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Feijoada – Brazil National Dish – Day 40/Dish 22

February 15, 2010

Bosnia was a smashing success.  Despite the bloody history, I feel like we discovered treasure!  In fact I really love the beauty of the Baltic.  I am looking forward to coming back for more exploration very soon.  But now it is time to make a journey we know only too well.  Our small ship sails back out of the Mediterranean Basin and into the wild crossing of the Atlantic.  We sail past the Cape Verde Islands in Northern Africa and southwest to the largest nation in South America.  Our next destination is, Brazil.  I can almost hear the bass drum beats throbbing from the Clubs of Rio De Janeiro.  Never mind that we don’t speak Portuguese, we can use sign language to communicate. 1 finger to point at beer(or am I holding up two? Can’t see so bueno!? Hiccup…)   

Brazil has been an independent nation since 1822 when it split with Portugal.  The incredible size of Brazil places it in 4 time zones with almost 8.5 million square kilometers and 192 million people.  The majority of tourists in Brazil will only visit coastal cities such as Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paolo but that represents just a fraction of the total landmass.  Brazil is vast north to south as well as east to west.  It covers much of the interior of South America and shares borders with every country in S.A. except Chile and Ecuador. 

Perhaps the most important feature in Brazil is the Amazon River Basin and its rainforest.  Covering nearly 4000 miles, it is the largest river in the world in terms of volume with only the Nile being longer.  Abundant wildlife and fauna harbor secrets that science is rushing to study before it is destroyed by mankind’s development efforts.   To put into perspective what the impact of losing the Rainforest would mean, take a big breath.  Twenty percent of that breath originated in the Amazon Rainforest.  Imagine if you had to do without it.

Brazil’s history is partially one of indigenous tribes that inhabited the region at least 8,000 years ago.  To this day there are tribes that live in Pre-Colonial fashion within the remote rainforests.  They are some of the last peoples to remain undiscovered by the outside world.  From the reported 7 million indigenous people at the time of the first Portuguese settlers, only about 200,000 are believed to survive today.    

Another important and bloody chapter in the cultural heritage of Brazil is the 3 million slaves that were brought here from Africa.   The Portuguese slaving ships were some of the most retched conditions to be found in the world.  Although the Portuguese outlawed slavery in Portugal in 1760, it remained in Brazil until about the 1830’s when Britain began to hunt down active slaving ships and put them out of commission.  The sugar industry in Brazil required cheap labor and even today there are reports of slavelike working conditions in the industry.   Estimates put the number of “slaves” in Brazilian agriculture at around 25,000 people, in 2010. 

 Brazil is unique in that it was far more common for intermarriages between African Slaves, Natives and the Portuguese.  The people of Brazil reflect a beautiful tapestry of this mixed ancestry, far more so than in Colonial America or many of the Caribbean Islands.

This incredibly diverse heritage reflects in the various cultural facets of Brazilian life.  The music contains notes, melodies and nuances of each part of the melting pot.  The art and dance, as well as the food all reflect these same qualities. 

The national dish of Brazil is Feijoada and is a Portuguese dish that contains Black Beans or, feijão (Portuguese for beans) and a variety of meats trimmings and at least two types of sausage.  It is typically served over rice.  This dish originated in Portugal and has changed to incorporate local Brazilian ingredients and side dishes such as sliced oranges, chopped collard greens and the use of Black rather than White or Red beans such as those used in Portugal Recipes.

Feijoada is the same family of dish that is found whenever multiple cultures collide.  It combines local ingredients with the techniques of three different continents namely, South America, Europe and Africa and blends them into a simple hearty and tasty stew that uses inexpensive cuts of meat to nourish the population.  The recipes that tasted the best went on to become national favorites.  Feijoada is traditionally served on Wednesdays and Saturdays and is a recipe worth memorizing. 

I give this dish a 2 for difficulty.  There are several steps, three different pots, one frying pan and various kitchen paraphernalia used in preparing the stock, beans, seasoning and meats for this dish.  But if you are patient, and set up your prep list in advance, you should have no problems making a delicious meal.  Remember to soak your beans overnight in the fridge with a good amount of water.  These beans absorb large quantities of water and swell up.  Fill your soaking dish with 4 or more inches of water above the bean level.



