I sometimes get asked what comes first when I post recipes for my blog – the food or the music. Most of the time it comes from a mutual love where I’m so fascinated by a culture that I’m in love with both the food and the music, but this is one where the music came first. I love Brazilian music, but knew next to nothing about the cuisine so I forced myself to do some research and find a dish that would complement the music.
Not long after, it was clear that I needed to try my hand at feijoada as it was the national dish of Brazil and one that everyone raved about. That and it sounded like one of the meatiest stews I’d ever heard of. I was heading down the south coast for a week of relaxation so I stopped off for a trip to Petersham (Sydney’s little Portugal) and collected some salted beef and various cuts of other meat to make this delicious stew. I’ve heard people just using beef jerky in place of the salted beef, but try to get the real thing if you can.
I plucked this recipe from SBS’ Food Safari – an excellent resource for international cuisines – and amended it slightly based on what I could get my hands on.
Ingredients (for 6-8 people with leftovers)
- 500g black beans (not canned)
- 200g salt dried beef
- 200g smoked pork ribs, halved through the bone
- 200g speck or smoked pork belly, cut into 2cm pieces
- 1 chorizo, halved and sliced
- 500g smoked pork hock
- 300g pork scotch fillet, cut into 5cm pieces
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- white rice
- kale (or silverbeet)
- orange segments
- 60g butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 120g of cassava flour
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped
You need to start this at least one day ahead by soaking the beans and salted beef in cold water in separate bowls. The beans will double in size so make sure you have a bowl big enough for this. Refrigerate the beans overnight. For the beef, just make sure you change the water about 4 times so it’s not just sitting in salty water. This will loosen up the beef and get it ready for cooking.
Rinse and drain the beans and beef. The beef should be soft enough to slice through into 2 cm pieces so slice them up and throw them into a large pot along with the beans. Add all the other meat, 2 bay leaves and top up with cold water so everything is covered. Bring to boil, making sure you skim any scum from the surface while you occasionally stir. Once at boil, reduce heat and simmer (covered) for 1 hour.
In a separate pan, heat up some oil on medium and add your onion, garlic, chilli and bay leaf mixture until the onions are soft and transparent. Remove about a cup of the beans from the pot with a slotted spoon and add them to the onion mix. Mash the beans roughly with the back of a wooden spoon and mix well with the onion mix before tossing it all into the feijoada pot.
Cover and cook for another hour, then remove pork hock, shred meat (when cool enough to handle) and return pork meat to the pot. Cook for another hour uncovered (add a little more water if it’s getting too thick), and then taste for seasoning.
In the last hour when you’re cooking the feijoada, this is when you can prep all the lovely sides to the stew. To make your Farofa, melt the butter in a pan and saute your onions until soft. I didn’t have any cassava flour on me so instead I made use of some breadcrumbs and toasted this in the buttery onion mix for a few minutes. Add your chilli and chopped corriander and put this mixture aside in a bowl.
For the kale, keep this nice a simple and blanche the finely shredded kale in boiling water for about a minute. Drain the kale, season with salt and pepper and dress with a drizzle of olive oil and put this aside in a separate bowl. With about half an hour to go for your stew, put on enough rice for your guests in your rice cooker or the stove.
When your stew is nice and gooey and the whole house smells of meat, you should be able to put everything together in bowls. Arrange the rice, stew and kale in everyone’s bowls, then sprinkle with the farofa mixture and top with orange segments and coriander leaves. Delicious. You’ll almost certainly have leftovers and like most stews, it’ll taste even better the next day.
Where do I start with Brazilian music? There’s so much out there and I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert, but instead I’m just going to share the artists and music that I love. A lot of the Brazilian music that I like stems from the Tropicalia period, which was a cultural movement in the late 60s which resulted in some of the most wild music recorded and inspired the likes of David Byrne, Kurt Cobain and Beck. It’s a great cross road of psychedelic rock, samba, funk and soul. Truly fascinating and worth buying this Soul Jazz compilation if you want to know more.
Instead of just posting one tune to sum up the dish, I’m going to try using Spotify so you’ll have an entire playlist to cook and eat to. I’ve selected a range of artists (not just from the Tropicalia period) from the 60s to the 80s with equal parts dreamy landscape, lazy funk and psychedelic fuzz. Enjoy!