Feijão - Brazilian Black Beans

Believe it or not, most Brazilian families have beans and rice every day. If they're not cooking a fresh batch of beans, they'll be re-heating yesterday's from a tupperware in the fridge. There's even an popular expression used when one brings unexpected guests for lunch or dinner: 'Bota água no feijão!' / 'Time to water down the beans' (as in 'we're going to need the beans to stretch a little further'). In the South East (especially in Rio) the no. 1 choice of beans is the black variety. Black beans have become synonymous with Brazil's 'National Dish'- the Feijoada - and have achieved a sort of an ambassadorial status for all other beans used in Brazil but they are hardly the most used.

Here's a simple step-by-step recipe for how to make your daily Black Beans. The recipe uses a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers play a big part in Brazilian cuisine. They're used to speed up the preparation times of many dishes, including beans, stews and even for cooking large chunks of roast beef. Pretty much every household has one, no matter where they live. In fact, if you live high up in hills in a slum and have to carry gas canisters up to your house once a week, you'll thank the pressure cooker's reduced cooking times for all the gas they save.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, put the beans in a large bowl, cover with water (at least 1 inch above the level of the beans) and leave them overnight to soak. But even then they might take as long as 3 hours to become as soft and silk as the ones quickly cooked in a pressure cooker.

Simple Feijão Preto - Simple Black Beans

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You can find black beans in most supermarkets.

This is a 500g bag from Sainsburys.


It fits nicely into a half a littre jug.


Pour it into a pressure cooker.


... and add 2 litters of water - nothing else.


Always leave at least a 3rd of the pan empty.


Lock the lid in place and turn the fire on a medium flame.


On mine, when the pressure builds up it pops up a red lock button. Lower the fire and let it cook for 40 minutes.


Remove it from the fire and run some cold water over the lid.


Turn the pressure valve to let excess pressure out.


The beans should now be soft and the water should be chocolaty brown.


Taste a few grains. If they are sill hard cook it for a bit more.


And now to spice it. Chop half an onion, a few cloves of garlic. You'll also need a few bay leaves and a tablespoon of salt.


Fry the onions and the garlic in a bit of normal cooking oil.


Mix in a few ladlefuls of the black beans.


Mix it around to pick up all that onion and garlic taste, the pour the mix into the pan with the rest of the beans.


Add the bay leaves...


... and the salt.


... cook for another 20 minutes and you're ready to serve.

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How to make a Brazilian Feijoada