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Eat this! Hearty Brazilian feijoada, just in time for Carnival!

Texas de Brazil’s <i>feijoada</i>

Texas de Brazil’s feijoada

What it is: The national dish of Brazil, feijoada is a flavorful stew of beans, beef and pork, a perfect dish to serve in honor of the Carnival season (Carnaval in Portuguese), which begins in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, Feb. 13, and runs through Fat Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Evandro Caregnato

Evandro Caregnato

Where it comes from: There are a lot of theory about feijoada’s origins. A popular legend says it was created by African slaves from the offal left them after their Portuguese overseers took the best parts. However, the earliest printed references to the dish appeared in the mid-19th century, when it was served in decidedly upper-class restaurants in cities like Recife and Rio. Another story says it was brought by colonists from Portugal. However, black beans are native to South America.

What to do with it: Feijoada is traditionally served with white rice and chopped collard greens (couve mineira) and garnished with a sprinkling of lightly roasted coarse cassava flour (farofa) and a peeled and sliced orange.

Texas de Brazil’s feijoada
Brazilian black bean stew
Chef Evandro Caregnato

This recipe, from Texas de Brazil in River North and Schaumburg, has been adapted for American home kitchens, but you can substitute any pork or beef cuts you prefer. Serve with rice, collards and farofa (recipe follows).

1/2 pound smoked bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound Portuguese linguiça or Spanish-style chorizo sausage (available at some specialty markets and ethnic stores such as Brasil Legal in Bucktown and the deli at Cafe Iberico in River North) or other hard, dry, smoked sausage, sliced
1 pound beef sirloin, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/2 onion, diced small
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled
About 1/2 gallon water
2 pounds dry black beans, soaked overnight in water and drained
2 bay leaves
1 small hot chili pepper
Salt to taste

In a heavy-bottomed pan, over medium high heat, fry the bacon in the oil and add the sausage and beef, cooking until nicely colored. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the water, beans, bay leaves and hot pepper, and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the bean are soft and the sauce is thick. Salt to taste. 8 servings.

Farofa

2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces bacon, diced (1 cup)
1/2 Spanish onion, diced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, cut in half
1 cup golden raisons
1 500-gram package seasoned cassava or manioc flour (farinha de mandioca, such as Farofa Pronta Yoki, available at ethnic stores)
2 tablespoons parsley chopped
3 hard-cooked eggs, diced

Heat the butter in a saute pan and cook the bacon; add the onions and cook until caramelized. Stir in all the remaining ingredients. About 5 cups.

 
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