Life and Other Miracles

Where we go from here …

A trip down south: Brazil

on February 16, 2013

This week, we journey to South America to sample the cuisine of Brazil. While Mike and I have been fortunate enough to travel to the continent twice (two trips to Ecuador), we haven’t yet made it to this biggest of South American countries. If today’s menu is any indication, once we do, we’ll be eating a lot of meat.

Practically every website on the internet that I perused while searching for an entree mentioned feijoda, which is apparently the national dish of Brazil (so says the internet). A pork and bean stew, this recipe seemed sure to feed an army, which is why we invited Coralea and Tammy for dinner. Since Tammy is mostly a carnivore herself, it seemed a perfect match.

There were many recipes for feijoda to be found, but I chose to go with yet another recipe from the Global Food Table site, simply because I have been so happy with all of her recipes so far. Additionally, she seems to size recipes reasonably, which is key in a household that often lets leftovers sit untouched for days.

Like Sasha, I wasn’t able to find carne seca or paio sausage. We substituted beef jerky (fancy beef jerky, not the crap you get at a gas station) and pork chorizo. It’s important to soak the jerky the night before so that you can cook with it.

Put simply, this dish is not for vegetarians. Or vegetarian sympathizers. In order to enjoy, you have to commit to the meat, because meat is the star of this dish. Starting with the bacon, ending with the ribs, every bite was protein packed and delicious.

MEAT

There are no fewer than five types of meat in this recipe. Pork ribs, pork chorizo, bacon, rehydrated beef jerky, and pork shoulder. The bacon goes in first, creating a beautiful Maillard reaction in the pan. One step I added that isn’t in the original recipe is to deglaze the pan with a bit of water right before adding the beans so all that delicious brown flavor is incorporated into the dish.

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Add the beans, then the meat, a couple of cups of water, and simmer. Your house will smell like meat-eaters’ heaven. For two hours, your mouth will be watering.

meat in pot

At last, it’s done. The meat is so tender, it’s falling off the bone. The beans are perfectly al dente. Scoop it onto some rice and chow down.

feijoda

Michael participated in this week’s meal as well. He was in charge of the sides, which included Brazilian rice and sautéed kale. I would have liked to have served farofa, since this seems to also be a typical Brazilian dish, but manioc flour is not readily available, even at Whole Foods. Rice seemed a reasonable sub and we did use a Brazilian recipe.

rice

The rice was fantastic. Perfectly fluffy, it was a nice contrast to the meat. The kale, sadly, did not win such rave reviews. Mike blames it on too much vinegar. Personally, I think that kale should not be cooked. A massaged kale salad will beat sauteed kale any day. Still, it was nice to have some green on the plate.

whole meal

I also decided to try my hand at dessert again, since last week’s went over so well. I chose to make passion fruit mousse, primarily because I remember eating something similar to that in Ecuador and thinking it was delicious. Sadly, I was able to find neither passion fruits or passion fruit juice at Whole Foods, so instead went with guava. When we were in Ecuador, we did eat a lot of guava, so I figured it was reasonable.

This was fairly easy to make. Looking at the recipe, it seems like it would be labor intensive, but it’s not, especially if you have a stand mixer. I only made the mousse, not the crust, so I didn’t bother with putting it in a mold. Instead, it went into crystal glasses, since presentation is half the battle. The mixture was velvety and delightfully pink. The hardest part was waiting for it to set!

dessert

This was the perfect ending to the meal. Light, creamy, and not too sweet, it was a nice change from a dense carnivore’s delight. Quinn heartily approved.

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All in all, our journey to Brazil was successful. It definitely makes me want to hop a plane and try out the real thing!

 

PS: If you want to know what I often look like when I’m cooking, here you go. Onion goggles are key.

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