Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew)

One of my favourite Brazilian dishes is their national dish, the feijoada - a hearty black bean stew with beef and pork. The word feijoada stems from feijão (Portuguese meaning 'beans') and is actually a dish of Portuguese colonial origin; you will find variations of the same dish in former Portuguese colonies in other parts of the world. Traditionally, the feijoada is made with poorer cuts of meat (pork ear, tail, and/or beef tongue) but nowadays, it is made with an array of quality fresh, salted and smoked pork and beef products - no longer a 'poor man's dish'!

I was first introduced to feijoada by my friends Andrew and Rose when I was living in Wellington. Andrew had lived in Brazil for several years and it was there that he met his Brazilian wife Rose. Feijoada is a dish made for sharing and was normally served during winter - friends would gather round at their home on a Sunday afternoon, chipping in by bringing along bits of the ingredients that make up the dish and help out with the cooking. As it takes a couple of hours for the dish to stew, we would have a few caipirinhas and snacks including pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) before the main course. Most of us would have at least two servings of the feijoada - oh yeah, it was GOOD.

After pestering Andrew for quite some time for the recipe, he has finally posted it up on his blog baldwhiteguy.co.nz - yes! With spare time up my sleeves, I decided to recreate the complete dish today - feijoada served with garlic rice, couve (collard greens), farofa (toasted manioc flour) and slices of orange - just like how we used to have it. The recipe is quite long and takes awhile to get all the ingredients together before cooking but your efforts will pay off at the end, rewarded with a delicious belly-warming stew. Crank up the stereo to some samba tunes while you labour away in the kitchen!

Feijoada with rice, couve, farofa and orange

Feijoada - Brazilian Black Bean Stew (adapted from Andrew's recipe)

Prep time: overnight soaking of beans + 30-45 mins
Cook time: 2 hours 30 mins

Serves 6-8

500g black beans
500g various pork-based sausages and chorizos
2 bacon rashers, diced
500g corned beef, cubed
2 bay leaves
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

(day before) Rinse the beans in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with enough water to completely cover the beans and leave to soak overnight in fridge.

1. Heat up the oil in a large stock pot. Add in onion and garlic, sauté till soften.
2. Add in meats and fry for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add in bay leaves and beans. Mix all the ingredients then fill pot with enough water to cover and simmer on low flame for 1 hour with lid on.
4. Prepare ingredients for rice, couve and farofa (see below).
5. Remove sausages and chorizo from pot. Cut them into bite-size pieces and return to pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer on low flame with lid on for another hour, periodically giving the stew a stir.
6. Cook the following in this order: farofa, rice, couve.
7. For a creamier feijoada, take ¼ - ½ cup of beans from the pot and blend till smooth. Return bean mixture to pot and stir it in.
8. Serve feijoada with warm rice and couve, farofa and slices of orange. Garnish with some parsley.

1 tablespoon butter
½ medium-sized onion, finely chopped
250g farinha de mandioca (manioc/cassava flour)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in a pan. Sauté onion till soft.
2. Gradually add in the farinha de mandioca, mixing it in as you go. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

½ medium-sized onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cup uncooked rice, washed
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups hot water

1. Heat the oil in a medium pot or saucepan. Add onion and garlic, sauté till soften.
2. Add in rice and salt, stir fry rice for 1 minute. 
3. Add hot water and cook rice on low flame lid on for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

2 large bunch collard greens, stem removed and leaves sliced into thin strips
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

1. Heat up oil in a pan. Sauté garlic till fragrant.
2. Add in collard greens and sauté till colour turns bright green or starts to soften. Add salt to taste. Serve warm.

Andrew's version of the feijoada uses corned beef in replacement of carne seca (salted cured beef) which is more commonly available in Brazil. You can tweak the recipe to include your favourite bits of beef and pork products staying heavier on the pork side, and if you're feeling a bit more adventurous, throw in some salted pork trimmings and/or jerked beef. Farinha de mandioca can be purchased at Brazilian specialty stores though I was happily surprised to find it for sale at my local suburban deli. Collard can be replaced with other Asian greens - I've used choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage) this time and bok choy in previous attempts and both works just as well. Make the complete feijoada or keep it simple and have just the stew with rice. 

Feijoada is a quintessential comfort food for a cold winter's day. After feasting on such a rich and heavy meal, I think I'm quite ready for that afternoon siesta...


  1. Brazilian Beef Stew seems great!!! I love to taste it so soon. Hope I can cooked it exactly as what you've written.

    1. Though the recipe looks really long, this dish is fairly easy to make - just requires a bit of patience prepping the ingredients and wait for it to cook :)

  2. One of my favourite Brazilian dishes is also their national dish, the feijoada - a hearty black bean stew with beef and pork. We are just alike.. Hope you are also a traveler like me.

    1. I LOVE to travel - Brazil is definitely on my list of places to visit!


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