Brazilian Style Beans
Today’s post is dedicated to my dear friend Laural, one of my best taste testers for this blog.
Laural and I work together and the other day she was complaining about beans. She said that she loves beans, but they make her feel bloated. I told her that I had the perfect recipe for her, and promised to send it to her as soon as possible. However, since these days my whole life revolves around this blog (even our weekly menu is based on the blog), I decided to make a post for those delicious Brazilian Style Beans so I can share it not only with Laural, but with all of you! :)
Beans are sacred for Brazilians. In Brazil we eat beans at least once a day, sometimes more. A typical lunch consists of rice, beans (we usually use carioca beans, but you’d also see other kinds of beans, like black beans for example), beef or chicken, salad and fries. I know you’re probably thinking: “Triple starch!!! What a heresy!” You can judge us, I don’t care! It’s delicious! Carbs are my friend!
So, since we eat a lot of beans, imagine if we hadn’t figured out a way to eliminate the bean’s gases. No fun, huh? Thankfully, we have a trick that will change your life (and your digestion) forever.
The trick is: the night before you plan to serve beans, wash them really well (having already picked through and discarded the damaged beans and stones. This is important!) until the water coming out is translucent. Then boil some water (enough to cover the beans) and soak over night. The washing plus soaking helps to eliminate the starch, which is the main reason for gas production.
I’m using carioca beans today, which are similar to pinto beans. But you can use any type of beans you’d like! :)
The picture above was taken the morning after soaking the beans overnight. Do you see how the water is “blurred’? That’s the starch! And sometimes you can see some gases floating in there as well!
Drain the beans and rinse them one more time. If you want, you could soak them again for a few more hours if you’re not ready to cook them.
To cook the beans, I use a pressure cooker. Every Brazilian owns a pressure cooker, mostly because we are lazy and don’t wanna stay all day in the kitchen. So if you are like me, go buy one now! :) If you don’t wanna go buy one (Why?!?), you can totally cook the beans in a regular pot but it will take you 1.5 to 2 hours.
In the pressure cooker, add the beans (2 cups), 2 bay leaves and 8 cups of water. Let it cook over high heat until the pressure cooker starts “singing”, then lower the heat to medium. It should take 30 minutes for the beans to be cooked and al dente. Just turn the heat off, wait for the pressure to come out, then open and check on them. If they are not ready yet, keep cooking in increments of 15 minutes until they are tender.
Now that the beans are cooked, the fun begins! You can pretty much put whatever you want in your beans. People put sausage, pork, tofu, etc. I put bacon! I think the bacon adds flavor to the beans without overpowering the dish, because it’s a side dish after all. If I’m eating it as a main dish, then I might add some sausage. There’s also feijoada, which is a black bean stew cooked with all kinds of pork meat, but I’ll leave that for another post.
So, in a large skillet, add the chopped bacon and let it fry in its own fat. Once the bacon is golden, add the garlic and the onion and sauté until translucent. If it’s too dry, you can add some olive oil.
Take a ladle of beans (just beans without broth) and add it to the bacon/garlic/onion mixture. Cook it for a minute or so and, with the back of a wooden spoon, mash the beans a bit until they get kinda thick. The mashed beans will help thicken your beans and they will be absolutely amazing! So don’t skip this step!!!
Now you can either transfer this mixture to the rest of the beans or transfer the rest of the beans to this mixture. I chose to add the beans to the skillet, because my skillet was big enough. But either way would work!
Let the beans cook (over medium-low heat) until they thicken to the desired consistency. That should take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.
Season with salt, discard the bay leaves and serve with rice.
You can cook your beans ahead, freeze them and do the whole seasoning part (bacon, garlic, onions, etc) whenever you’re ready to serve them.
If I would be an organized person, I would always have beans in my freezer. Because beans are delicious, they are good for you and they make any meal better. There’s seriously nothing better than a plate with freshly cooked rice and beans. And your house/apartment will smell amazing!
P.S. You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days! :)
- 2 cups dried carioca (or pinto) beans
- 8 cups of water, plus more for washing and soaking
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 strips of bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- Salt to taste
If freezing, freeze after cooking in the pressure cooker and season on the day you plan on serving.