Feijoada Carioca

A plate of feijoada carioca (Rio de Janeiro style feijoada) with rice and kale.

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.

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.


What? More feijoada?

We’ve looked at feijoada around the world, but since Brazil is such a huge country, and many Brazilians consider feijoada one of their national dishes, I’m going to devote a few more posts to exploring the regional variations. Carioca means “in the style of Rio de Janeiro”, which is where we’re starting.

I’ve already featured a generic Brazilian feijoada, created using the English language recipes that show up when I Google “feijoada” with no other modifiers. Once I start looking into more regional variations I wind up in the land of Google translate, working from posts originally written in Portuguese. Machine translation has come a long way in the last decade, and it is usually pretty easy to follow, but there are a few places where I encounter questionable translations, and even a few words it doesn’t know. I do my best to find the right answer, but sometimes it’s just a matter of what seems right to me. For example, several of the recipes I looked at called for 4 or more (I think one called for 10!) HEADS of garlic. Now I like garlic, but this seemed excessive, and I chose to believe that the local terminology uses the word for head to describe a clove of garlic, rather than the whole bulb. But I could be wrong. Maybe the defining feature of feijoada in Rio is massive amounts of garlic.

Of course, at first glance this isn’t that different from the original feijoada à Brasileira recipe I shared in 2020 and 2021. At first I had decided to just skip it and move on to other versions that were more obviously different, but then I put together a recipe for the version from Minas Gerais, which at first glance is also fairly similar to the generic recipe, and when I looked at the two side by side I decided that there really are enough subtle differences to warrant sharing both of them. Of course, I’m not enough of an expert to say for certain that the differences I notice are actually representative of reality or just a product of the method I use to make my recipes and which source recipes I look at. I’d bet that the difference I see in the meats used is more related to the random chance of which recipes I looked at, but the fact that tomato showed up in enough of the Rio versions to make it off of the optional list while in Minas oranges did so seems like maybe more of an indicator of local variations.

Besides looking at subtle variation in recipes, I also learned that I probably gave some inaccurate information in my original recipe, regarding carne seca. While the english language sites I looked at mostly suggested beef jerky as a substitute, and the product I bought for that recipe was basically shredded jerky, when I dug a little deeper into what Brazilian carne seca is, I found out that while it’s a “dried salted beef” product, it’s not generally as fully dried as jerky, and corned beef would actually be a better substitute. I bought this product*, made in Canada, from Amazon, and I would agree. The texture of carne seca is firmer, but for that serious salty, beefy punch, corned beef is pretty spot on flavor wise.

The two types of sausage called for in most of the Portuguese language recipes I looked at are Calabrese and Paio. Calabrese is a type of sausage that was introduced around the world by Italian immigrants from Calabria. You can find it online fairly easily, although I made sure to get a Brazilian version, as I suspect that there are variations to the recipe in different countries.

Paio, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be available outside of Brazil (at least not in the USA). The recommended substitute is a Spanish or Portuguese style chorizo/courico.

My recipe wound up with a large number of different salted pork cuts. Here in the upper midwest the only salt pork generally available is the little package of Hormel salt pork, which I think is made of belly. You could use that in a pinch, but its way fattier than most of the cuts I called for. I had some salted tails in my freezer left over from making Stew Peas, but struck out in my brief internet search for the rest of the cuts. But, I had some plain ears in the freezer, and loin and ribs are readily available fresh, so I made my own. I weighed out the appropriate amounts of the meats and tossed them with a couple handfuls of salt, and then sealed them up with my vacuum sealer and left them in the fridge for a couple days. If I was intending them for long term storage I would do some more research about salt to meat ratios, curing time, etc, (I did watch an interesting video of an historical reenactment craftsman making salt pork in a small wooden barrel) but in this case I was just trying to get some salt into the meat, and it seems to have been fairly successful- even after soaking overnight, the ribs are possibly saltier than the carne seca, and I definitely didn’t have to add any salt to the finished feijoada.

Throughout Brazil feijoada is typically served as feijoada completa, with rice, couvre (collard greens or kale), farofa (toasted cassava flour), and orange slices. I wasn’t feeling like going all out this time so I just did rice and kale. Farofa adds an extra crunch, but I don’t really miss it. I would probably appreciate the fresh fruit element to help cut the richness of the meat and beans though.

On a personal note, after over two years of unemployment, I start a new job next week. I’m moving out of the restaurant industry and into manufacturing. I fully intend to keep cooking beans and blogging about it, but working out of the house eight hours a day again is going to be an adjustment, so things may be even more sporadic than usual around here until I learn how to balance work and life again.

Feijoada Carioca

Serves: 8+
Prep: ~45 minutes
Cook: 3-4 hours
Total :~4 hours

600 g black beans

335 g carne seca 

380 g salted pork loin
325 g salted pork ribs
1 salted pork ear
1 salted pork tail

290 g fresh beef
315 g fresh pork loin

2 Calabrese sausages
1 paio or chourico sausage, cut in large chunks
2 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon corn oil
250 g bacon, diced
1 ½ large onions, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

Black pepper and salt to taste

Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches kale, chiffonade

1 salted pigs foot
1 small red pepper, diced
1 orange, quartered, cooked with beans
265 g salted pork leg
250 g smoked tongue
¼ cup cachaca
Lard, in place of olive oil
330 g fresh pork ribs
1 fresh pork foot
370 g smoked ham
300 g chorizo
¾ Tablespoon vinegar, in meat cooking pot

Pick over beans for bad beans or foreign objects. Rinse, cover with cold water and soak overnight.

Cover carne seca with cold water and soak overnight, refrigerated.

Cover salted meats with cold water and soak overnight, changing water 2-3 times.

Drain salted pork and place in a large pot, along with fresh meats and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours. As the various meats are cooked remove them, cut into serving pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, drain the beans and carne seca. Place in another pot along with sausages, bay leaves and water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.

When beans are tender, heat olive oil and bacon in a sauté pan. When bacon is rendered, add onion and 4 cloves of garlic and sauté until translucent. Add tomato and cook for 5 minutes. Add a couple spoonfuls of beans and mash them with a fork. Cook and stir for 10 minutes or so. Return to the bean pot, along with meats. 

Continue to simmer, uncovered, until gravy thickens to desired consistency. Season with black pepper and salt to taste. (Be careful; there’s already a lot of salt from the carne seca and pork. I did not need to add any extra).

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan and add 4 cloves of garlic. Sauté until lightly browned, then add kale and sauté for a few minutes. 

Serve feijoada over cooked rice, with the kale on the side.

*I receive no compensation for mentioning this product.

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