Don't let the World Cup sneak up on you without a few recipes from My Rio de Janeiro, by renowned cook and author Leticia Moreinos Schwartz. A follow-up to her first book, The Brazilian Kitchen, My Rio de Janeiro explores the city's diverse cuisine by neighborhood. Check out her riff on the national dish of feijoada, a bean and meat stew.
Kátia Barbosa, the chef at Aconchego Carioca, an exciting botequim located near Praça da Bandeira, is playing with the most traditional dishes of Brazilian cuisine and creating new classics. If you are a tourist, you might never have heard of the neighborhood Praça da Bandeira, but trust me, you want to go there. The food being served at Aconchego Carioca is captivating audiences from all over town and fueling the renaissance of a whole neighborhood.
I heard a lot about Kátia’s famous feijoada fritters, so when I first tried them, I was full of expectations. Well, let me tell you that this bolinho (fritter) exceeded them: it is a bright twist on our national dish, one that offers a tiny crunchy taste of our traditional black bean and meat stew. Serve with orange sections and a caipirinha.
- 1 pound dried black beans (about 2 1/4 cups), picked and rinsed
- 4 ounces jerk meat (carne seca), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 ounces pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 ounces bacon, cut into thin strips
- 1 linguiça (or chorizo), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 bay leaves
- 8 cups water
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of cayenne
- pinch of paprika
- freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup manioc flour (farinha de mandioca fina)
- 2 tablespoons sour manioc starch (povilho azedo)
- 4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces bacon, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 bunch collard greens, sliced very thin and blanched
For the fritters:
- Combine the beans, jerk meat, pork, bacon, linguiça and bay leaves inside a pressure cooker. Pour in the water, cover the pan, lock the lid and cook until the beans are soft and the meat is tender, about 1 hour (start at high; when you hear the pressure hissing, bring the heat down to low and start timing).
- Remove the steam/pressure, uncover the pan and cool for 20 minutes. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, put the ingredients in a Dutch oven pan and cook for 3 hours, until the beans and meat are cooked.)
- Transfer everything to a blender and blend until smooth—do this in batches if necessary. At this point the mixture will look like a thick brown paste—not very appealing, but stay with me, it really will taste divine.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until just golden, about 2 minutes. Add the bean and meat paste, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it starts to bubble, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Taste (it will be quite seasoned from the meats) and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, the cayenne, paprika and nutmeg.
- Sprinkle in 1 cup of the manioc flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until the bean puree starts to pull from the pan, leaving a skin on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly.
- Sprinkle the sour manioc starch on a cool surface and knead the bean paste with the starch until well combined and smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap to keep it moist.
For the collard greens and assembly:
- In a separate large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the bacon, cooking until just crisp, about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, just until crispy.
- Add the blanched collard greens and toss, stirring constantly, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool to room temperature.
- Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the bean paste and roll it into a ball. Using your thumb, press a cavity into the ball, stuff with a small amount of the collard green mixture and close the ball, pinching to seal. Lightly press the ball between your hands to form it into a patty shape, making sure the filling is completely enclosed. Repeat with the remaining bean paste and collards. (At this point, the feijoada fritters can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before cooking, or frozen for up to 6 months; freeze in a single layer on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, then transfer to freezer bags.)
For frying the fritters:
Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed pot and heat to 350˚F, as measured by a deep-fat thermometer.
Fry the fritters in batches, adding as many as will fit without touching, turning them occasionally with a long slotted spoon. They will not take on a lot of color; they will become just a shade darker after frying. Transfer to a plate covered with paper towels.
Continue working in batches until all are fried. (The fritters can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge and reheated in a 300˚F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.)
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