Brazil

After our 3+ week break, we finally got back into this project with Brazil.  It was a bit of a doozy to start back into the project with this country because there were SO MANY OPTIONS.  These big countries are tough; there is just so much information and variety in cuisine.  The most commonly selected dish by the other international cooking blogs I follow is a meat and bean stew called feijoada, so I went with that.  The traditional sides are cove mineira (cooked collard greens or kale), farofa (toasted manioc flour), and rice.  I planned to make all of those but had to bail on the farofa when I couldn’t find the coarse manioc flour locally (in case anyone is interested, here is the recipe I was planning to use).  I also made a simple dessert called brigadeiros, which are similar to chocolate truffles and are named after a 1920s Brazilian politician.

Feijoada (recipe)

This dish consists of a whole bunch of meat and some beans slow cooked together.  The first challenge was gathering all of the meat.  This recipe called for 1 lb corned beef, 2 lb smoked spareribs or pork chops, 3/4 lb slab of bacon, 1 1/2 lb boneless beef chuck or eye round, 1 ham hock, 1 pig’s food, and 1/4 lb chorizo.  That is a lot of meet.

We checked with multiple grocery stores, and none of them have corned beef in stock (maybe they consider it seasonal??).  I read in multiple other recipes that the corned beef is actually a substitute for a type of Brazillian dried beef called carne seca.  I did some searching on how to make your own carne seca, and it involved several days of letting salted beef dry out in the sun.  Not happening.  Since I read many comments that the more smoked meats you put in this dish the better, we decided our substitute would be to smoke a piece of beef (we went with a beef chuck cut) with some salt on it.  We let it smoke long enough to get somewhat dry, hoping that would be closer to the authentic ingredient.

We also couldn’t find pig feet (darn, how disappointing…), so instead we used the second ham hock that came in the package of two.  The only other substitution/change is that the chorizo we found didn’t have a casing, so it was cooked like ground beef as opposed to being cut in slices.

After retrieving all of the meat, we started cooking.  Most of the meat simmered in the stock pot for an hour or two.  It was a very full pot.

Feijoada_cooking_meats

 

After the meat was all cooked and tender (it took longer than the recipe recommended), it was removed from the broth and then chopped/shredded.  I set aside the broth.

Feijoada_meats   Feijoada_shredded_meats

 

Next the (pre-soaked) black beans went in the stock pot with some of the reserved broth.  I don’t have any pictures to share of this step… it didn’t look very exciting.

Next we chopped the jalapeño, scallions, and garlic.

Feijoada_veggies

They were cooked with the chorizo.  It smelled delicious.

Feijoada_veggies_chorizo_uncooked   Feijoada_chorizo_veggies

 

The beans, some broth, the bacon/ham hock meat, and eventually the rest of the meats were added and left to simmer for a little while to get to the final product.

Feijoada

 

Brazilian Style Rice (recipe)

This was pretty close to your standard white rice, except that you start by frying some garlic, onion, and the uncooked rice in oil.  The intent was to lightly brown the rice, although I can’t say that really happened with mine.  Then you add the water and cook as usual.

Brazilian_style_rice

 Couve Mineira (recipe)

This was another quick and simple.  It was my first time cooking with collard greens, and I was pretty impressed at how huge the leaves are.  I also was excited to chiffonade them (A. What a fun word! B. What a fun way to slice stuff and make cool ribbon shaped strips!).

chiffonading_collard_greens   chiffonaded_collard_greens

The chiffonaded collard greens were boiled for a couple minutes then dunked in cold water.  It took two batches because it turns out that “two large bunches” of collard greens makes a LOT of food.

Then the garlic, salt, and pepper were heated in olive oil and tossed with the collard greens.  Nice and simple.

Couve_mineira

Brigadeiros (recipe)

These also had a short ingredient list and simple cooking instructions… they just took a while.  A can of sweetened, condensed milk, butter, and cocoa powder were mixed in a small pan over medium-low heat.  This was stirred constantly for about half an hour (and by constantly I mean stirred constantly for a minute or two, left alone for a few minutes while I folded laundry, stirred for another minute or two, then left alone again as I continued folding laundry, then back to stir, etc…).  I forgot to take a picture of the final consistency, but the idea was to continue this process until it was thick enough that you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir.

Brigadeiros_1   Brigadeiros_2   Brigadeiros_3   Brigadeiros_4

 

After the heating process it was left in a buttered pan to cool.  It felt like I was making brownies.

Brigadeiros_5

 

Then the batter was rolled by into small balls and coated with chocolate sprinkles.  The tip to put some butter (I used crisco) on your hands to keep the mixture from sticking was very helpful.

Brigadeiros

 

The final meal looked surprisingly similar to Botswana from a few weeks ago.  It is traditional to serve the feijoada with orange wedges to help with digestion or something.  They also added some nice color to the plate.

Brazil_meal

 

We are loving the nice weather and enjoyed this meal on our screened-in porch. 🙂

Brazil_meal_table

 

The meal was good.  I can’t say it was a favorite, but it was good.  The feijoada had a fairly complex flavor from all of the different meats.  It was overwhelmingly meaty and heavy, though… definitely more meat than we are used to eating.  Since it made so much, we ended up freezing half, and I’m tempted to use some of those leftovers with barbecue sauce as a sandwiches.  The meat reminded me a bit of the saucy southerner sandwich from the delicious Hickory Park of Ames, IA.  I don’t know if orange really goes that well with this dish or if I just was really in the mood for oranges, but the orange wedges were delicious with the feijoada.

The rice was good, but I can’t say I noticed a big difference in texture or flavor from the standard method of boiling white rice in water.  I’m still not a big fan of cooked greens as a side, but I will say that this recipe for collard greens were better than average.  I may warm up to them by the end of this project in a few years.

The brigadeiros were quite good.  They were similar to chocolate truffles, but the filling reminded me more of brownie batter.  Very rich, so one or two was all I could eat in one sitting.  My co-workers benefitted from some of the extras. 🙂

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