Brazilian Feijoada is a black bean and pork stew that is often served with farofa, toasted cassava flour. This comfort food is sometimes called the national dish of Brazil.
Feijoada, a popular Brazilian dish, owes its name to its main ingredient, black beans (feijão). It is a rich stew traditionally made from different parts of the pig, such as feet, ears, and bacon, as well as other smoked meats. (But don’t worry, I have some substitutions for you if you’re not up to cooking with pig ears and feet!)
Brazilian cuisine is very regionalized, each region has its own typical dishes. This is the result of a mixture of different European, Indigenous, and African ingredients and influences.
In the northeast region of Brazil, there is a great influence of African cuisine.
In the northern region, there is a greater influence of the Natives, where the use of cassava and fish come in to play in many of their dishes.
In the southeast region of Brazil, there are diverse dishes linked to the Bandeirantes (bandits) that include ingredients like corn, beans, and pork.
In the south region, Italian cuisine has a great influence on dishes such as polenta and pizza. And we also see the influence of German cuisine.
History of Feijoada
Some historians say that feijoada (pronounced fay-jwa-da) is a dish that was created by African slaves. After feasts given by the owners of the plantations, the slaves would pick up the leftovers and mix them with black beans, making a new stew.
This new dish they served with farofa (fried cassava flour with bacon) and orange slices.
Other historians say that a similar dish was consumed in the north of Portugal, where its main ingredients were white or red beans and pork.
Whichever the story is, feijoada is a symbol of the fusion within Brazilian gastronomic culture. It is a Brazilian icon.
When to Eat Feijoada
Feijoada is usually eaten on Wednesdays and Saturdays when restaurants traditionally offer it on their menus and families prepare it in social gatherings.
Being a low-cost dish, Feijoada is consumed by all social classes.
In some parts of Brazil, feijoada is served during the winter months. However, in Rio de Janeiro this dish is served all year around.
How to Serve Brazilian Feijoada
If you are up for a challenge, serve a feijoada completa (complete feijoada) meal.
Feijoada completa starts with fried cassava as an appetizer.
Then, the main dish, feijoada, white rice, fried plantains, farofa (fried cassava flour with bacon), and sliced oranges.
Drinks can be fresh juice, caipirinhas, or beer.
To finish up, serve some fruit compote or this simple and delicious Romeu e Julieta.
What is Feijoada Made Of?
Traditional feijoada is made with pig’s ear, feet, and snout.
For our recipe, we are using bacon, pork ribs and 2 kinds of sausages, Mexican chorizos, and linguica.
Our Feijoada Recipe
This is such a great dish for big groups. It is easy to make and very cheap.
It is very important that the beans are soaked overnight. You can very well use canned beans too.
Feijoada can also be made in a slow cooker. After sauteing the vegetables and browning the meat, add it to the slow cooker and cook on low for 10 hours.
While making farofa to serve with feijoada is an extra step, it is so worth it. I definitely recommend you serve this feijoada with farofa.
Any leftovers, I like to freeze in individual portions for easy reheating. The stew keeps well in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Brazilian Feijoada (Black Bean Stew)
- 1 pound dry black beans (soaked overnight)*
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces slab bacon (rind removed), diced
- 1 pound pork ribs, cut into individual ribs
- 2 Mexican chorizo sausages, sliced
- 1 smoked sausage, such as linguica or kielbasa, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 bay leaves
- white rice (for serving)
- farofa (for serving)
- In a large bowl with water, soak beans overnight.
- When you are ready to make your stew, in a large heavy-bottom soup pot, over medium heat, add the oil and bacon. Cook until crisp and transfer to a plate.
- Use the same saucepan to brown ribs and sausages in batches. Set aside.
- If needed, add more oil to the pan. On medium-high, sauté onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Add them to the pot along with the ribs, bacon, sausages, salt, pepper, bay leave. Cover with water (about 8 cups).
- Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and let it cook for 2 to 2 and a half hours, or until the beans are soft.
- If the stew is too liquidy, uncover the saucepan and continue to cook for another 20 minutes to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.
- Serve with white rice and sprinkle some farofa on top.