Fejão and Feijoada (Brazilian black bean stew)

Feijoada – or black bean and pork stew – is Brazil’s national dish. In many regions of Brazil, adults, children and babies eat the simpler vegetarian version of this dish, feijão, with rice on a daily basis. Black beans (or turtle beans) were also the staple food of Afro-Brazilian slaves. With the addition of pork to the stew, the feijão become feijoada, which is often served to guests on special occasions.

My daughter is a very picky eater but she loves black bean stew with rice, andfeijão are one of my weekly staples. Black beans are a superfood packed with protein, antioxidants, vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium and fiber. On weekends, I often make a pot of vegetarian feijão or I add a bit of bacon and/or sausage for a “feijoada”, and freeze portions for the busy work week.

I go light on the pork in this version, but a small amount of bacon or sausage goes a long way by boosting depth of flavour and adding a subtle smokiness. Or leave out the bacon or sausage entirely for a more cleansing vegetarian feijão and use some vegetable broth to enhance flavour.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1-2 diced medium onions
  • 3-4 minced garlic cloves
  • 3-4 cups of pre-soaked dry black beans (soak overnight in fridge)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Water and/or vegetable/chicken broth (enough to generously cover the beans in the pot)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A quarter to half a package of bacon or 2-3 sausages (optional)

If you are using meat (completely optional), fry bacon or sausage until cooked. Set aside.

Fry onions and garlic in vegetable oil (or bacon fat) for a few minutes. Throw in all other ingredients. Cover and add water as needed. Bring to a boil and simmer on low-medium for 1-2.5 hours or until black beans are tender and a thick gravy has formed. When beans are cooked, simmer without the lid for 30 minutes to thicken the gravy.

Serve with rice, a few orange slices, and sautéed kale/chard with minced garlic or a salad. I sometimes even add a fried egg on top and sprinkle Tabasco sauce to finish.

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