Monday, April 18, 2011

Dobradinha - A Sunday Feast

I've been to pizza parties, to strawberry ice-cream socials, and even to a beaver roast, but until yesterday I'd never been to a dobradinha party. On a rainy Sunday afternoon here in Fortaleza, a friend of mine hosted just such a party for about twenty guests. The focus of the party was a traditional dish called dobradinha, and the party was in honor of a visiting friend from Rio de Janeiro whose culinary specialty just happens to be dobradinha. So even though this friend was the guest of honor, he was given the task of making the main dish. Which he did a magnificent job of, by the way.

Dobradinha is one of the meat-and-bean dishes that Brazil has inherited from its Portuguese ancestors, just like the famous Brazilian feijoada. In Portugal the dish is a specialty of the north of the country, and is the subject of a famous poem by Fernando Pessoa, "Dobrada à moda do Porto". The Portuguese call the dish dobrada, and the Brazilians, who like to add diminuitives to many words have modified that name to dobradinha, meaning little dobrada.

Dobrada is the Portuguese term for cow's stomach and the dish features exactly that ingredient. The meat portion of the dish consists of tripe (which is the gastronomic term for cow's stomach), smoked pork ribs and linguiça sausages. The beans used in dobradinha are dried white beans, what we might call Navy beans - the type from which Boston baked beans are made. The beans are either cooked in a pressure cooker or slow cooked, and the meats are added towards the end of the cooking process.

Yesterday, the guest of honor-cum-cook, whose name is Napoleão, started to cook the dobradinha about 9 am, and the dish was ready to serve around 2 pm. Dobradinha is not something you'd want to make for a quick weeknight supper!  Cleaning the tripe was the first step, and any good dobradinha cook will tell you that a proper and thorough cleaning of the stomach is the secret to a successful dish. Then the beans were cooked in a pressure cooker while the ribs and linguiça were browned. Finally all the ingredients were mixed together and the completed stew was allowed to bubble slowly on the stove for a couple of hours.

The dobradinha was served accompanied only by white rice and hot sauce for those who wished to add it to the dish. Most of the guests washed it down with plenty of beer. Most of the guests were enthusiastic dobradinha eaters, though as is often the case with organ-meat dishes, some just weren't interested in trying it - fortunately, there was an alternative dish of chicken stroganoff for those who didn't have the stomach for stomach.

I found the dobradinha a delightful variation on feijoada. The beans were creamy-soft and melted in the mouth. The tripe was cooked to a gelatinous state, but still had a bit of firmness to it, so that it didn't feel overly-mushy as can sometimes happen with tripe. It was extremely rich, and one plateful, plus a bit of rice, was very filling. I'm not normally a lover of innards, and have to confess that I approached the dobradinha with a bit of trepidation, but I'm glad I tried it. It's a dish with a long and noble history and an important part of Brazilian food culture - and that's what Flavors of Brazil is all about.
Tripe and linguiça sausage
Pot of dobradinha
Dobradinha for 20
The chef - Napoleão

On Wednesday, I'll provide a typical recipe for dobradinha.

2 comments:

  1. This sounds great! I am not a brave eater of organs either, but dobradinha is an exception!

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  2. Thanks for the method which I tried in a modified form today, with mixed results. Although my wife is from Bahia (next state to MG) she was unable to say whether I made an authentic Dob or not.
    I used 1.3kg tripe, 3/4 loop of chorzo, 180g lardons, 500g beans, 4 toms, 1.5 peppers, 2/3 bulb or garlic, 2 small onions, 4 bay leaves, paprika.
    The result was a little bland. This recipe would, IMO, benefit from quite a lot of salt, a whole lot of garlic, and a bit more spice (hot chilli?). Also, I used too many beans. More veg and fewer beans next time. I'll make it again and see how I can improve it.
    BTW I have no truck for people who are squeamish about offal. Corned beef tasted so much like ox-tongue with corn added that I think that is exactly what it is (and why not?), and consider that your burgers, meat balls and sausages are made up entirely of lips and arseholes: so a cow's stomach - why not?
    Pete. England.

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