Feijão Tropeiro à moda Goiana

A plate of Feijao Tropeiro

My final stop (for real this time) on the tour of feijoadas was to be the Brazilian province of Goiás. But, for all the searching I did I was unable to find any recipes that claimed to be specific to Goiás. However this dish came up several times. Feijão tropeiro , or Cattleman’s Beans in english has some similarity to feijoada, if you strip it down and simplify it. A lot of the feijoada recipes talk about how historically the rich people ate their beans with meat, while the poor people ate them with manioc flour, which gave rise to the tradition of eating feijoada with farofa. This dish obviously comes from the same roots, with with beans, meat and manioc being the main ingredients.

Of course, this version isn’t exactly poor people’s food- it’s got quite a bit of meat as well as saffron, the most expensive spice on the planet, in it.

Ok, I should probably admit that I probably screwed a few things up. I worked from the Portuguese language recipes I found, which weren’t always the clearest on things that a native Brazilian would just be familiar with, leaving me to guess what to do. After having made it I searched again and found some english language versions and learned a few things

Of course, the first thing I screwed up wasn’t even related to how I interpreted the recipes- I overcooked my beans. I under estimated how much water I needed in my pressure cooker, so the top layer of beans wound up out of the water and still crunchy. After adding more water I brought it back to pressure for a few minutes, which of course meant that the 7/8ths of the beans that were cooked properly to begin with got extra soft and mushy. Looking at other peoples photos, I think the dish generally is more individual beans coated in manioc flour rather than the thick paste I wound up with. Scooping the beans from the pressure cooker directly into the pot instead of draining them first probably also added more bean broth to the finished dish than was ideal as well.

The second big thing I screwed up was adding the crispy pork back into the dish. Had I searched for an english recipe I would have found out that the cracklings are usually served on the side. It’s also traditionally served with rice, which I didn’t do, although there’s enough left overs that I could cook up a pot to eat with the rest of it.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is making the crackling to begin with. 2 kilos of pork belly is about 4 ½ pounds. It’s most effective to work with a single layer at a time, and in my largest pot it took three batches to get it all rendered, which took almost an hour and a half. In the future I think I would try to cut my pork belly smaller to help with faster rendering and crispier pieces, and also possibly start with a couple tablespoons of some other fat in the pot for the first batch to help it start rendering and crisping faster.

After the pork belly is cooker, you drain off the pork fat (I got a full pint of rendered lard to use for something else!) and render some bacon in the same pot, and then cook your other ingredients in the bacon fat. After cooking the onion and sausage I decided that there was an awful lot of fat in the pot and poured some of it off, but in retrospect I think that maybe it would have helped the final consistency to have more fat to combine with the manioc flour instead of it congealing with the beans.

My last mistake was putting the saffron in before I had the other ingredients for that step ready to go. I think I scorched it a little by adding it directly to the hot fat without having the collards and liquid ready to add immediately. It’s not inedible, but I detect a faint hint of a burnt element to the saffron flavor.

The recipes I looked at didn’t specify what type of beans to use. I used pinto beans. I feel like some sort of white bean might more traditional, based on pictures I saw.

After a string of recipes with uncommon (in this country) cuts of meat and sausages, it was nice to have a recipe that mostly called for things that were easy to find. I had calabrese sausages left over from a previous feijoada recipe, but they are available on Amazon, and I already had manioc flour (aka cassava flour) as well. (You want a coarser grind of this, not fine baking flour). The only other Brazilian specific ingredient is the caldo bacon, or bacon bouillon, which I was surprised not to find on Amazon. However there are a number of Brazilian markets around the country with online stores that will ship anywhere in the US. I bought it from Levo*, and was pleasantly surprised when it was delivered just four days after I ordered, even though I ordered on a Friday.

On a different note, it may be a couple of months before you see any more new content here. Between work and other projects I don’t have a lot of time for blogging these days, and I noticed several months ago that WordPress had changed how it selects featured photos for posts and I need to go back and fix all my posts from the last two years. Most people aren’t looking for hearty bean recipes in the summer anyway, so I’ll try to use my blogging energy to get those fixed and be back with some new recipes as the weather cools down.


Feijão Tropeiro à moda Goiana

Serves: 12
Prep: 1:30 (more or less, depending on how big your pan is)
Cook: ~30 minutes
Total: ~2:00

1 ¼ kg beans

2 kg pork belly, diced
Salt to taste. 
600 g bacon, diced

6 cloves garlic
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large onions, diced
3-4 calabrese sausages, sliced

2 cubes caldo bacon
1 Tablespoon saffron
1 small bunch collards or kale, sliced thin. 

1 large chili pepper, minced
1 bunch parsley, minced
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper, ground

Cassava flour to taste

1 bunch green onion, chopped

Cook the beans in a pressure cooker, following your pressure cooker’s instructions. (usually about 15 minutes at high pressure). Allow the pressure to release naturally. Drain the beans, reserving a little of the cooking liquid. (You can, of course, cook them without a pressure cooker as well. Allow 1 ½-2 hours for unsealed beans.)

Meanwhile, season the pork belly with salt and fry in a large pot until it is crispy. Start with a single layer in a cold pot over low heat, and once some fat has rendered raise the heat to crisp the pieces. Work in batches if necessary. Set aside on paper towel to drain. 

Drain the extra fat from the pot, leaving a tablespoon or two. Add the bacon and fry until crispy. Set aside with the pork belly. 

Use the side of your knife to crush the garlic with the salt. Add it to the fat in the pan and fry for 30 seconds or so, until it begins to brown. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes or so. Add the sausage and cook for another 5 minutes. 

Add the bouillon, the saffron and the collards, with just enough bean cooking liquid to disolve the bouillon cubes.bring to a simmer and cook until collards wilt.

Add the beans, chili pepper, parsley and black pepper. Mix well, and heat through. Add salt to taste, and add cassava flour a bit at a time until desired consistency is reached. 

Serve with rice and the crispy pork cracklings on the side.

*I receive no compensation for mentioning this product.

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