Lazybones Feijoada Com Arroz: Brazilian Black Beans with Rice

I have come to terms with my almost unholy infatuation with rice and beans.  Perhaps it’s because of my affection for simple and honest (read: affordable and easy) peasant food, but rice and beans are a staple in so many regions of the world, and with good reason!  Rice and beans are a balanced meal with protein and carbohydrates, affordable and shelf stable for long storage and consumption in lean times, and deliciously variable in terms of texture, taste and nuance.  So often we see rice and beans as a side to a flavorful main, a misunderstood dish which is frequently discarded as boring or banal or – even worse – the cheap filler to your meal, but not in Brazil.  Oh no, my friends.  In Brazil, the bean reigns supreme!  Well, next to the beef of course.  And maybe the pork.  And chicken. But hey, legumes still rank.

The Brazilian dish “feijoada”, comprised mostly of black turtle beans stewed with a variety of flavorful fresh, dried and cured meats, is fundamentally the unofficial national dish of Brazil.  The story goes that the feijoada was a specialty of African slaves on the Brazilian colonial farms, and only made for celebratory events.  Because this population did not have access to the thick grilled meats that Brazil is famous for, they would make do with leftovers and scraps from the kitchen like bits of salt pork or sun dried beef.  Another school of thought is that feijoada was a Brazilian twist on traditional European staple dishes like the French “cassoulet” or Portuguese “cozidos”.  Both are peasant dishes by the way, and both have a special place in my heart and the pork’n’beans section of my stomach.

The point is, a dish as delicious as feijoada is unlikely to stay under wraps.  Before very long the feijoada was simmering through most of the households of the lower income populace, eventually making it’s way into the middle class as a staple meal, and increasing in popularity until it could be found on menus of even the finest restaurants.  I’m telling you, peasant food is the cat’s meow, a culture’s piece de resistance, and the reason that international travel is so doggone fun.

I know, I know.  All you want is pork and beans, but instead I’m giving you a history lesson.  That’ just how I roll.

Now then, I don’t want to delude you by calling this a lazybones dish.  To me, this IS a lazybones version of feijoada, coming together with little effort and only a bit of time.  However, that little effort and bit of time will still amount to 45 minutes or so, which might not seem so lazy to some people.  At times like this though, I urge you to think about the traditional method versus the Tina method for this dish.  Traditional feijoada is complex and delicious with rich, meaty flavors and just a bare hint of spice.  Oh, and I should also mention that it is a 15-20 hour process.  Yeah, so there’s that.  I’m trying to help you guys, I really am, so I’ve condensed feijoada to about 45 minutes from the time that you first start slicing the bacon until the dish is served, but without losing that intrinsic flavor that makes feijoada so magic.

If you have the luxury of time (insert jealous sigh….) you can make a few tweaks and changes.  For example, the beans should be dry and they should be soaked overnight.  The next morning, bring to a boil a big pot about halfway full of water with half an onion, a few cloves of garlic, some bay leaf, and a handful of meat products including salt pork, beef jerky, pork ribs, pork trimmings (yes, I mean the dried ears and tail.  No jokes), smoked sausage, smoked ham hock or pork loin, and maybe a bit of tongue just for kicks .  While the beans simmer for about 6 hours you can saute down some garlic and onion with herbs and spices and then add that to the pot.  When the stew has thickened into a purplish black maw of flavor, remove the meat parts, cut them into parts and serve them on the side of the feijoada.

Or….you know……..cook it all together and don’t make your family wait a day to get fed.  Either way, the results are the same: Brazilian DELICIOUSNESS.

Lazybones Feijoada Com Arroz:  Brazilian Black Beans with Rice

Serves 4 as a meal, 6 as the main side dishes with an entree or meat

Lazybones Feijoada (Black Beans)

  • 2 cans (19 oz each) black turtle beans *
  • 3 small links (200 g/7 oz) Spanish cured chorizo sausage **
  • 8 thick slices (225 g/half pound) smoky bacon
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 fat cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1.25 cups beef stock (or water for a lighter flavor)
  • small handful (1/4 cup finely chopped) parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garlicky Brazilian White Rice

  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 minced white onion (~ 1/3 cup)
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3.75 cups water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)

* If you cannot find black turtle beans, regular canned black beans will be fine.

