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Basic Brazilian Beans

Brazilians eat an amazing amount of beans. And I don't say this lightly. I went in search of the average consumption of beans and I found this figure from the Ministry of Agriculture showing lamenting the reduction in the consumption of beans per person per year from 23kg in the 70's and 80's to a mere 18kg in 2010. But is that a lot of beans? So I went in search of a comparison. The Brits love baked beans so I looked up on the Heinz website and they reckon the average Brit eat 3kg of baked beans per year. So that starts to put things into perspective. So this is the second episode in my series of Brazilian Basics. Given the importance of beans in Brazilian cuisine, I would have made it the first episode but I wanted to make this whole point about the popularity of pressure cookers in Brazil, so I asked my friends to send pictures of them and their cookers, which was also a fun way to get people involved. Thank you very much to all who did send their pictures.

So here is the recipe, and bear in mind I am trying to keep things BASIC here. So no fancy spices, etc. However, if you like your beans spiced in a different way, do leave a comment with your suggestion as it will add a lot of value to other readers of this blog.

Simple Brazilian Rice (serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 500g beans (I'm using black beans but Brazilians like all sorts of beans)
  • 2l cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
  • salt to taste

Method for pressure cooker

  1. Rinse the beans under the tap.
  2. Add them to the pressure cooker with the bay leaves and 2 litres of water and set the flame to high
  3. As soon as the water starts to simmer add the lid and lock it in place. Lower the flame to medium and cook for 40 minutes.
  4. Place the pressure cooker in your sink under a running tap and open the pressure valve. Wait till all the steam is gone and your pressure cooker's failsafe unlocks (if yours has one). Close the tap and open the cooker. Place it back on the stove over a low heat (without the lid) while you prepare the seasoning. You will know the beans are cooked when they are very soft and the water has turned into a matt 'hot chocolate' liquid. If they're still not cooked, replace the lid and return the cooker to the stove for another 5 minutes.
  5. Fry the onions and garlic with the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan until they start to gain some colour and add a few ladlefuls of the beans. Stir a few times to ensure the beans are picking up all the flavours glazed into the frying pan and transfer the contents back into the open pressure cooker, add salt to taste and simmer for another 10-15 minutes to let the seasoning flavours infuse on the rest of the mixture.

Method for normal saucepan cooking

  1. Rinse the beans under the tap and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with water and leave to soak overnight.
  2. Discard the water the beans were soaking in and transfer them into a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the bay leaves and cook for 2 hours. You will know the beans are cooked when they are very soft and the water has turned into a matt 'hot chocolate' liquid.
  3. Season as on step 5 above.

Eton Mess

Watermelon and lime ice lollies (ice pops)