Food Glorious Food

Brazilian Feijoada Recipe and Memories of my Time in Brazil

Katie Baldwin~ By Katie Baldwin

In my latest book, A Ghost of a Chance, there is a lot of talk of food.  I love to cook, and that love has spilled into my romances.  My stories often feature characters happily cooking in the kitchen.  I have received many emails imploring me to “send the recipe,” and I’m always happy to oblige.

So I knew before my ghostly tale came out that one meal was going to get recipe requests. You see, after a particularly grueling scene in the book, one of the characters makes Feijoada for the ghost hunting team.  (I call them the Scooby gang because — BUFFY FOREVER!) Feijoada (pronounced fedg-e-wa-da) is the kind of meal that not only fills your belly but your soul. It is the national dish of Brazil. Its origins are less than stellar.  Enslaved people would mix black beans with whatever meat leftovers their “owners” deemed to offer them. Thus, they often had to make do with a cow’s tongue, and other pieces of discarded meat. They wasted nothing. And they cooked and cooked the beans with the leftover meat.  From all that cooking, magic happens. Some mysterious chemistry of time, meat, beans and love makes the perfect meal. This black bean dish reflects the creativity and resourcefulness of the enslaved people of Brazil. It is amazing. My family lived there when I was young, and I have the fondest of memories of going to a neighbor’s home to eat black beans and rice with their huge family.  My version of the recipe hails from a northern part of Brazil called Recife where we lived. Our home was right across from the ocean. Seriously! And of course, I wish I lived there now. The name of the street? Boa Viagem (translation: good view). No truer words have been spoken, friends.

Famiiy of FourHere is a photo of my family on the terrace – yeah, it’s the 1960s.  So, enjoy the clothes and hair. But do you see the ocean behind us? Also, an aside, doesn’t my mom look glamorous?  I’m the taller kid with my arms on my hips. I think I’m something.

When you make this dish – and you should do it as soon as possible.  Make sure to cook some rice at the end and play some Antônio Carlos Jobim while you eat this wonderfully tasty meal.  I’m telling you now you won’t regret it!


Serves 8-10

  • Spareribs
  • Chorizo or other smoked spiced pork sausage
  • Fresh breakfast sausage
  • ham hock
  • 3-1/2 quarts water
  • Dried black beans
  • Lean slab bacon
  • Canadian-style bacon in 1 piece
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • About 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped (or 1 cup
  • canned plum tomatoes, drained
  • 2 bottled Tabasco peppers, drained, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 large oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

THE MEATS: Precook the meats in the following fashion:  Put the spareribs, sausages and ham hock in water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. THE BEANS: In a heavy 12-quart casserole or a large soup pot, bring water to a boil over high heat.  Drop in the beans and boil them briskly for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour. Then add the ham hock and lean bacon. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 1 hour. Check the beans so that they do not get too dry. They should be moist and slightly soupy.  Add boiling water if necessary. Preheat the oven to 250. Continue cooking the beans for 1 hour. Finally, add the smoked and fresh sausage and bacon and cook for 30 minutes. when the meats are tender, remove them from the pot and place them in the oven to keep warm. Skim the fat from the surface of the beans and remove the pot from the heat. (but I tend to let the beans cook overnight in a crock pot to really give them that legit Brazilian all-night cooking flavor.)  

THE SAUCE: In a heavy 8-10-inch skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat and all the onions and garlic, Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent but not brown.  Stir in tomatoes, Tabasco peppers, salt and black pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove 2 cups of beans from the casserole and add them to the skillet. Mash them thoroughly into the onion mixture, moistening them with 2 cups of the bean liquid as you mash.  Stirring occasionally, simmer the sauce over low heat for 25 minutes, or until it becomes thick. With a rubber spatula scrape the sauce into the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Present the beans, with rice and orange slices in separate bowls.

* Do you include recipes in your books? Please share!

Katie Baldwin has a secret life. During the day she is a mild-mannered researcher at a prestigious University. By night she writes fantastical tales of romance and mystery. When she is not pacing her home working out dialogue in her mind, she is baking scones and cooking meals for family and friends. Aside from writing, she has a ferocious passion for the Green Bay Packers, Nutella and her MinPin/Chihuahua mix dog-baby, Marley. She can be found on twitter waxing eloquently about all of her passions. Go Pack Go! She can be reached via twitter @katiebwrites or her website.

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