(Brazilian Black Beans)

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This is the national dish of Brazil. It is traditionally served on a Saturday and it is a festive meal to share with family and friends. There are as many recipes as there are cooks in Brazil and some regional variations too. I learned to make feijoada from my aunt in Rio and have adapted the recipe to use the ingredients that I can find in the U.S. We always start with caipirinhas and end with the Brazilian Style Flan for dessert. Plan to spend the morning in the kitchen and the afternoon around the table (all to the sounds of Brazilian music...).

Feijoada Restaurante Fellini Feijoada Restaurante Fellini

This is the recipe featured in National Geographic Traveler magazine, July/August 1999 issue and on the Peace Corps website in 2004. Yummy and now famous too!


8 cups dried black beans

3 pounds carne seca (Brazilian salted cured beef)

2 pounds sweet sausage (I use Portuguese chorišo when available)

2 pounds baby back spareribs

2 bay leaves

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

The night before, soak the beans in a large bowl with water to cover at least 3-4 inches. Soak the carne seca in water to cover. The next morning, drain the beans and place in a large pot with water to cover by at least 3 inches. Bring the beans to a boil in medium heat.

Meanwhile, cut the carne seca into 1-inch pieces. Cut the sausage into 1-inch pieces. (When I use the Portuguese sausage I usually prick it with a fork and simmer it for ten minutes in enough water to cover; then I cut it.) Cut the ribs into 2-rib sections.

Add the carne seca, sausage, ribs and bay leaves to the beans. Simmer for about 2 hours or until soft (Goya brand black beans usually take about 2 hours) , stirring from time to time, adding water as necessary to keep beans covered. Keep an eye on the beans so they don't burn at the bottom!

Chop the onion and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden brown. Add two ladlefuls of beans and mash them. Put this back into the pot. It will thicken and season the beans.

Continue to simmer gently for at least another hour, adding water as necessary. A good feijoada should have a creamy consistency when done. Remove the bay leaves. Some people take the meats out at this point and serve them separately on a platter. I like to leave them in with the beans, it keeps them hot. Serve the feijoada and garnishes in ceramic bowls and platters, it will add a touch of authenticity!

To serve feijoada, put a mound or rice on your plate and place a ladleful or two of feijoada on top. Arrange oranges and couve around the sides. Sprinkle the beans and couve with farofa and add a spoonful of sauce to the side.

Pictured above from left: salt pork, carne seca, and sausages at the central market in São Paulo.

Garnish for feijoada:

Slices from 6 oranges: using a sharp knive, peel the oranges, cut into thin slices and arrange them on a platter.

White rice: cook according to package instructions or use the recipe for arroz Ó brasileira (Brazilian Style Rice).

Farofa (Toasted Manioc Meal)

Couve Ó mineira (Brazilian Style Collard Greens)

Molho apimentado (Hot Sauce)

Maria's Cookbook