If you saw the picture inside my Brasilian passport, you'd think I'd bought it from the same guy who sells "Guchi" purses and "Rolax" watches on the corner. I don't look Brasilian, my name isn't Brasilian, I was born in the states...but call me a gaucha.
Since my mom was born in Porto Alegre, the Brasilian government considers me a long lost daughter, a gaucha on permanent leave from her true nation.
Even though I can count the times I've visited Brasil on one hand, I've used that same hand about a thousand times eating Mom's feijoada. Considered the national dish of Brasil, it's probably the national dish of Mom's household, too. We ate it about every other week when I was growing up and every family reunion includes at least one steaming, savory bowl of this tasty black bean concoction.
The real deal is made by slow cooking black beans with garlic, salt, and the parts of the pig that nobody else would buy. Yum, yum, huh?
While catering a recent board meeting, I pushed the limits of the "box lunch" mentality with a crock pot. To keep the same sentiments of the traditional feijoada (soft beans coated in lovely, fatty, beefy, thick juices) and still meet my strict time constraints, I left out the ears and tail but was sure to include all the bacon drippings (no vegetarians voiced their convictions during this meeting...).
Hoosier Gaucha's Quick Feijoada (enough to feed a board room)
Lightly saute 12-15 slices of bacon. Remove all the bacon from the pan and saute a large, sweet onion (roughly chopped) and half a bulb of garlic in all the drippings - scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the good stuff stuck there.
When the onions are soft, add the sauted bacon and a ring of roughly chopped kilbasa or sausage. Add one or two cans of pre-cooked black beans, a bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Let everthing simmer together until the flavors are intense and well blended.
In another pan, heat 5-6 cans of pre-cooked black beans, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Mix everything together in a big bowl and carefully transporte it to the board room. Don't forget the following accompaniments on your way out the door...
***12-15 servings sturdy brown rice - make it with a combination of beef stock and water
***7-8 oranges, peeled then sliced - this is a traditional side dish (as are farofa - kinda like greasy saw dust - and a bacon-flavored cabbage dish)
***pico di gallo - a simple mix of chopped fresh tomatoes with a little red onion, hot pepper, and salt (though not a traditional condiment, my Brasilian uncle started topping his feijoada this way years and years ago - since then the family hasn't sat down to table without it)
***banio maria - this traditionally Brasilian carmel flan is actually called a "pudim" in portuguese, but family tradition named it after the banio maria, the double boiler used to make this rich, smooth dessert - it's the perfect sweet treat before going back to the board meeting agenda
Remember to put the cachaca in the freezer before you leave - a caipirinha on a warm summer night is certainly the way to unwind after a day in the board room (have two and you might become fluent in portuguese...but won't remember a word the next morning).