Saturday, September 15, 2012

Random Recipe for a Dinner Party

I like to cook what the Betsy-Tacy books quaintly call a "company dinner"--something not too difficult to make but festive, something everyone will enjoy.  A good option is Feijoada, the Brazilian national dish, which my husband and I enjoyed on a trip to Rio.  It's the kind of recipe that--like meatloaf--tolerates substitutions well, although if you have all the Brazilian ingredients (but you can't easily get ALL of them in either Western Europe or the U.S.) it's extraordinary.  As it is, it's nice. 

So, first:  soak dried black beans overnight.  Goya black beans are a tasty option if available; otherwise an African brand.

In the morning:  dice and sauté in olive oil one or two red onions, a red bell pepper, and some garlic.  Chop and slice some sweet Italian sausages and some fatty strips of pork.  Bacon will do, although it's not ideal.   Rinse the beans and pour them into the pot with the onions and meat, etc.; add enough water to cover all and stir.  You may wish to add a little powdered chicken broth--not more than a teaspoon, because the sausages are usually salty.  Add a bay leaf or two.  Stir.  Bring the whole thing to a boil and then simmer on low heat, stirring, for most of the day.

You'll need to make a pot of rice to go with the beans.  

All this is the most basic part of the recipe.  If you want to get a little fancier,  you'll need:

•more diced garlic
•casava (manioc) flour (if not available, use Goya canned manioc)
•collard greens, if available.  If not, fresh spinach and/or diced zucchini will do.
•sliced oranges

Put the diced garlic and collard greens in a wok that has a tablespoon of hot olive oil in it.  Stir fry.  Meanwhile, put the manioc flour in another pot with a little olive oil, garlic powder, and butter, and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, to toast the flour.
If you're stuck with the canned manioc, you can warm it, mash it slightly, and make a little sauce for it with garlic sautéd in olive oil, and a little fresh lime juice--that particular sauce is often on the label of the Goya can.

Serve all on separate dishes:  the bean stew in a pot, the collar greens in another, rice in another, and you should have three or four piles on your place, including a slice or two of oranges, which you can bite into after a forkful of the rice-and-bean stew mix.  Or dip into the flour, or sprinkle a little of it over the rice or bean stew, or both.  Serve all with beer or red wine.

I made this today . . . was stirring with an old wooden spoon, when to my horror, a fourth of it disappeared into the stew.  My husband, who has unlimited patience, strained through the stew and didn't find it.  Luckily it showed up on my plate--so the guests never knew.

P.S.  I now find that you can make this dish delightfully in a slow cooker (or "crock pot")--after sautéing the garlic, onion, peppers, etc, and adding meat--and you can now get carne seca, the official Brazilian meat, plus the black beans on Amazon--just put all in the slow cooker with chicken or vegetable broth for eight hours.

No comments:

Post a Comment