
½ lb. smoked ribs (beef or pork)
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper
Vegetable or olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley, cilantro
Salt and grounded black pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight in large container. In the morning, stew beans for 4 hours at low heat. Place pork, chorizo, ribs and bacon in a deep pan covered with water and let it boil. Change water and let it boil again. Repeat the procedure at least three times to make the meat tender and remove unnecessary fat. In a large frying pan sauté onion and garlic using either vegetable or olive oil for two to three minutes. Toss in linguica and sauté for additional two-three minutes.
Mash 5-l0 tablespoons of beans and add to large pot to thicken the sauce. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, mashed or chopped garlic cloves, along with a tablespoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of red pepper. Stir and heat over medium fire for two-three minutes. Then combine the contents of frying pan and pot together and let it simmer for l0-l5 minutes. After that add the contents to the beans and let it boil at medium heat for about 2 hours. Serve with rice and farofa. Enjoy!
Brigadeiro is a rich Brazilian dessert made of chocolate and condensed milk. Perhaps it’s not the best idea to eat brigadeiros right after the feijoada fest (not to kill your stomach), but separately they go pretty well.
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon butter
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons nuts (optional)
Combine cocoa, butter and condensed milk, and place it in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, slowly stirring, until thickened for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest until cool enough to handle. Form into small balls and chill until serving. Yum!
2 ounces of cachaça
Sugar to taste
Cut the lime into pieces and place them in a glass. Add sugar and mash it with a pestle just enough to release the juice, otherwise it’ll become bitter. Add cachaça and stir to mix. Add crushed ice and stir again. You’ll be amazed how delicious it tastes! So don’t make too much, as the drink is pretty strong:)
If you don’t like or can’t find cachaça, substitute it with vodka (caipiroska) or white rum (caipirissima)