Iara, my best friend and matron of honor when I got married, was an architect from Porto Alegre. With her Brazilian and Portuguese background, she taught me many dishes while we were in graduate school together in Syracuse. This remains my favorite. As the famed Brazilian national dish, you can quickly understand why it is so beloved when you enjoy the whole meal: It is best served with farofa (toasted manioc flour), rice, sauteed kale, and a Batida de Limao. One theory on the origins of this dish suggests it stems from Brazilian slaves who made great feasts for themselves from the scraps of meat from their Portuguese masters, while also using all the weird leftover bits the Portuguese would not eat, such as ear and tail. Another theory is that this dish simply evolved as a Brazilian interpretation of the European cassoulet or caldeirada. In any case I like using a combination of beef ribs and pork sausage for both a tender and flavor-rich result. My version does not use pork trotter, ear or tail, traditional carne seca or smoked bacon slab since my friend Iara did not either. This is basically how Iara taught me to make her national dish. If you are making this for kosher company, you can just simply use all beef short ribs and the suggested additional spices. This recipe is also easy to cut in half. —Sagegreen
dried black beans (turtle), soaked at least overnight
beef short ribs, bone-in
Hungarian hot paprika (if using only beef short ribs)
achiote spice mix (if using all beef only) to taste
linguica (andouille or chorizo can be substituted)
pancetta, cut into small pieces
large yellow onion or 2 small, chopped
cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
fresh sprigs of thyme
4-4 1/2 cups
homemade stock, chicken preferred, you know the kind that gels in the fridge
sprinkle of black pepper
sprinkle of sea salt to taste
fresh cilantro garnish
sliced green scallions for garnish
toasted manioc flour (or use cooked toasted French couscous) and basmati white or yellow rice on the side
Rinse and sort through the black beans. Soak in a large bowl of water overnight. Have at least 3 inches of water on top of the beans. Drain the water the next day. For this recipe please don't even think about using canned black beans here...you really just can't.
Cut the sausage into 1 inch pieces (I also remove the casing). Cut the short rib meat off the bones in 1 inch pieces, but do save the bones to brown and add to the pot. In a large Dutch oven heat the olive oil. Brown the meat in batches and transfer to a platter.
In the same pan saute the chopped onions and smashed garlic. Add the pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Next add the drained beans and black pepper. Zest one half of an orange and add that. Add the flesh of one orange (with the white peel removed). Pour in 4 cups of stock, and bring to a simmer; continue to simmer slowly uncovered for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Do not let the beans burn on the bottom.
Return the browned meat (bones, too) to the pot after the sauce has begun to thicken, and continue to simmer very slowly for another half hour. If you are making a kosher version with all short ribs, add additional spices to the beef. Stir in and add additional stock if the sauce is getting overly thick. Simmer slowly for another half hour, at least, until the beans have really softened. Add salt last. Taste and adjust seasoning. You want a long, slow cook with this stew. It should reduce by almost half while cooking.
When the sauce has thickened to your liking and the meats are very tender, it is ready to serve. Remove the bones and bay leaf, as well any other bits you think unsavory. Slice up three oranges. Arrange rice and farofa, or French couscous, on a platter. Ladle the beans and the meats on top. Garnish with sliced oranges, sliced scallions, and sprigs of cilantro. Serve with sauteed kale (couve a mineira) or swiss chard, roasted cassava, and a batida de limao (or beer works, too).