How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Feijoada
This month’s Global Food of the Month is: Feijoada (pronounced fay-JWA-da). Feijoada is one of my favorite foods to make and eat. In part one of this two part series, I wrote about the basics of feijoada and where to find it in the Twin Cities. This week, I am posting part two, my first recipe and a little story about what and who inspired my love of feijoada.
In the summer of 2011, I spent 2 months in the remote Portuguese mountains doing research for my masters thesis in Anthropology. Of course, what started out as a random adventure, turned into a journey into the lives of Beatriz, Miguel and their two year old son.
I had gone to Portugal to study international volunteerism. Beatriz and Miguel, a young Portuguese couple had recently purchased an organic farm and were attempting to turn it into a functioning home and center for eco tourism.
Through the help of a British nonprofit organization, Beatriz and Miguel opened their home to international volunteers from all over Europe, Asia and United States. In return for their hospitality, Beatriz and Miguel asked that these volunteers help them fix-up their newly purchased farm.
While most volunteers only stayed for two weeks, I was there all summer, researching and interviewing people about their experiences in international volunteerism. While I engaged with the other volunteers, my relationship with Beatriz and Miguel impacted me the most.
There are a million things I would like to say about my time in the Portuguese mountains, but let me focus on food. Beatriz took up the almost impossible task of cooking two meals a day, lunch and dinner, for anywhere between 4 to 15 people, from May until the end of August.
This challenge would be difficult for anyone, let alone someone living on a farm with a kitchen the size of a closet, a two-range gas stove, no fridge, and very limited electricity. Despite these difficulties, Sofia produced quality dish after quality dish–I never went hungry and was constantly surprised about what came out of one of the tiniest kitchens in the world. But, in my opinion, by far and away the best dish Beatriz made was feijoada.
In fact, it was my first night on the farm, after 20+ hours of travel across the Atlantic, full of culture shock and overwhelmed by the realization that I would be living in a tent for the next two months, when I first tasted feijoada. I didn’t know it then, but it was surely this magical dish that reassured me that everything was going to be ok.
Before I left, Beatriz taught me her recipe for feijoada, and while I can never truly replicated her perfection, over the past 2 years I have developed my own unique way of cooking feijoada. While I have given you precise measurements in my recipe, I generally just eyeball everything. The great thing about feijoada is that it is extremely flexible, if you don’t like kidney beans, just use black beans. If you want to add some bacon or dried beef, feel free. If you feel like some vegetables, go for it. I am always changing up my recipe based on what happens to be in my fridge and cupboards. For me there are three key elements that are really required, some high quality chorizo/sausage (I brought the smoked sausage that Samba, Taste of Brazil carries in their grocery), making sure not to forget the white wine, and adding cabbage to the stew itself. Lastly, while I can’t speak to the authenticity of my recipe, I can say, I know it tastes good, which is all that matters in my opinion. So, without further adieu, my recipe for feijoada.
Serving Size: 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into half slices
1/2 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
2 dashes of Red Pepper Flakes
3/4 lb pork (use chops, shoulder or belly), cut into small chunks
6 ounces chorizo or smoked sausage, cut into slices
1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce
1 cup dry white wine, chardonnay or sauvignon blanc
1 (15 ounce) can of kidney beans
1 large (18-25 ounce) can of black beans
1 1/2 cups green cabbage
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
2. When olive oil is hot, add onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes.
3. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft and translucent, do not brown.
4. Add pork chops and sausage. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat or until pork chops have browned slightly.
5. Add tomato sauce, white wine, kidney and black beans. Increase to medium high heat and bring to a simmer.
6. Add cabbage, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
7. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before eating.
I would eat my feijoada straight from pot if I could, but you should probably but it in a bowl and chow down. While most recipes call for a side of white rice, I normally skip the carbohydrates and just go for the protein and fiber; you can choose what you like best. And once the feijoada is has cooled completely, just take a few more bites from the pot for good luck!