Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brazilian Black Bean Stew aka Feijoada

And just when I had all of you thinking I only blog about dogs... I will call this the wifey subject matter of my blog.  You know...dogs, wife, business owner. Because my hubbie loves to eat and I love to cook.  I especially love cooking things that on paper he would hate and ends up loving.  This is one of those recipes.

I've always been one to experiment with cooking and when my good friend Julie, of Julie vs Vegetables fame, asked me for a good recipe using artichokes,  I got a burst of inspiration.  You see...the very bestest thing I cook in the world is risotto and risotto is where I learned to experiment.  Wanting to challenge Julie (which in turn would provide a hilarious JVV blog post), Choose Your Own Adventure Cooking was born (copyright pending, yo! don't be stealing my ideas).

Today's Choose Your Own recipe is Brazilian Black Bean Stew (aka Feijoada).  I used this recipe on Allrecipes.com as my basis and altered from there.

Prep Time:  Several hours - you can slow cook this recipe for 6-8 hours or simmer on the stove for just a few.  Your first choice.

Ingredients:

The Feijoada Regulars
1 T olive oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 red, green, yellow or orange pepper, chopped.  I would usually use a green pepper which I think is most authentic and tastiest in these kinds of stews, but alas, TJ Hates-with-a-capital-H green peppers so I went red.
1 bag dried black beans (soak overnight) OR 3 cans of black beans.  One of the things I have never mastered is making a good soup from dried beans.  I can soak 'em for 2 days and simmer for 8 hours and those suckers never. soften. up.  By all accounts, using dried beans gives the stew a fuller, more authentic flavor.  I still use canned.  Your choice.
2 Bay Leaves (some recipes say to crush them but I prefer to remove my bay leaves after cooking so I left 'em whole)
1/4 t coriander
Salt & Pepper to taste

The Choose Your Own Part

Likin' it Spicy

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (why do recipes always specify that jalapeno's should be seeded but not bell peppers?  I have no idea...google it...I got a recipe to write.) 
1 t chipotle or adobo powder. 

Requisite Meat

No Feijoada recipe is complete without the pork.  It can be done, veggie friends...it just won't be as good.  The meat shows up in the Choose Your Own section due to all the choices.  When all's said and done, you need 3-4 cups of meat.  Select at least two from the following:

Diced Pre-cooked Ham
Cooked Bacon, reserve bacon grease after cooking
Diced Sausage - more choices here, I debated a good andoiulle or chorizo but settled on mango & jalapeno chicken sausage. I avoid sodium nitrate as much as possible and there are a few good chicken sausage options at the grocery store sans nitrates.
Ham Hocks (either cooked with the dried black beans or pre-slow cooked to achieve a nice pulled action)

Optionals
These can be added regardless of your spicy additions or meat selection.

2 Mangoes, peeled and chopped (many variations call for only 1 mango but I always find that I don't get as much fruit out of 1 mango as I would like so I say 2)
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Sour Cream, for garnish


The Assembly


Heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, onions & peppers (including jalapeno if you chose to spice it up).  Saute for about 3 minutes or until onion is soft, stirring occasionally so as not to burn the garlic.

Dry Beans ~ add with the water they were soaking in and additional water if needed until water is several inches above beans.  Add ham hocks, if using.  Bring to boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for several hours, or until beans are mostly tender.  Remove ham hocks and pull meat off bone, if using.
Canned Beans ~ Drain, rinse and add to pot with water to cover.

Add bay leaves, coriander, salt, pepper and chipotle/adobo, if spicing it up.

As stew is a-stewing, saute meats.  If you are using bacon, saute in reserved bacon grease...mmmm...bacon.  If not, use 1 T olive oil.  Saute for 5 minutes or until well-browned.  Add meats to stew.

Simmer for a couple hours.  Add mango about five minutes before removing from heat to soften and infuse the stew with the sweet flavor.

Serve over rice (authentic) or corn/tortilla chips (what my hubbie prefers) and garnish as desired.

Bon Appetit!

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