Julie Van Rosendaal's recipe for Brazilian feijoada

The Calgary Eyeopener's food expert Julie Van Rosendaal shares her recipe for Brazilian feijoada, a type of rich, savoury black bean stew.

Delicious Brazilian black bean stew will keep you warm on a cold day

You can pick and choose any type of meat to make a feijoada — the flavourful, inexpensive cuts often work best. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

If you're looking for a different kind of winter comfort food to help beat the cold — a change from regular old soups or stews — why not try making a flavourful pot of feijoada tonight?

Feijoada is a type of rich, meaty black bean stew that's popular in Brazil and other Portugese-speaking countries. It's most commonly made with a variety of meats, and inexpensive cuts often work best. 

  • 2 cups dried black beans
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a few bay leaves
  • olive or vegetable oil, for cooking
  • a chunk (about 1 lb) pork shoulder
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 smoked pork hock
  • 2 fresh chorizo sausages
  • 2 small tomatoes (or a handful of cherry tomatoes — optional)
  • a squeeze of lime juice
  • fresh cilantro (optional)
  • steamed rice and orange wedges, for serving

Put the beans into a small pot and add enough water to cover by a couple inches. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let them sit while you get the meat started. Add a garlic clove and a couple bay leaves to the pot.

Set a medium pot (a heavy enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven works) over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil and brown any long-simmering meat you have, like pork shoulder, ribs. You can even brown your fresh sausages at this point. Transfer them to a plate (slice the sausages into chunks) and add the onion, carrot and celery to the pot; cook for a few minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. 

At this point, if you want to transfer everything to the bowl of a slow cooker, do it, draining the beans and adding them as well, along with just enough water (or stock) to cover. Add a couple more bay leaves, cover and cook on low for eight hours. Otherwise return the meat to the pot, drain and add the beans, add the tomatoes and enough water (or stock) to barely cover everything, and cook over low heat for about three hours, until all the meat is very tender and the sauce has thickened. (Check often to ensure the liquid isn't cooking off.)

Add a squeeze of lime and season with salt and pepper, if it needs it — this will depend on the salted and cured meats that are already in there.

If you like, let the stew cool so that you can pull out any bones and other bits you don't want in there — the flavour will also improve if it's refrigerated overnight. Serve topped with fresh cilantro (if you like), on steamed rice (if you like), with orange wedges. Serves six or more.

With files from Julie Van Rosendaal and the Calgary Eyeopener