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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chicken Feijoada

If you Google "national dish of Brazil", page after page comes up for feijoada (pronounced fay-ZHWAH-duh). It's a stew traditionally made of sausage, meat and beans served with a side of collard greens. I don't claim to know a thing about Brazilian cuisine but funny enough, the one time I ate dinner at a Brazilian family's house, feijoada was served.

From what I can gather, this recipe from Cuisine isn't quite the time-honored version that you'd find in Rio de Janeiro. First, it's made with shredded chicken instead of pork and beef. More specifically, you're looking at pig ears and feet as well as beef tongue. And instead of a dutch oven, traditionally it's cooked in a clay pot. Still, it looked delicious. And since my family doesn't eat pork, chicken, turkey bacon and beef kielbasa is a good trade-off.
Chicken Feijoada

3 strips turkey bacon, diced
1/2 lb kielbasa, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
2 cups diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed separately (15 oz each)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes in juice (14.5 oz)
1/2 dry converted white rice
1/2 lb shredded cooked chicken
4 cups stemmed and chopped collard greens
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
orange wedges (optional)
sliced jalapeños (optional)

1. Cook bacon in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat until crisp; drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Add kielbasa to drippings, sauté until brown, 6 minutes, then drain along with the bacon. Pour off all but 1 tbsp drippings, stir in onion, garlic, and chili powder; sweat until onion is soft, about 6 minutes.
2. Deglaze pot with wine and simmer until nearly evaporated. Purée 1 can of beans in a blender or food processor, then add to the pot with the remaining whole beans, reserved bacon and kielbasa, broth, tomatoes, rice and chicken. Bring stew to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer stew 20 minutes. For a thicker stew, turn heat down to low and cook for 1 to 2 hours.
3. Sauté greens in oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Add greens to stew and season with salt.
4. Garnish each serving with orange wedges and jalapeño slices.

The Verdict: Depends on who you talk to.
I thought it was delicious. The turkey bacon and kielbasa lent a smoky flavor to a very busy dish. I decided that the 20 minutes cook time the recipe called for was not nearly enough as the consistency was too soupy. So I turned the heat down to low and let the liquid thicken which coated the ingredients nicely in a rich sauce. I loved that despite all the meat, each bite was filled with beans and vegetables, too.

My husband's first reaction was that it "looked like a disaster." (Thanks, honey!) There is a lot going on in this stew to merit this response. But after he tasted it, he declared it was "good."

Our son, however, was like eating dinner with picky Cookie Monster. First he declared, "Me no like sausage." Then it was, "Me no like spinch." (That's spinach for those of you who are without toddlers--and by the way, there was no spinach in this dish.) Then we got, "Me no like tomatoes" followed by "me no like beans." (Since when?!) He did inform us that "I like chicken," abandoning Toddler Caveman-Speak and eating every speck of chicken on his plate. Sigh.

I left out the jalapeños because none of us are gigantic fans of obviously hot. But they do make the dish very pretty.

This makes a lot of stew. Invite friends over or prepare for leftovers.

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