Eat the Pigskin, Don't Watch It

Our lame nation spent Sunday coveting the pig skin. Brazil ate it and had a real party. Because a bawdy, sexual parade is about a million times more interesting than two squadrons of men running into each other between expensive tv ads. That said, I decided to celebrate the week with Brazil’s national dish.

(Also, I’m poor: it’s filling and lasts forever).

It’s called Feijoada and, legend has it, it was invented by slaves who had been handed only the junk parts of the pig and a sack of black beans. Now it’s the national dish, a delicacy of sorts –meant to only be eaten, over rice, in the middle of the day (accompanied by half an orange and cane rum).

There are a lot of fey, lame-o recipes out there, ostensibly written by Brazilians who don’t think we can take the sight of a pigs foot or an ear or a snout. Well, yes you can.

My brother over at the Culinary Institute of America told me how to go for this one –the old fashioned way. The girls over at the Brazilian Consulate seemed to think it was pretty cool that I was making a Feijoada. But they couldn’t give me any good intel on a special butcher shop, or even a Brazilian grocer for some of the optional ingredients. They told me to check the web site. Which I couldn’t read. Because it’s in Portugese.

Luckily, here in Miami, you can get pig’s feet, neck bones, etc. at Winn Dixie and Publix, cheaply and easily.

Look, it takes two days, and maybe thirty bucks. But you could feed a fuckin’ army with what you’ll have at the end. And everyone will be ready to die for you afterwards –or at least help you clean up. -- Calvin Godfrey

Here’s what he told me:

An enamel dutch oven or a really big, heavy-bottomed pot.

Time: It takes all day people. You won’t be doing much. It’s kinda like the laundry, except delicious.

3 lbs black beans.

3 pigs feet

1 lb. Smoked neck bones (soaked for an hour or two)

2 lbs ox tail

1 six pack Guinness Extra Stout

optional: Chorizo, salt pork, carne seca, linguica, etc.

Sofrito –1 large red onion, 2 bell peppers, 6 cloves garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and hot chilies (whatever suits your pepper threshold).

Spices: Spicy stuff, you know. Fresh ground pepper. Cumin. Cayanne. Dried Chiles: Ancho

Garnish: Oranges and Cilantro.

1)Soak three pounds of black beans overnight, changing the water every so often and washing a few times.

2)Cover beans and cook 1.5-2 hours until Al Dente. Rinse a few times and cover with fresh water.

3) When beans are ready salt and pepper the meats (except for neck bones). Then brown pig’s feet, neck bones, and ox tail in frying pan with a little canola oil. Do it in shifts to avoid crowding the pan.

4) Mix the browned meats down into the beans and cover mixture (about 3/4 of the way) with three Guinness Extra Stouts. Drink the rest.

5)Partially cover. and put into the oven at 220-250 all day. That’s between five and seven hours. So go do something –just, you know, check it a couple a times. Pour beer in it if it gets low. Who told you to drink all the beer?

5) During the last hour or so of cooking, chop up your veggies and sweat them with a little olive oil. Scoop out a cup of so of beans and mix them in. If you have a blender, blend it all up. If not, just try to mash them with the sofrito using a spoon. This is about the same time that you want to add any of the other meats.

6) Place pot on stove top and crank up the heat to reduce the liquid –another hour or so. Keep seasoning to your taste: pepper, cumin, salt, chilis, cayenne, thyme. Make it good dude. Make it good.

7) Let the whole thing chill out for a while. Then serve it over rice, maybe with some fresh cilantro, salsa or hot sauce. Garnish with half an orange, a stiff drink.

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