Sunday, June 23, 2013

Rice and Beans - Brazilian style!


Brazil is all about rice and beans! Rice and beans is the staple food here and they go with absolutely everything. A usual Brazilian meal is rice, beans, meat (of any kind) and potatoes, eggs or stir fried vegetables. It's very common to see farofa as well, farofa is a mix of seasonings such as onions, garlic, parsley and bacon with either yucca or corn flour and it's eaten all over the country, especially with the famous Brazilian barbecue called "churrasco".


 
My delicious rice and beans with chicken!


But back to the rice and beans...... most Brazilians know how to make delicious rice and beans. In fact most Brazilians cook very well. They understand about flavor combinations and that simple means more. It might be a consequence of the European colonization, mostly Italian and Portuguese.

This is Farofa:

 yucca flour

 corn flour


This is Brazilian Churrasco: 




If you want to make beans the Brazilian way, you need to own a pressure cooker. Not only it will save you time but it will also make it easier for you to get the right consistency. All you have to do is add a few garlic cloves (about 2 or 3 for every cup of beans) and a tablespoon of olive oil into a pressure cooker. Cover it with a cup of beans (of any kind) and top it with water up to half the size of the pan, about 1.5 liters. Throw in 2 bay leaves and a teaspoon of salt and start cooking! Once the pan gets pressure it will take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook the beans. Release the pressure and open the pan and keep cooking the beans until the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes more on medium heat. Add an extra drizzle of olive oil and you’re good to go. If you do not have a pressure cooker though, you can soak the beans in cold water overnight to soften them and cook them the same way the next day in a regular pan, for about 2 hours or until very soft. Keep boiling the sauce after beans are soft for about 20 minutes more to thicken it.


 

Brazilians use a specific kind of bean in each region. The one used in São Paulo (the one I used in my recipe) is not so common in North America. It’s called feijão carioca (Carioca beans).
You can use the same recipe for any kind of bean though, from black eyed peas to pinto beans. The famous Brazilian feijoada is made with black beans for example, and the recipe for simple black beans is the same.
 
Feijoada is a Brazilian kind of cassoulet, made with black beans, cooked with pork meat, served with white rice, stir-fried kale and orange slices. It’s very popular all around, every Wednesday.
This is Feijoada:



And this is Cassoulet:


 

Rice and beans go well with mostly everything you eat in an ordinary day, such as chicken, meat, fish, veggies, savory blender pies, potatoes, eggs, etc. Rice and beans together is a very healthy, hearty and nutritious food. Beans are very high in protein and iron, so you wanna make sure to eat them often if you are a vegetarian like me.
However, it’s not really easy to make perfect beans, so don’t be upset if you don’t get them exactly right on your first attempt. You just have to keep trying. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Wikipedia has a page dedicated to rice and beans: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_and_beans