Feijoada uses a kind of black kidney bean called feijao preto, which is stewed together with dried pork. They also put salt, pepper, chopped onions, garlic, and bay leaves in it. The mixture is stewed in a pressure cooker until the meat is tender, and it has a great flavor. It’s served with white rice and chopped kale cooked in a pan with garlic. There’s also farofa, which is made by cooking cassava flour in a pan along with finely-chopped bacon, olives, onions, garlic, and other ingredients. The dish typically includes sliced orange as well. You’ll sometimes get a shot of a Brazilian drink called caipirinha with it as well. Caipirinha is cocktail made with cachaça, a spirit distilled from sugarcane, sliced lemon, sugar, and crushed ice.
That’s the full feijoada set. What you see in the picture is for one person, but it’s so much food that even two women couldn’t finish it off. Really filling!
There are restaurants that specialize in feijoada, but regular restaurants have it on their lunch menus on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Because it’s a time-consuming dish to make and tastes better when you make a lot of it, people usually prepare it at home when the family is getting together on the weekends or holidays.
The pork used in feijoada is not just the loin or the fatty parts, but also the ears, feet, and tail. It’s said that it was originally prepared by slaves who mixed the black kidney beans meant to be livestock feed with the parts of the pig that the plantation owners (the Portuguese) wouldn’t eat—the ears, tail, and so on. Turns out it isn’t true, though. Stews made of meat, beans, and vegetables existed in Europe even before the Portuguese came to Brazil. In France, they’re called cassoulet. The Portuguese added black kidney beans grown in South America to cassoulet dishes, and feijoada was born.
Feijoada is labor-intensive, so you can’t make it every day. The Brazilians have other homestyle dishes made with beans, however. They cook feijão carioca (pinto beans) by boiling them with garlic, onions, bacon, and linguiça, which is a kind of Portuguese sausage. It’s eaten on top of rice like curry or stroganoff. Even just arroz com feijão (rice and beans) is packed with minerals, iron, vitamin B, protein, and other nutrients and is a staple on any Brazilian dinner table. You can freeze it too, but people who are particular about the flavor make it fresh every day.
The ingredients are easy to get in any supermarket. Because the pork is dried, you have to rinse the salt off of it first. As you can see from the photo, you can simply get any part of the pig you want in Brazil. Feijoada is even sold in cans, which is probably convenient if you’re traveling or want to bring some home as a souvenir.