** Chorizo sausage comes in either a dry cured or fresh form. For this recipe, use the dry cured.  If you can’t find the moderately spiced Spanish chorizo, Portuguese sweet chorizo (which is only mildly spicy), would be a good substitute.

Dice the bacon and slice the chorizo links into discs that are rather thin and about 1/8″  wide.

In a large heavy bottomed skillet, heat the bacon over medium heat.  Stir the bacon fairly frequently as it starts to heat through so that it can begin to render the fat without the meat sticking or burning.  When the bacon is partially cooked and a fair bit has rendered (enough to just coat the bottom of your frying pan) add the sliced chorizo.  Let the bacon and chorizo cook together for 5 minutes, or until the chorizo is starting to firm up and crisp.

Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic.  Stir this into the bacon mixture and start to sauté.

After about 7 minutes the onion should be soft and golden (the color will be in part due to the chorizo, but no matter). Drain the two cans of beans and rinse them well under cold running water.  Add the oregano, cumin and bay leaf.  Let this cook together for just a minute or two before adding in the beef stock (or water). Turn the heat down slightly to medium low.

You want the beans to cook, uncovered, for about 25 minutes or until much of the water has been absorbed and some of the beans have started to break down and form a thick sauce.  Stir them occasionally and don’t forget that they’re there, but in the mean time you can start on that deliciously buttery, garlicky Brazilian rice.

Finely mince the onion and garlic.  Pour the oil into a medium sized pot and swirl so that it coats the base.  Add in the butter, onion and garlic before setting the pot over medium heat.

Stir fairly frequently so that the garlic does not brown or burn, and cook the mixture for about 5-8 minutes (depending on how long it takes your pot to heat) or until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

While the onions cook down, rinse the rice under several changes of cold running water until the water drains clear.  Leave the rice aside in a colander or sieve to drain.

Add the rinsed rice to the pot and stir it into the butter and garlic.  Add the Bay leaf as well, while you’re at it.  Let the rice cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly, until the grains are separate and starting to turn translucent around the edges.

Crank the heat under the pot up to high.  Pour in the water and sprinkle in the salt.  Stirring occasionally so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn, bring the mixture up to a boil.  As soon as the water is at a rolling boil, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and turn the heat down to minimum.  Let the rice steam, undisturbed (DON’T remove the lid!) for 18-20 minutes.

When the rice has steamed it will have absorbed all of the water and you should see some steam-holes scattered throughout.  After taking the rice off the heat, gently fluff it rice with a fork and set it aside with the cover on to rest while you finish the beans.

Finely chop the parsley and stir it into the beans, which should be fairly thick at this point.  If they’re not, you can turn the heat up to encourage them to cook down sooner rather than later, but be sure to continue stirring fairly frequently if you do.  The texture should be somewhat like a thick stew, but not too loose or soupy.  As a basis of comparison, think thicker than bean stew but much thinner than refried beans.

Let the beans continue to cook with the parsley for another 5 minutes and then season to taste with salt and pepper.

True home-cooked feijoada, made with dry black beans and simmered for hours with piggy parts, has a deliciously purplish black thick broth.  The color on these will not be as intense, somewhat lighter and more murky than bold, but the flavor is comparable and that’s really what counts.

Serve the stewed beans on top of a mound of garlicky rice.  An extra sprinkling of fresh parsley is really just there to show off, but what the heck.

If you wanted to round out the meal, you could serve the feijoada and rice with stewed collard greens (couve mineira), fried plantain , boiled cassava, or simply some sliced orange on the side for a sweet fresh citrus flavor to cut through the rich and porky beans.

For our meal, we said TO HELL with the Food Guide’s recommendations, and served the feijoada with rare grilled beef slathered with bright chimichurri sauce, and fresh marinated radish salad.  Even as a lazybones short-cut version of the delicious Brazilian specialty, it was positively divine.

I’m telling you folks, rice and beans; they’re where the party is at.

