And just like that, February is over and another recipe challenge is in the books! From Asia last month to South America this month, Around the World in 12 Plates: Brazil takes us below the equator for a delicious meal. Another afternoon of cooking up lead to weeks worth of damn good leftovers.
The primary recipe on the docket this month was feijoada (pronounced fed-ge-waaa-da), which is basically the national dish of Brazil. It has a long history beginning with the importation of African slaves to work on the Portuguese sugar cane fields in the 16th century. With a diet made up of rice and beans, feijoada was the next natural step. The dish became a staple during the urbanization of Rio di Janeiro in the 19th century, and has deep roots in the Portuguese descendants of this South American country.
I read somewhere during my research that feijoada is to Brazil is what paella is to Spain. There are regional variances, and everyone has their own recipe. It also takes time. The beans and seca carne must be soaked overnight, and like most stews the longer it simmers the better it tastes. Feijoada cannot be rushed. It is a leisurely midday meal enjoyed on the weekend with friends and family (my favourite kind of food).
The most important thing I learned during this month’s challenge? There’s no set recipe for feijoada. I perused dozens of recipes, but in the end chose to loosely use the ingredients from Eric Ripert’s recipe on Food & Wine’s website and follow directions from this Smithsonian recipe.
We also made Pão de queijo as a snack. The recipe I chose to follow was from Olivia’s Cuisine, a Brazilian blogger based in New York.
No matter which recipe you use, there’s a boatload of meat in feijoada. We got meat sweats from prepping the stew. A lot of time was spent slicing and dicing linguiça sausages, smoked pork chops and most importantly carne seca. Adam and I found carne seca (Brazilian dried and cured beef) at Segovia Meat Market in Kensington Market. If you don’t live in a place where there are Brazilian butchers, you can substitute any dried cured beef.
A mid-challenge snack
While the feijoada was stewing away on the stove, we decided to have a mid-afternoon snack and make pão de queijo. These little beauties are somewhere between choux pastry and a cheese roll, and are supposedly melt-in-your-mouth. They are made with tapioca flour, and lots of cheese.
Pão de queijo are to be eaten with breakfast or as a snack with a cup of coffee. We also knocked back a couple Guaranás, a guarana-flavoured soft drink that’s really popular in Brazil. It gave us a little mid-afternoon caffeine kick, indeed.
Unfortunately my foray into pâte à choux didn’t have the best result. While the outsides were golden brown and deliciously light and crunchy, the interior of the pão de queijos were gloopy. I believe the phrase “bread-flavoured bubble gum” was tossed around the table a few times. I’m not sure what I did wrong (it was me recipe, not you), but I will be trying to make these again. I have faith they are delicious!
Feijoada for the win
As we were paying for our meats at the butcher, the lovely woman serving us demanded: “You’re going to buy that, right?” Pointing to a bag of cassava flour. “Feijoada is not feijoada without farofa!” she exclaimed. All you need to do is brown up the cassava flour on the stove with some butter, salt and pepper to make farofa. Then it’s ready to be sprinkled on top of your feijoada to add a little texture to the stew. Ta-da!
Traditionally, feijoada is served with orange slices and a sautéed green like kale or chard. When I first read this, I was like “stew and orange? WEIRD,” but I was so wrong. It was delicious! The sweet citrus of the orange cut through the fattiness of the stew and brought out all the delicious flavours. I can never have feijoada without oranges now.
Cheating on dessert
While searching for places to buy Brazilian ingredients, I came across a picture of the pastries from Brazil Bakery & Pastry. Brazil Bakery & Pastry is located on Dundas West here in Toronto, and in addition to the bakery and cafe this spot sells Brazilian and Portuguese products. So we cheated. We cheated with custard tarts and I have no regrets. These Queijadas de Nata are traditionally Portuguese tarts, but are also eaten in Brazil.
The Challengers for Around the World in 12 Plates: Brazil
Here they are, the brave souls who completed the second recipe challenge featuring dishes from Brazil. From curries to desserts, our group brought their A-game again with a great roundup of recipes you can find here!
Korena in the Kitchen: http://korenainthekitchen.com/2017/02/28/brazilian-bolo-de-rolo/
The Tasty Gardener: http://www.tastygardener.com/around-the-world-in-12-plates-brazil/
Dish ’n’ the Kitchen: https://dishnthekitchen.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/maria-helenas-creamy-shrimp-and-coconut-stew-atw12p-2-brazil/
My Organic Diary: http://my-organic-diary.com/2017/02/brazilian-lunch-bowl/
I Say Nomato: http://halifaxbloggers.ca/isaynomato/coffee-bean-brigadeiros-brazillian-truffles-around-the-world-in-12-plates/