It’s become one of the first questions I ask these days when I go muraling.  What is one of the foods that I should eat while I’m here?  The overwhelming answer in southern Brasil was feijoada (think “phase” and say “phazh WAH dah”).  I had no idea what it was, but I was a man on the lookout.  And, when I learned that my interpreter, Alisson, worked at his mother’s family restaurant, well, I knew where I was going to get my recipe.  And, if you knew Alisson, you’d know he would come through for you.

Feijoida is a rice and beans dish which makes perfect since since “feijão” is Portuguese for "beans".  It appeared that rice and beans were a staple at almost every main meal in Brasil.  The people I discussed this with were a little surprised it wasn’t the same in the USA.  At least in my life, potatoes play a much greater role than these two Latin American staples.

As with most recipes, there are regional and family differences.  You cook to suit your tastes and budget.  With feijoada, there were most certainly differences in the choice of pork included.  Give me ham.  Give me bacon. There are other parts of a pig I will never beg for.  But, they appear to be in the poor man’s version of feijoada.

I tend to tell myself I have simple tastes.  I’d really rather stay at a budget private hotel than any hotel with stars.  HOWEVER, I draw the line at fiejoada.  A rich man’s version would have bacon, sausage and beef.  The poor man’s dish includes pig ears and trotters. Now, I actually had to look up that last word.  Imagine learning a new English word in Brasil?  Well, this dish needs a cleverly disguised word like “trotters” to hide the fact that it is pig’s feet.  Pigs feet are like chicken feet.  I’ve spent enough time in my life on farms to know what those feet spend their entire lives walking in.  There just isn’t enough soap in the world to clean them.  And, I don’t want to taste soap or what they stepped in!  No way, nothing doing, nope.  Sometimes you get what you pay for and the price is right for the rich man’s version of feijoada.
Alisson Lima, Campo Mourão, Brasil
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tbs olive oil or canola oil
4 cups dried black beans
3 bay leaves
1 orange
salt and pepper to taste
a few pig trotters
a few pig ears and/or tails
½ lb salted pork ribs
½ lb. dried beef
1 lb. salt pork
1 lb. pork sausage
1 lb Portuguese sausage
1 lb Italian sausage
1 lb corned beef, cubed
1 lb smoked, lean ham hocks
½ lb pork loin
½ lb smoked bacon
I looked at a few recipes.  If you want to serve 8 to 10 people, use six pounds of meat.  Serving a smaller amount of people, use less meat.  When I had feijoada, my dish only had sausage, bacon, and pig skin.  Yes, I said pig skin.  I enjoyed the sausage.  I love all bacon.  But, I didn’t know what to do once I found it in my mouth.  I wasn’t about to chew it, but I didn’t want to offend anyone either.

I swallowed it whole. 

When you make your dish, I’ve provided all kinds of options for you to choose from.  Nobody would use it all.  Options.  Options.  Options.  But honestly, I’m not recommending pig trotters, ears, or tails either.  
Boil the salted meats for about 12 minutes.  Next, do the same with the dried beef.  Then, cut or slice all your meat into the size you want.  Whatever you consider bite size works.

You’ll need a large soup pot to hold all this.  Heat up the oil and then fry up your diced onions and garlic for a minute to get a light golden brown.  The recipe calls for three cloves but you can never have too much garlic in your life or recipe.

Put your beans in the pot with two quarts of water.  Toss in the bay leaves.  Cut your orange in half, peel it, and add it to the mix.  Then add the rest of your meat you decided upon.  Cover it and simmer the goods for two hours until the beans are ready.  Stir occasionally, add water as needed, and ladle off any oily scum that might find its way to the surface.  Yuck!
On every occasion that I saw feijoada served, it was with rice.  Every cookbook called for a decorative addition of orange slices to the recipe.  That sounds beautiful.  I never saw it.

Other suggested goodies with your feijoada include cassava meal (called manioc in Brasil) with butter and eggs, collard greens, kale, and cachaça. Cachaça is the local distilled sugar cane juice.  I wouldn’t recommend it with feijoada, coffee, or anything else.  But, it is high on the list of Brasilians’ favorite alcoholic drink.