Appearance: 3 out of 5

Aroma: 4 out of 5

Flavor: 5 out of 5

Total: 12 out of 15


2 cups (1 pound) Black Beans, rinsed and picked over

3/4 pound Pork Butt or Shoulder, trimmed of fat

6 ounces Slab Bacon

1/2 pound Smoked Pork Sausages

1/4 pound Hot Sausage such as Chorizo or Linguica

1 or 2 pounds Pork Neck Bones or Ham Hock

1 large Yellow Onion, chopped rough

2 to 4 ounces Dried Beef Carne Seca, minced (optional; see Note) or Salt Beef

For the Seasonings:

3 garlic cloves, minced and sauteed in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil till they begin to brown

6 green onions, including tops, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

Large handful of chopped fresh parsley (about 1/2 cup)

2 bay leaves, crumbled

2 tablespoons dried oregano, crushed

Salt and ground black pepper

Chopped fresh cilantro (for topping)


Soak the black beans overnight while covered in water by several inches.   (If you start early in the day and soak for about 6-8 hrs before preparation, you do not need to soak overnight.  Avoid the fast preparation method for this process)

Drain the beans.  Place the drained black beans in a saucepan and add water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Add additional water as needed to keep the beans covered.

While the black beans are cooking, prepare the meats. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.

Dice the pork butt or shoulder and the bacon into 1/2-inch cubes.

Place the pork, whole sausages, and bacon in a large baking pan. Roast until well done. The sausages will be ready after 35 to 40 minutes and the other meats after 45 to 60 minutes.

Cook the ham hock or neck bones at the same time as the meats are roasting. In a saucepan, combine the ham hock or neck bones and onion with water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 1 hour.

Remove the ham hock rounds from the water and remove the meat from the bones, if desired; set aside. Or you can leave the rounds intact for serving alongside the black beans.

Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl.

Add the strained onions from the liquid to the beans.

Add the cooking liquid to the beans if needed to keep them immersed during cooking.

Soak the Beef Carne Seca in warm water for fifteen minutes before the next steps.

Once the black beans are almost cooked, check to make sure there is plenty of cooking liquid in the pot. It should be rather soupy at this point.

Add the Beef Carne Seca to the pot and stir.  Cut the Sausages into rounds and add them and all the other Cooked Meats to the pot and stir.  You will see slick reddish oils with seasonings from the sausages floating to the surface.   

Then add all of the seasonings to the pot, including salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the beans are very tender. (Remember you can always add salt later but you can’t take it away once it is mixed.)

Taste and adjust the seasonings. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley just before serving.

Serve over rice and with traditional sides like Chopped Collared Greens and Sliced Oranges.

NOTE: Using dried beef adds complexity to the richness of this dish, but its inclusion is optional. If dried beef isn’t available at your butcher, Armour Brand makes a ground compressed dried beef sold in 2-1/2-ounce jars. Soak it in warm water to cover for 15 minutes to rinse off some of the salt.

Yield: 8 servings

Recipe adapted from:

Historical Reference: &Wikipedia articles

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    February 16, 2010 2:03 pm

    Hey Eric! This is my very favorite Brazilian dish. Hilaire and I used to go to Grill from Ipanema in Adams Morgan DC on Sundays just for this! Not only MUST you have the Collard greens and slicd oranges, but it needs a bit of FAROFA! Yours does look yummy though! And next time you can try salted pig tails (Grill did) instead of ham hocks or neck bones!

    • February 16, 2010 2:19 pm

      Yeah Lisa I was thinking of you when I cooked it. It was lovely and I would love to try it with pigs tail. I can get some at Compare for the next batch. There will be a next batch. We loved this dish….

  2. Jihad permalink
    February 17, 2010 8:46 am

    This was such a tasty dish. I am not a big bean soup fan, but this dish was bursting with flavor! My favorite meat was the Chorizo – which Jala says tastes like peperonni. 🙂

    • February 17, 2010 10:12 am

      I thought I would point out that Jihad likes to put sour cream or cream cheese with black beeans. It is a nice additional layer of flavor. Try it with this recipe for a change…

  3. February 17, 2010 9:20 am

    I feel like I get a history lesson every time I come over here! Your research is always so thorough and complete! My husband is dying to get to Brazil, so if we ever get there I will have to look for this dish. Looks delicious!

  4. February 17, 2010 10:11 am

    Thanks Nicole. My Granddad was a history teacher and my Dad is an English teacher and my Grandmother OJ loved to cook. I was doomed, no destined to write this blog! I am glad you like it. BTW most of my research is the Wiki variety with some supplements. I do not have time to write the articles I would like to write if given my druthers. The one year time limit on this challenge as well as my daily life make it impossible…:)


  5. February 20, 2010 10:31 pm

    This is a favorite dish in our household! My husband has spent time in different parts of Brazil and loves the country; I’m just waiting for my turn. In the meantime, I make feijoada and we daydream about exploring Brazil at leisure!

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