Feijao Carioca

I’m pretty sure that rice and beans are served in most homes across Brasil as the daily staple in their diet.  They are a rich source of iron and protein.  While feijoada was prepared with black beans, light brown beans were the most common beans I saw on a daily basis.

When I asked my Brasilian friends for a recipe, they just smiled at me.  You toss them in a pot and cook them.  They didn’t realize that I was smiling back at them about one unique difference in how the food was served.  I’ve always eaten my rice and beans with rice on the plate first and then topped with the beans.  What I observed in Brasil was beans first, next rice on top and then everything mixed together with a fork on the plate.

But, back to the recipe, I still needed a little more help than “tossing in a pot and cooking”.

Feijão Carioca
All Around Brasil
I am not sure if the end result is any different if you have old or new beans when you prepare the dish, but I do know how to test them.  Bite into a raw bean.  If it is easy to bite, it is a new bean.  If it is too hard to bite, you have an old bean in your hands and in your mouth.
I already told you that my friends said this was an easy recipe.  Grab the amount of beans you want to cook.  Sort through them to see if there are any really old beans – and even pebbles – to discard.  Rinse everything thoroughly at the sink with a sieve.  Soak them in water overnight and then pitch the water.

In the morning, rinse the beans one more time.
If your test revealed old beans, soak them in hot water an additional half hour. Use a ratio of one cup of beans to three cups of water.  Place it all in a large pot and start things boiling.  I repeat, use a large pot.  Those little guys are going to expand.  Cover the goods.  When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so things just boil lightly for thirty minutes.   

At this time, stir in butter, salt, pepper, red pepper, and even jalapeño peppers to taste.  If your tastes do not include flaming pepper, that’s just fine.  I never saw it actually used, but it was recommended.  The amount of butter just depends on how many beans you use.  Think in tablespoons.  You could use bacon fat instead of butter.  Options in your kitchen!  Continue cooking for another 45 minutes to an hour.

You know your beans are ready when they are soft enough to mash with a fork without any kind of effort.  If they don’t appear ready after the suggested time, continue cooking, and check on those stubborn little beans every ten minutes. They should be soft but not crumbly.
Ingredients per            
cup of beans:  
½ onion, cubed 
3 cloves of garlic 
1 Tbs olive oil
butter to taste
salt, pepper and hot
.....peppers to taste
1 slice of diced bacon
1 sliced sausage
1 bay leaf
In a separate pan, sauté the onions and garlic.  Add bacon or sausage and slowly cook it up in a covered dish.  Add a mash of a few beans and a little water to thicken everything up in a broth.  You could also blend up some of the beans in a blender to get a mash that will help to thicken your bean dish.

Add the broth and a bay leaf back to the beans.  Let everything thicken for about ten minutes.
And now, you, too, know how to simply "toss those beans into a pot and cook them".  For me, it wasn’t quite as simple as everyone said when they smiled at me.