BBC MasterChef quarter-finalist Hannah Gregory, whose cooking is inspired by journeys around the world, takes us on a culinary trip to soak up the flavours of Brazil
Feijoada – the national dish of Brazil. As I understand, often eaten on Sundays as us old Brits would do a roast. A comforting stew of black beans, warming spices and all the piggy bits.
There is something truly magical about Brazil – a melting pot of cultures, and in the city’s cafés and restaurants there’s a real mix of traditional cuisines and western influences. True to form, I ate everything I possibly could whilst there, but I always kept coming back to this one dish.
During my time in Brazil, where I was living off pennies, this was one of the most comforting and cheapest dishes found on menus from restaurants to cafés to beach shacks across the country. Now this sounds like real first world problems, especially in current climes, but travelling is exhausting. I don’t mean that in a negative way. . . heck, get me on a plane tomorrow PURLEASE! But days of long bus rides, getting lost, missing connections, lugging backpacks, being called a gringo, getting bitten and stung by everything out there and let’s not even mention the chub rub – sometimes you just yearn for a comforting meal.
The smell of this stew and the toasted cassava flour – farofa – that adorns it was as welcoming to me as my Mum’s roast chicken. Studded with malgueta chillis that are so hot they make you cry but are also strangely addictive, this is one of my all-time favourite meals. It is one of those dishes that has the magic of sheer transportation. Close your eyes, put your face in front of the radiator and you are in Brazil.
HOWEVER, traditionally this is made with all the pig bits – snouts and tails and ears and trotters and more often than not, a tongue for good measure. Whilst I appreciate the need to eat nose to tail and that minimising food waste is an absolute must, I just can’t physically deal with it myself. I’m sorry. Call me a fake, call me a phony. I know my Gran will be reading this and tutting in dismay but I just can’t handle the toes and tongues of the swine. Because of this I dismissed this dish as something I couldn’t cook and filed it in the ‘things I eat when I’m there and will never recreate’ folder. Until recently.
The craving, probably stemming from the distinct lack of travel, got too much and I decided enough was enough. I would get all the piggy bits that didn’t make me squirm and give it a jolly good go. And you know what? It was frickin delish. So much so, it featured on my recent takeaway menu and the crowd went wild. And so here it is for you guys – porky, beany, comfort in a bowl.
WANDERSUPS FEIJOADA – AKA BRAZILIAN PORK & BLACK BEAN STEW WITHOUT ALL THE GUBBINS
Spotify playlist – WanderSups Sups
Tipple of choice – Malbec
For the stew:
25g good quality lard (you can use supermarket bought at a pinch, but see if you can get the high grade stuff from your butchers – it’s totally worth it)
1kg skinless, boneless shoulder of pork cut into chunks
500g pork belly cut into chunks
200g smoked ham hock
200g cooking chorizo, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
450g black beans soaked (check the packet instructions but I always soak mine in cold water overnight – you need to make sure there is a good inch of water sitting above the beans as they swell, and make sure you keep the water after you drain them as it’s a key part of the dish)
2 teaspoons dried epazote or oregano
1 teaspoon salt
A good amount of black peps
A good whack of dried chilli flakes
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1tsp dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Rice to serve
Malgueta chillis to serve (available online and highly recommended)
For the farofa:
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup of cassava flour – available online or at Far Away Food for the Bury residents
Salt and peps
Heat the lard in a large casserole dish and brown the pork shoulder and belly. Do this in batches so it doesn’t get crowded and stew itself. Remove the pork and set aside.
Repeat the process with the lardons and chorizo.
Remove the lardons and chorizo and then cook the onions and garlic in the same pan until softened.
Add the black beans, herbs, spices, bay and vinegar.
Add the meat back to the pan and give everything a good stir.
Pour in the bean water and top up with cold water to bring the liquid just above the meat.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat is falling apart and the stew is thickened.
Scum may rise to the top – if it does, just skim off with a spoon.
Whilst the stew is doing its thing, crack on with the farofa.
Fry the lardons in a cold pan. When the fat begins to render, add the butter.
Add the onions and saute till translucent.
Add the garlic and fry till golden.
Add in the flour and season. Keep moving it around the pan so it toasts without burning. You will know when it is done when it takes on a golden colour and smells nutty.
Serve the stew with rice, topped with farofa and a few of the chillis.
Find out about Hannah’s Supper Clubs and what she is currently cooking via Instagram @WanderSups or visit wandersups.com