To me, a full plate of arroz e feijão (rice and beans) is more Brazilian than carnaval and futebol… since you know, all I care about is food. Anyway, we already talked about rice here, so today is all about feijão. And the first thing you need to know is, depending on where you are in Brazil the preference for color/type of beans will vary, but its importance at the center of the Brazilian table is the same across all regions.
How often do you eat beans? Which type is your favorite?
And, if you didn’t know, now you do – feijão is at the very center of Brazilian cuisine. Yes, beans of all sorts! There a number of traditional regional dishes with some kind of feijão as the star of the dish, and you may have even heard of some of them: tutu de feijão, acarajé, baião de dois, feijoada, and so many others. But when it comes to the basics and the day to day of the average Brazilian, for the most part, the feijão Carioca (or Pinto bean) is the most consumed – and you know what!? You should register to the blog right now if you haven’t yet, so you don’t miss out when I post more bean recipes, and talk a little more about other types of beans!!! Just sayiiiiin’
Anyway, although the Pinto is the most consumed feijão in Brazil, in Rio, where I’m from, the star bean is the Feijão Preto (black beans). My mom, as most Brazilians, would make a big batch of beans that would last our family several meals. Growing up, we ate some combination of arroz com feijão pretty much every day… with chicken, with fries and a steak, with an egg, with plantains, with farofa… I have so many memories of coming home from school and hearing the sound of the pressure cooker, and smelling the the garlic and onions frying with bacon. There is no better smell. There just isn’t. To me, that is the true smell of a Brazilian home, at least, of my home.
When you make this recipe, and start to hear the sounds and smell the smells, I hope you feel as happy as I felt when I was a kid coming home from school, starving, and ready to dive in!
So, yes, the opportunities are endless when it comes to feijão and there is so much to love (and talk about!) in this inexpensive, super nutritional and convenient legume. If you like beans as much as I do, you should definitely register to the blog right now, so you can learn other ways to prepare bean dishes (and loads of other stuff) as soon as I post them! Weeeeeee
Do all your prep while the beans are soaking to make better use of your time. And while the beans are cooking, make some rice to have Brazil’s most traditional meal combo!!
Let’s Make Beans!!!!
Now listen up, I get it that when you look at the steps here, you might feel a little overwhelmed, and might think, “uhhh… the hell with this, let me just open this can real quick”. Don’t do thaaaaat! This just feels like a lot of work, but the secret here is task allocation and time management. What I mean is, you will be soaking beans for about an hour… sooooo use the time while they are soaking to do the rest of your prep. Seriously, give this a shot and you will forever thank me!
Oookk… so, first you need to “pick” the beans, meaning, you need to pick out all the weird ones (like that pale little fella in the pic below), and the occasional rock or two you might come across….
Then give them a nice rinse
Then soak the beans for about 30 mins in cold water (to you know… de-fart them…. although… you will probably fart anyway, so just accept that)… Anyway, you will notice that some beans will float to the top of the water when you soak them… you should also pick them out, as they are ‘weird’ ones (like these little ones in the pic below) that you missed picking before
After about 30 mins, change the water (as in dump all that water out, then cover it again with new cold water), and soak for another 30 mins
Meanwhile, (just like we planned remember? 😉 ) while the beans are soaking, do your prep
Chunk up the sausage…
Dice up the bacon…
Dice the onions, mince the garlic, gather your spices…
By the way… you’re doing great so far!! See how easy this is!!! (But don’t get cocky just yet tho… we still have work to do, so let’s get back to it…)
When the beans are all done soaking, remove all the water and add the beans and the sausages to a pressure cooker
Cover with water (approximately 2-3 inches over the beans and sausage – like in the image below), seal the pressure cooker and cook to high pressure (on medium to high heat until the pan starts to release steam)
When the pan starts to release steam, reduce the heat to medium and let it continue to cook for another 30 minutes
Turn off the heat and release pressure and let all the steam come out safely, until you can safely open the pressure cooker (Please note: Pressure cookers can be dangerous, especially if there isn’t enough water left inside of the pan – they can explode! Always keep a close eye on the pan, and when in doubt STOP and check. Please use your pressure cooker with caution, and follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions!) This is serious, but don’t let it intimidate you, k? I started using a pressure cooker when I was a teenager, and was absolutely frightened!! But, I got used to it because I kept using it.
So, go ahead, and safely open the pan when you are able
Scoop some of the beans into a bowl
and check to make sure the beans are soft and fully cooked – like this!
If the beans aren’t soft yet, make sure you have enough water in the pan, and cover again and return to the heat. When it gets to high pressure again, let it cook for another 15 minutes and check one more time.
When the beans are fully cooked, return the now uncovered pressure cooker to the stove. Season with salt and pepper, add the cumin, the vinegar, and the bay leaf to the pan, stir and let the beans simmer over low to medium heat – now we want to cook low and slow until the liquid thickens a little
Meanwhile, add the bacon to a large skillet over medium to high heat, and let them cook until lightly browned
Add the olive oil to the skilled, then the onions and sautée until transparent, 2-3 mins
Add the garlic to the skillet, stir and sautée until fragrant and lightly golden (careful not to burn)
Add the contents of the skillet to the beans, stir and let it simmer until the beans reach the desired thickness
See how the liquid has thickened, compared to when we first checked for done-ness (is that a word…??!)
Well, great!! There you go, then! You just made beans!!!!! Ta-daaaaaaa!!!