Feijoada – the National Dish of Brazil

Feijoada is considered to be the national dish of Brazil. I tasted it for the first time a few years ago when I made my first trip to South America. Our hotel in Manaus, Brazil, served it on their midday Brazilian buffet, and I’ve been in love with it ever since.

Feijoada is a slow-cooked stew featuring black beans and various salted and smoked pork pieces. More often than not the pork cuts are those considered to be peasant food throughout the world. Pieces like feet, neck bones, ears, snout and hocks are just a few of the delicious cuts of pork that can grace a feijoada pot.

feijoada

Feijoada traditionally uses lesser cuts of cured pork such as ears, feet, tails and snout. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

History of Feijoada

About the only thing food historians agree on regarding the history of feijoada is that the dish is steeped in Portuguese and Brazilian history. The stories of feijoada’s origin range from it being a peasant food of Brazilian slaves to a preferred food of Portuguese royalty. França Júnior, a historian in the late 1800s, proclaimed that feijoada was not just a dish … it was a feast.

I would be inclined to call feijoada a feast as well. Because due to the number and variety of meat cuts included in the preparation, it’s impossible to make a good feijoada for less than a dozen diners. And although the dish is not difficult to prepare, it does take a lot of time, so plan ahead and start early.

feijoada

Feijoada is typically served with rice, greens, toasted manioc and orange slices. Image credit: Ines Saraiva

Tips when making feijoada:

• If you have difficulty finding the traditional meats, try an international or Asian market.
• For a good balance between smoky and gamey, make sure to get a good mix of both salted and smoked meats.
• Smoked sausage is a must when making feijoada, but other meats in a recipe can be substituted without harm to the dish.

If you’d like to try your hand at making this dish at home, here is a good traditional feijoada recipe that is easy to understand and follow.