Saturday, February 18, 2012

RECIPE - Aunt Surica's Feijoada (Feijoada da Tia Surica)

Tia Surica making feijoada
In yesterday's discussion of the role feijoada plays in Rio de Janeiro's world-famous Carnaval, Flavors of Brazil talked about the huge feijoada buffets that the city's many samba schools serve to their members and supporters during the build-up to Carnaval. On Saturdays in January and February, each samba school holds a rehearsal for its parade during Carnaval in Rio's Sambadrome. Rehearsals tend to to be long, hot work and they leave those who participate perilously close to exhaustion.

To refuel the body and rebuild energy for the party/dance that follows the rehearsal it's traditional to serve an feijoada buffet to the attendees. These buffets also serve as an important fund-raiser for the school.

Portela's 2012 poster
One of the most famous feijoadas among Rio's various samba schools is the one served at Portela. Portela is one of the city's oldest (founded in 1923) and most well-loved schools. Based in the lower-class neighborhood of Madureira, Portela, during its long history, has won the samba school championship 21 times, although admittedly the last time was in 1984.

Portela's feijoada is under the supervision of a long-time member of the school, known to all as Tia Surica (Aunt Surica). Now 71 years old, Tia Surica's career with Portela goes back to the first time she paraded with the school - when she was 4 years old, leashed to her mother's belt for safety. One of the members of the school's board of director, Tia Surica is in charge of the school's buffet and it is her recipe which the batallion of cooks use when preparing the feijoada.

Obviously, Tia Surica's recipe feeds a crowd - a large, hungry crowd. But should any of our readers wish to make feijoada for a large party, we're publishing her recipe courtesy of the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, where it appeared this week. At Portela's feijoada buffets, this recipe is increased by several hundred percent, but with these quantities, it should feed up to 40 people.
RECIPE - Aunt Surica's Feijoada (Feijoada da Tia Surica)

4.5 lb (2 kg) dried black beans
1/2 cup olive oil
2 fresh pork hocks, split
4.5 lb (2 kg) carne de sol - dried and salted beef
4.5 lb (2 kg) pork baby back ribs
6 large garlic sausages, kielbasa or similar
4.5 lb (2 kg) pork loin, salted if available, if not fresh will do
2.2 lb (1 kg) linguica or chorizo hot sausage
4.5 kg (2 kg) tripe
1 kg fresh beef brisket
8 bay leaves
6 onions, chopped
4 heads of garlic, cloves peeled and smashed
8 bunches kale, de-stemmed and cut into thin strips
1/2 lb bacon, cut into small cubes and fried until crisp
bacon fat from the cooked bacon
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch green onion
10 oranges
4.5 lb (2 kg) farinha (manioc flour)
4.5 lb (2 kg) white long-grain rice, cooked and kept warm
oregano, salt and black pepper to taste
All the salted meats (carne de sol, salted pork etc) must be soaked in cold water for at least 48 hours before beginning to cook. During that time change the water at least six times.

Soak the black beans in plenty of water for at least 12 hours before beginning to cook.

Wash the pork hocks very well, and boil them separately in a large pot. When completely cooked, remove them from the pot, let them cool, then reserve them.

Cut all the meats and sausages into large bite-sized pieces. Do not include the tripe. Separate the ribs. Put all the meats in a large stockpot or kettle, cover with cold water, bring to a boil and let cook until very tender. Reserve.

Drain the beans, cover with lots of fresh water and cook over medium heat until tender, about 45 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the beans. Begin to sample for doneness after 45 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve in cooking water.

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is just beginning to brown. Add oregano, salt and pepper to taste then add the beans with some of their cooking liquid, just enough to keep them very moist. Stir to mix, then add the tripe. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about an hour, adding more liquid from the bean pot from time to time.

Add the reserved meats and sausages to the beans, stir to mix, and cook for about 30 minutes more. Add more liquid if needed - you want the beans and meat to have a thick broth, not a soup. The dish should not be allowed to go dry, however.

Meanwhile, in another large pan heat the bacon fat, add the bacon bits and onion and cook until the onion is transparent. Add the kale, and stir-fry, cooking only until the kale takes on a bright green color. Reserve.

Cut each orange into 8 wedges lengthwise. Chop the cilantro and green onions (green part only), mix them together and put into a bowl.

Mount the feijoada on a large buffet-style table. Serve the beans and meat in bean-pots or large deep dishes. Serve the white rice at the side of the beans. Next, place bowls or serving platters of stir-fried kale, then bowls of orange wedges and chopped cilantro and green onions for garnishing. Make sure to serve a good quality hot sauce for those who want. The obligatory drink to accompany a plate of feijoada is a caipirinha.

Recipe translated and adapted.

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