Top | Bean by Bean: A Cookbook
(recipe, Crescent Dragonwagon)
The national dish of Brazil is traditionally a pot of black beans made savory by herbs, spices, a touch of orange, and, in its classic formulation, with cow and pig in many forms — chorizo sausage, beef tongue, salt pork, and whatever else the home or restaurant cook has on hand and can afford. The stew has many fans when made this way — it’s the national dish for a reason — but when I make it, by my long-time personal preferences, I omit the meat. Anyone who deems this a loss has not tasted my version: different, but easily as good, and likely to help you live long enough to enjoy it many more times than the other. I’ve amped the seasonings way up, added some savory sautéed vegetables, and made a few other changes. The orange, rind and all, cooked with the beans is traditional, and I do love the subtle flavor it gives — so much so that I sometimes make it less subtle by using two oranges. Your call; one is standard operating procedure. Chipotle peppers and smoked paprika give it that nice woodsy, wild flavor reminiscent of the meats. I probably prefer the bean-only variety, but every so often, as a nod to tradition, and also to add texture and further layers of flavor, I incorporate several varieties of soysage. I like this, too, and I must say, many guests have raved about it. Either way, serve it completa, and be sure to include the sliced oranges, which are essential; their fruity, juicy, acidic-sweet tang perks up the whole dish. I promise that when you eat either version, you won’t be saying, “Well, not bad for vegetarian,” but simply, “Wow.” Highly satisfactory all around.
Feijoada Completa is complete feijoada . . . with all the fixings, as we might say, on one plate. Just as feijoada has infinite variations, so do its accompaniments. … But here’s what more or less constitutes the whole thing: • Feijoada (or Fauxjoada) • Cooked white rice • Couve a Mineira (raw collard greens) • Molho a campanha (a cross beteen salsa, tomato slaw, and vinaigrette) • Farofa (tapioca flour pilaf) • Sliced fresh oranges Variation: Fauxjoada Vegetariana with Soysage. Meaty, and yet, of course, not, this is a heartier version of the above. After you’ve sautéed the onion mixture and deglazed the skillet, wash and dry it. Add another 2 or 3 tablespoons oil to the skillet, and place it over medium-high heat. Add 1 to 3 packages (12 ounces each) commercially prepared vegetarian sausage links (soysages) — 1 package each Italian, chorizo, and Polish flavors, or just one variety if you prefer — and cook, in batches if necessary, until brown on all sides, about 6 minutes total per batch, adding a little more oil if necessary. Remove the soysages from the pan, and let them cool to the touch. (If you like, again deglaze the skillet with a little of the bean-cooking liquid, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan: extra tastiness. Return this liquid to the pot.) Slice the soysages into 2-inch chunks (you can slice them thinner if you prefer) and add them to the beans when you add the squeezed-out garlic cloves.