Cheers To Saving $40--Plus Feijoada, The National Dish Of Brazil

The "city of love and mysteries" as Antonio Carlos Jobim sang, will host the 2016 Olympic Games. The gorgeous scenery of Rio de Janeiro will bring our flat panels to life with the lush green of Corcovado, the azure blue of the bay and the sensuous color and movement of Brazilian samba. Years ago, I captured the sounds of Brazil on tape: the soft patter of rain on the roof in the pretty fishing village of Buzios, brightly painted fishing boats bobbing in the harbor; the melodic sound of Portuguese weaving through the bustle of a marketplace; Caetano Veloso's melodic jazz on the car radio as we drove through verdant hills of papaya and palm; the jungle sounds of parrots and the buzzing and chirping of innumerable insects. The sounds evoke the aromas of Brazil--fertile, lush to the nose with the scents of tropical flowers, wet earth, sweat, and humid air redolent of cooking spices like cumin and clove. I used to have a brother in law who rode his bike from Sao Paolo, through Central America and Mexico, to California. Before we went to meet his family and see his hometown, I read every Brazilian book I could find, like Jorge Amado's mesmerizing novels of sensuous women and the working men who loved them, set in the frontier towns of the Recife and Ilheus where jungle was chopped and natives slaughtered to make way for prosperous plantations, and his vivid descriptions of local cuisine like vatapa (mashed shrimp, bread and coconut milk). I was a meat eater then and enjoyed the churrasco: skewers of grilled meat, and the fish and pork stews complex with spices, plus the first tuna pizzas I'd ever seen (this was way before Wolfgang Puck!). Brazil is the largest country in South America; the fifth largest in the world. Its native population has seen the influx of many immigrants--the Portuguese colonists, African slaves, Italians, Germans, Syrians, Lebanese, and Japanese. The beautiful contemporary Brazilians come in every shade of skin color and Brazilian food is as varied, too much to cover in a few paragraphs! But, I dug out some this recipes from when I had Brazilian family. Enjoy!
Brazil's national dish! You can make it with traditional meat ingredients, or with the adapted ingredients for the American kitchen.
Adapted Ingredients:
1 lb. smoked ham, cubed
1/2 lb. pork or beef ribs
1/2 lb. lean pork roast
1/2 lb. lean beef roast
1 lb. Mexican chorizo, sliced
Traditional meats:

1/2 lb. of each: salt-cured pork foot, ear, tongue and tail
1/2 lb. carne seca (dried beef)
1 lb. linguica sausage, sliced
1 lb. dry black beans
6 strips of smoked bacon
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
salt to taste
black pepper
hot sauce (like Tabasco)
6 oranges: one for juice
How to prepare authentic feijoada meats:
Wash the salted pork parts (not the linguica) carefully and cut off excess fat. Soak in water with the dried beef for 24 hours, changing the water four times during this period. Then bring the water to a boil, pour the water out and fill the pot again and reboil. Repeat this so you have boiled the meat three times (this removes excess fat and saltiness plus tenderizes the meat). Take the meat out of the water and set aside.
For BOTH authentic and adapted recipes:
Soak the black beans in 2 quarts of water overnight in a separate pot. Then, put the pot on low heat and simmer for 4-5 hours (add water, if necessary, to keep the beans covered). In a Dutch oven, fry the bacon then pour out the grease. Chop up the bacon and set aside. Add olive oil to the Dutch oven and cook the onion, garlic and cumin in the pan for two or three minutes. Add sausage and cook another 3 minutes, stirring. Add the rest of the meat, bacon, and beans with 1 quart of the cooking liquid the beans were in (add water if not sufficient and save any extra cooking liquid for use later if you need it), vinegar, hot sauce and the juice of one orange. Bring to a boil, stirring, then turn the heat to low and put the cover on slightly ajar (so there is a 1/2" gap) and cook for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. You may have to add some water (or the leftover bean cooking water)--so the stew has some sauciness but not is not thin. If the soup is too thin, put 1/2 cup of beans in a small bowl with some of the broth and mash into a paste, then stir the mashed bean into the stew to thicken the sauce. Separate the meat from the bones and cut into bite-sized pieces; put it back in the stew. Add salt to taste, if necessary. Serve over white rice and orange slices, with the Molho A Campanha on the side. Traditionally served with farinha de mandioca (flour made from cassava) which is a bit tart and nutty. Serves 10-12.

1 large onion, minced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 hot pepper, minced (malagueta pepper if you can get one)
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
Mix well. If the vinegar taste is too strong, add a little of the cooking liquid from the beans. Wine pairing for this recipe: the 2007 Carmichael "Sur le Pont" Syrah.

This week's Onlne Grapevine wine discount special can save you $40!

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