Feijoada (Portuguese pronunciation: [fejʒuˈadɐ]) is a stew of beans with beef and pork. The name feijoada comes from feijão, ‘bean’ in Portuguese. It is widely prepared in the Portuguese-speaking world, with slight variations.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feijoada
First of all, a housekeeping announcement. I have created a FaceBook page and twitter account (@Lorincoksbeans) for this website. I’m not sure what I’ll actually do with them, but Word press tells me that I have so many shares on FB and Twitter and I’m hoping that maybe this will allow me to see a little bit of where my posts are being shared. I have certain posts that seem to be getting a lot of traffic and I’d love to find out where it’s coming from. Please feel free to connect on one of those platforms if you’re so inclined !
On to our regularly scheduled business, and time for the next stop on our tour of feijoadas. If you’ve been following along, you’ll notice that the wikipedia quote I’m opening with has changed slightly. The feijoada article has been edited in the last few weeks, since I first decided to go down this road. I briefly thought of using that as an excuse to skip on to other recipes, but decided I’d already promised this exploration, so I’ll go ahead with it.
The challenge with many of these variations from smaller former Portuguese colonies is finding recipes. Countries like Angola and Guinea-Bissau are definitely towards the third-world end of the spectrum, so recipes for local variations on a dish introduced by colonists are hard to come by on the internet. I found five different sites with recipes for Angolan Feijoada, and four of them had identical recipes except for minor differences in the number of ounces of beans, and which type of chili pepper they called for. Even the fifth site, lekkerafrika.nl, was pretty much identical except that certain ingredients were replaced with more traditional African ones. If you live in Europe, they might be able to sell you some of them (although most of the links within their recipe no longer work).
Needless to say, when all the recipes are identical, my method of creating recipes comes up with the same thing. I dug a little trying to find where this recipe originated, without much luck. The Global Reader posted it in 2012, and cited the now-defunct Celtnet.org.uk as their source. Celtnet used to be a wonderful resource for historical recipes (I first stumbled across the site looking for recipes from ancient Rome). I just used the Internet Archive’s WayBack machine to go back and look at the recipe as it first appeared on Celtnet back in 2009, and the source is not cited, so it seems likely that it’s lost in the mists of time.
Anyway, there are two major differences between the Angolan and Portuguese versions of this dish. First, instead of massive amounts of pork, the Angolan version uses chicken. There’s still some pork in the form of chouriço or chorizo sausage, but not the half a dozen different cuts of pork and different sausages that the more famous versions have. I used the dry Spanish style chorizo available in grocery stores here, and was surprised that it actually softened up in this dish (If you’ve been following along you’ll know that several times recently I have referred to how it doesn’t work well in stew type dishes. Maybe it just needs to be sautéd a little bit before it goes into the boiling liquid). I used bone in chicken thighs, but in the end I pulled the bones out and shredded the meat up a bit, because there were only four thighs, but more than four servings of everything else. I think it might be more traditional to use a cut up chicken, with both legs and breasts and have enough pieces for every serving to get a big chunk. Do whatever works for you.
The second difference is the use of red palm oil*. This is the traditional cooking fat across much of central Africa, and much of what I read about it referred to it’s distinctive flavor as an essential part of central/west African cuisine, and I saw lots of comments from people saying they don’t like the flavor, and what can they use instead. Honestly, I couldn’t pick out a distinct flavor that I attribute to the palm oil, which is surprising given that there is over half a cup in the dish. If there is a palm oil flavor, it’s masked by the chorizo and chili peppers.
The last distinctly different ingredient is the chili peppers. This was also the one place where the different recipes I looked at called for different things, although this is likely due to confusion about piri-piri vs. bird’s eye chilis. Piri-piri is a variety of Capsicum Frutescens, commonly grown in Africa and Portugal. (To be fair, an alternate name for this pepper is African bird’s eye). Bird’s eye, aka Thai chili, on the other hand is a species of Capsicum Annum, commonly grown in south east Asia. Despite being different species, the peppers are very similar and can pretty much be used interchangeably, so it’s not too surprising that different recipes will call for different peppers. I actually bought three different product as options for this recipe. My local grocery store had green Thai chilis, and then I bought both dried* and pickled* piri-piri peppers from Amazon. As best I can tell in Africa they usually wait until the peppers are red and ripe before using them, so I decided against using the fresh ones, and the pickled ones seemed like a better match to the dish than dried ones. I don’t know that the choice makes that much difference to the taste of the final dish though.
Their are two minor adjustments I’ve made from the recipes I sourced this from from. Other recipes call for 14 oz of chorizo, but I used one stick, which is about 8 oz, and it felt like plenty. Also, most of the recipes called for initially simmering the beans for about 2 hours, but my beans were on the verge of falling apart after 1 hour, so I went ahead and added the vegetables. The time it takes for your beans to soften will vary greatly depending on what kind of beans you’re using, how old they are, and how long you have soaked them, so keep an eye on them and proceed with the recipe as soon as they are soft so that they won’t turn to mush before the dish is served.
Hands on Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 2-3 hours
Total: 2-3 hours plus soaking time.
13 oz. dried white beans (cannellini, butter beans, etc)
5 oz. red palm oil, divided
1 ½ lbs. chicken pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
6 piri-piri peppers, minced
8 oz. chorizo or courico, sliced
3 carrots sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small head cabbage, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 bunch parsley, chopped
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
2 scotch bonnet peppers, in place of piri-piri
Check over your beans and remove any bad beans or stones. Rinse and leave to soak over night.
Drain your beans and place in a heavy bottomed pot. Cover with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a moderate simmer and cook, partially covered for 1-2 hours, until beans are tender.
Meanwhile, heat about 2 Tablespoons of the palm oil in a large skillet. Season the chicken pieces with a little salt and brown on all sides, then set them aside. Add the garlic, onion, and chilies to the oil and sauté until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add the chorizo to the pan and return the chicken. Sauté for another 2 minutes, then add a little water to keep the meat from burning, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked.
Once the beans are soft, add the carrots, tomatoes, cabbage and bay leaves and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add the chicken mixture, parsley, and remaining ½ cup palm oil to the pot. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes.
Serve with rice.
*I receive no compensation for mentioning this product.