Update: The title of this post was previously “Feijoada Con Arroz”, but a kindly reader pointed out that con is Spanish, and com is the Portuguese equivalent.  As this lovely lady happened to hail from Rio de Janiero, I figured that we’d best be trusting in her expertise.  Let’s be honest with each other though.  You’ve seen how I butcher the English language, my mother tongue.  Trusting me with accurate multilingual translations is just a supreme lapse of judgment all around.  Thanks again for the tip Valeria!

  • Kristie

    This looks delicious, though I could do without the dried pig’s tail… Anyway, if I could mail you some of my free time, dear Tina, I certainly would. I’m drowning in it and bored off of my tits. I could simmer some beans just to watch them slowly inflate with hot water.

    Or I could grow a pig’s tail. Like Dudley Dursley in Harry Potter. Actually, I could reread the series in the 20 hours that I’m waiting for ambitious-bones feijoada.

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  • Beth

    Tina, I made this for dinner last night and OH MY GOD. It is so so good. Seriously, amazing. I thoroughly impressed my dinner guest and I cannot wait to eat the (very few) leftovers for lunch. I’ve also earned mad props from my Brazilian coworker.


    • Tina

      Beth – that’s FABULOUS, and we’re absolutely delighted that you were pleased with this dish! Seriously, in terms of getting my Pork And Beans On Steroids fix, this ranks right up there with cassoulet in my book.

      Thanks for letting us know, and we’re so glad that your dinner was a success!

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  • Niki

    Oh wow, this looks great. I make a curried lentil dish over rice my boys ask for seconds and thirds. Sometimes I throw in bastardized tandoori chicken, otherwise everyone is fine with the lentil dish. I’m thinking the same thing will happen with this dish in my household.

    • Niki

      replying to myself. I made a bastardized version of this last night (didn’t have bacon, oregano or parsley). it still rocked and the leftovers today were awesome. I can only imagine what it’d taste like with all the proper ingredients.

  • Michelle

    hmmm, i’m going to have to try this. I’m sure my bf will be forever grateful, as the garlic, beans and rice-loving human trashcan that he is.

    I feel morally obligated to tell you that you need to try a Salvadoran dish called casamiento. It’s basically black beans and rice mixed together and then FRIED until delicately crispy. i can’t find a recipe online, but I’ve had it at a Salvadoran restaurant, which my Salvadoran friend counts as authentic. It’s delicious and amazing!

  • Cathy

    Any advice of making this with dry beans? I happen to have a bunch on hand. I just don’t know how much of the ingredients I should put in with the beans before I simmer then for hours. Should I put everything in? (I will soak them overnight first)

    Thanks for any suggestions!!

    • Tina

      Hi Cathy,

      You can definitely use dried beans but change up your technique a little bit. If you wanted to make it easy on yourself (and you had enough time), I would soak and simmer the beans until tender and then carry on with this recipe. On the other hand, if you really want the flavors to infuse into the beans (which I think you’re going for) and you’re okay with liquid negotiation, you could go forward with this recipe until the onions are golden and then add the soaked beans to the pot along with beef stock and top up with enough water that the beans can simmer for 1.5 – 2 h. I might remove the chorizo before adding the stock and water, bringing it back only for the last 20 minutes or so, because although the chorizo imparts great flavor to the broth and beans, it would be a shame to have tasteless spongy sausage because it let go of all its seasoning. Oh and….I would also add a ham hock. To me, a pot of simmering beans is always just asking for a ham hock.

      Okay, so now I’m thinking…..if you have dried beans and you’re going to go to the trouble of soaking and simmering them anyway (by the way – kudos. Dried beans are always superior to canned), why not go head first into this and make a REAL feijoada instead of a lazybones one? There are a million recipes out there for feijoada, but:

      I like this one if you have limited access to ingredients:

      This one if you really want the full carnivore experience:

      Finally, this one if you have a whole day to kill on 16 steps….AND then you can smugly tell people that you cooked a pig’s foot for dinner.

      Take care and thanks for the comment!

  • brad

    Great recipe!

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  • Gringinha

    The whole point is that the traditional feijoada is time consuming! We all know this isn’t how feijoada is made, but we want some, and unfortunately our lives are often to busy to make the real thing.