Portuguese Bean Stew

It is funny to realize that the expression "comfort food" can have such a different meaning all over the world. In many cases it is usually connected with the geography of where one was brought up, mingled with tradition and typical ingredients. As much as you want to add flavours to that secluded (and quite elitist) corner, there are moments when you just have to go back and taste one of the dishes that were "safe" since childhood. Today I look back at the ever present Feijoada (bean stew).
There are several different dishes with beans in Portuguese cuisine, and each and every cook has hers/his own way of cooking them, so here is a basic recipe of Portuguese bean stew made, well... Rita's style. As a side dish I made Portuguese white rice, which is a very tasty fried/steamed rice recipe that you can find below.

Feijoada (Portuguese Bean Stew)

It may serve 3


_ 2 tbs of virgin olive oil
_ 1 onion (medium)
_ 2 cloves of garlic
_ rock salt (can be replaced by any salt)
_ 1 bay leaf
_ 1 piripiri (Portuguese chili, quite spicy, can be replaced by chili powder)
_ 1 teaspoon of Pimentao doce (sundried red pepper powder, the portuguese paprika, sweeter then the Hungarian, optional)
_ 2 tbs tomato puree
_ 1/4 chorizo (Portuguese would be ideal, but Spanish will do perfectly)
_ 1/4 green cabbage (optional, really good with savoy)
_ 2 tins of red beans
_ 1 carrot
_ eggs (1 per person)
_ warm water (water that boiled the beans if you used dry beans)


Heat the olive oil on a medium size pan, add the bay leaf and the piripiri (break it in half if you are brave enough), let it heat a bit. Add the onion previously diced and stir, peel the garlic, chop it and add to the pan. When the onion starts to become transparent add the chorizo (chopped in 1 cm slices) and Pimentao Doce, stir and let fry a bit.
Add the cabbage stir and when nice and transparent, add the tomato puree and let sit on low heat for a while (you may need to add a bit of water if it is too dry).
Add the beans and cover with water, stir, take the chorizo pieces out, season and let cook in low heat for at least 1 hour (2 ideal), adding water when needed.
When half the time is gone add the carrot chopped in 1 cm round pieces and when there is a quarter left the end of the time add the chorizo.
The secret of any good bean dish is not only the slow and long cooking, but also (and very essential) a sitting time WITHOUT cooking that has to exist between the preparation of the meal and the re-heating for serving.
So after all the cooking is done, just let it seat for as much time as you can and then re-heat it, it should hit the plate piping hot, on a pile of lovely rice. Poach an egg per person and try to balance that on the top of the plate. It really doesn't have to look like the Everest, unless you are indeed very hungry.

Feijoada is said to taste even better the day after it was made, so if you have leftovers...lucky you.

Portuguese white rice

It may serve 2


_ 1 small onion
_ 1 tbs virgin olive oil
_ 1/2 bay leaf (optional)
_ dash of rock salt
_ 1 cup of Portuguese rice (get it at a Portuguese shop, the kind you're after is called carolino, basically the same as paella Spanish rice, so you can use that to replace it)
_ 1 1/2 cups of water (if you are using an electric appliance, 2 if using gas)


Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion and the bay leaf, let it fry at medium heat. When nice and slightly on the "well done" side, add the rice and fry it, stirring gently until all the rice turns transparent. Add the water, season and turn the heat to high, wait until is boiling hard for a bit, switch the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Can't say an exact time for this, depends a bit on if you are using a gas or electric appliance, anyway, something between 10 to 20 minutes (after covering with lid). Yes, my cooking has suffered a bit with the change from gas to electric, but I'm managing.

Here it is in all its magnificence, just before adding the carrots.

And there you go, my take on a Portuguese staple, a comfort food good all year round, but especially lovely in the colder seasons.
Diet...? Diet who?


Jayne said...

This sounds great! You have a lovely blog, you and Autumn, and I know I will be back to visit. Can I ask one question? How is Feijoada pronounced? Thanks!

rita said...

Hi Jayne, nice of you to drop by! Of course you can ask, and after some careful consideration and a brief consultation with Autumn (because I would be lost trying to translate to English language the phonetics of my mother language), here it is:

Feijoada = fay-joo-ah-duh

Thank you for the question, it was a very helpful hint!