Feijoada is a Portuguese meal that has been adopted by the Brazilian people as its national dish. It is a stew made of beans with pork or beef. The name comes from Feijão, which is Portuguese for beans.
History is a bit blurry on how feijoada originated in Brazil. Some believe in grew out of a dish the African slaves in Brazil made. This dish consisted of cheap ingredients allowed by the slave owners. Collard greens, rice, beans and farofa were cooked with leftover salted pork and meat trimmings. It eventually became popular with the lower classes and finally was recognized as the national dish of Brazil. Today, it is served in some of the finest restaurants in Rio. The second story states that feijoada developed from stews of Southern Europe brought over by immigrants and combined together to eventually form this national dish.
Feijoada is a very heavy stew. It can take several hours to prepare and cook. As such it is usually only made and served at home on rare occasions and then always at lunch as Cariocas like to eat light at dinner. In restaurants feijoada is offered as a special traditionally on Wednesdays and Saturdays and occasionally on Sundays. There are a few restaurants that do serve this stew all week long.
The Brazilian version of feijoada is made with black beans and meat products. Some of the products include salted pork, beef, pork ears, pork tails, pork feet, bacon and smoked pork ribs. Two types of jerked beef, usually tongue and loin and smoked sausage are also tossed in the pot. A slow fire is lit and the stew is put in a clay pot over the fire. The meat and beans are barely covered with the brown bean broth. The stew tastes somewhat salty and the meat dominates the flavors.
Feijoada is served with traditional side dishes. White rice always accompanies the stew. Couve à mineira or collard greens that are chopped and fried are often included. Farofa, roasted cassava flour and sliced and peeled orange may also be added as sides. Other options include cassava that is deep-fried or boiled, pork rinds called torresmo and fried bananas. Hot pepper sauce may also accompany the stew to spice it up. Beer, cachaça or Caipirinhas are served as a traditional beverage, and being a citrusy drink it helps digest the heavy meal.