Feijão Congo

A plate of feijão congo and rice

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.Brazilian feijoada made with black beans

The basic ingredients of feijoada are beans and fresh pork or beef. In Brazil, it is usually made with black beans (feijoada à brasileira). The stew is best prepared over low heat in a thick clay pot.It is usually served with rice and assorted sausages such as chouriçomorcela (blood sausage), farinheira, and others, which may or may not be cooked in the stew.


Our next stop on the tour of feijoadas is Cape Verde, a group of islands in the Atlantic ocean, off the west coast of Africa. Wait a minute, you’re saying. This dish isn’t called feijoada. I searched and searched and although I found many references to feijoada being a dish eaten in Cape Verde, no one seemed to have a recipe for Cape Verdean feijoada. However one site had a recipe for feijão congo, which they said is congo beans cooked in the style of feijoada. When I started searching for feijão congo instead of feijoada low and behold a number of recipes showed up, and if you look at my recipe you’ll see that it pretty much boils down to Portuguese feijoada with a different bean.

So what are congo beans? In English they’re most commonly called pigeon peas. Or you might know them as gandul, as in the the Puerto Rican or Dominican staple dish arroz con gandules, and in India they are the bean from which Toor Dal is made. They are native to India, but now a staple crop across much of south Asia, Africa and tropical areas of the Americas.

If you remember my post about Stew Peas you’ll know that across several Caribbean countries most types of beans are known as peas. Pigeon peas are one of those, very much a variety of bean. However they are small and fairly round as beans go, so they actually reminded me of what we call peas, especially after soaking. The texture of the cooked beans also vaguely reminded me of peas.

A number of the recipes I looked at called for some variety of starchy orange vegetable (squash, pumpkin or sweet potato), but none of them were common enough to make it out of the optional ingredients category. I think that adding one of those might make the dish more authentic, and would certainly help differentiate it from other other versions of the dish we’ve explored so far. Then again, there were recipes which didn’t include it, so it’s not a requirement.

In the Portuguese and Brazilian version of this dish, as well as some of the similar Spanish dishes I’ve done recently, the recipe calls for a number of different parts of the pig. As we work our way into some of the less well to do parts of the world we start to see recipes, like this one, that just call for “pork” and the expectation is that you’ll use whatever you have on hand. I suspect that feet, snouts and ears continue to make their way into the feijoada pots in poorer countries at least as much as they do in the rich ones, but you are free to use whatever you like. In this case I just bought a pork roast of the appropriate weight and cut it up into bite sized pieces. I could probably have also dug through the freezer and come up with a bunch of odd scraps of pork left over from previous dishes.

I have once again used Spanish chorizo in this, although a Portuguese style chourico would be more authentic. I did order Linguica* for the dish from Amazon. At first glance I did find it considerably cheaper on other websites, but when you took minimum orders and shipping charges into account Amazon turned out to be the better deal. You could probably use any other flavorful smoked sausage if you can’t justify $30/ lb. for suasage.

Feijão Congo

Serves: 8-10
Prep: 45 Minutes
Cook:2-3 hours
Total: ~3 hours, plus soaking time.

2 ½ cups dried pigeon peas
Water, as needed

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ½ Tablespoons minced garlic
1 ½ medium onions, diced
2 bay leaves
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

2 ½ lbs. pork stew meat
Paprika, to taste
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

1 lb. linguica sausage, sliced

1 ½ sticks chorizo, sliced
2 cups tomato puree
⅔ lb. cabbage, chopped
½ lb. carrots, sliced

Rice, to serve


12 oz salt pork, diced
1 lb. acorn squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1-2 bouillon cubes
⅔ lb. bacon, chopped
Spare Ribs, as part of pork
1 ¼ lbs. Sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1-2 red chili peppers, minced
2 sprigs of cilantro, for garnish
½ chicken, cut into serving pieces
⅓ lb pumpkin, peeled and diced

Pick over the beans, rinse, drain, cover with cool water and soak overnight.

Drain the beans, place in a pot and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered for 1-2 hours, until just tender.

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven and sauté onion, garlic and bay leaves for a few minutes, until onion is translucent. Add fresh tomato and cook until it starts to break down. 

Add pork to the pot, season with paprika, salt and pepper, and cook until no longer pink on the outside. 

Add the sliced sausages and cook for a couple minutes, then add the tomato puree, cabbage and carrots. Cook briefly, until the cabbage starts to wilt, then add the cooked beans and enough of their broth to barely cover everything. Simmer, uncovered until pork is tender, 30-45 minutes or more.

Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

Serve with rice. 

*I receive no compensation for mentioning this product.

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