Brazilian Feijoada

Due to an upcoming trip to a land of spit- roasted pig and beans, this Brazilian dish felt like a good precursor. It is pronounced fay-zwah-da (my Brazilian friend says it MUCH better than I do!) and is traditionally served on special occasions. Thanks to the lovely invention of the slow cooker, this dish was possible with little hands-on time on a weekend.

At first I was a bit skeptical. There were no spices other than salt and pepper – and just onions, chicken broth, garlic and meat/beans. I felt like it had the potential to be bland, until I realized you sear all the meat in bacon grease before putting it in the slow cooker, add a ham hock for flavor, and let them slow cook for a full 8 hours.

I am still unsure how this dish came from Cooking Light, but I will turn my head in denial because it is AMAZING. The flavor is so rich and comforting. I put orange juice in my rice (since you serve the dish with orange wedges) and it gave a good light citrus flavor to balance out the heaviness of the dish.

I have never been to Brazil, but this dish alone makes me want to take a trip immediately and have this dish in the land in which it was invented. If my slow cooker attempt was this good, I can only imagine what the real thing tastes like!

Bon Appetit!

BRAZILIAN FEIJOADA
Serves 8

2 cups dried black beans
4 slices applewood-smoked bacon
1 pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed (about 2 pounds)
3 cups finely chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (9-ounce) smoked ham hock
1 tablespoon white vinegar
8 orange wedges

Place beans in a small saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Sprinkle pork evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to medium-high. Add pork to drippings in skillet; sauté 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer pork to a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Sprinkle ribs evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add ribs to skillet; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place ribs in slow cooker. Add drained beans, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, onion, and next 3 ingredients (through ham hock) to slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours or until beans and meat are tender.

Remove ribs from slow cooker; let stand 15 minutes. Remove meat from bones; shred meat with 2 forks. Discard bones. Discard ham hock. Return beef to slow cooker. (if your dish is like mine, the meat had already fallen off the bone and I could just shred in the slow cooker!).

Stir in vinegar and crumbled bacon. Serve with orange wedges and rice.

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