Feijoada Burger with Plantain Cake
And now we have arrived at Brazil! The B’s sure are keeping us busy hoping from one end of the world to the next. Brazil is the first country for which I didn’t feel like I needed to do a ton of research. When I was an undergrad I took 3 semesters of Portuguese from a Brazilian native. She was terrific and taught us not only the language basics (most of which I have now forgotten), but also something about Brazilian culture. We even had a traditional Brazilian dinner at the end of our third semester, so I was ready for this one. Let’s crank up the Milton Nascimento, mix up a caipirinha (or two) and let’s get cooking! Oh, yeah, before we start, The Federative Republic of Brazil is a giant country in South America (fifth largest country in the world), bordered by lots of Atlantic Ocean, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, Columbia, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and French Guiana.
They speak Portuguese in Brazil, but the pronunciation is very different from continental Portuguese – it sounds more like Spanish to my ear, but trust me on this, if you try speaking Spanish to fake it in Brazil, the Brazilians will definitely call you on it. They are proud of their language and don’t appreciate people acting like it’s the same as Spanish.
One note, as a good friend recently found out, if you want to visit Brazil you need to get a visa – check the consulate website, you have to go in-person for an interview, if you don’t have a visa, they’ll turn you back at the airport! Luckily, we can explore their food without leaving the comfort of our neighborhoods.
Brazilians have had an economic boom lately but for a long time there was a great deal of poverty in Brazil. Because of this Brazilians became adept at using inexpensive meats and cooking them in ways that made them delicious and stretched them to feed more. A lot of traditional cooking involves marinating for long periods of time and/or cooking at low temps for long periods of time. The unofficial dish of Brazil is feijoada. Feijoada is simply beans cooked with meats for a long time until the flavors meld and the whole thing becomes a yummy meaty/beany wonder. I’ve used dried beans for this recipe because they hold up to the long cooking times. You can substitute canned beans, but the end result will probably be a bit mushy. You can also substitute chorizo for the linguica – we tried both and the linguica had a bit more flavor, a smoky spiciness that we thought would work well in the feijoada, but I realize not everyone has linguica in their local grocery store. (New England is home to many Portuguese and their descendents, so we get great Portuguese ingredients in our local supermarkets).
To get the right flavors here, you just need to take time, lots of time. There’s nothing difficult in the preparation of this burger, but you will need 3 hours for soaking the beans and 3 hours for cooking the feijoada – you will be rewarded with your house filling with the scents of spice and beef and general yumminess. This is not a vegetarian friendly dish, but you could just cook some black beans with onion, bay leaf and a little vinegar and it would be ok on a veggie burger, but not nearly as good as the real thing with meat (sorry veg friends).
This isn’t spicy, just rich and delicious. Brazilians like to serve oranges with feijoada, I tried that and didn’t love it, so I made a mayonnaise with fresh orange juice that complemented the burger perfectly. We, of course, served our burgers with a mid-priced Argentinian Malbec, a great combo. And, before I forget, my dad hates beans, so I made him an X-Tudo burger. This is apparently the big burger in Brazil, it’s so much like the Australian Burger with the Lot, that I didn’t feel like it warranted a recipe – it’s basically beef patty, lettuce, tomato, roasted corn, ketchup, mayo, cheese, fried egg and shoestring fries – my dad loved it! Something for everyone in Brazil, cheers!
1 pound ground beef
Linguica from the feijoada with casings removed
Feijoada (recipe below)
Plantain Cakes (recipe below)
Orange Mayo (recipe below)
Mix ground beef and linguica together then form four patties. Cook to desired temperature. Serve patties on Plantain Cakes with Feijoada and Orange Mayo
1 cup dried black beans
6 cups water
4 ounces slab bacon cubed
6 ounces linguica sausage sliced
1 small Vidalia onion diced (about 2 cups)
2 beef ribs (10 ounces)
3 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
salt and pepper
Rinse beans and place in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and cover. Let beans sit for 3 hours. Drain and rinse the beans. In a large pot, brown the bacon over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the fat is rendered. Add the sausage and brown for about 3 minutes turning to get even browning.
Add the onions and ribs cook for another 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the drained beans, 3 cups of water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Add the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another hour until the beans are soft and the meat is fork tender. Add water if necessary as the feijoada cooks.
Remove the ribs from the feijoada and discard. Remove the sausage and use in the burger patties. Serve feijoada with a slotted spoon so that you don’t get too much liquid on your burger. Serve hot – this can be made a day ahead of time and reheated before using.
2 green plantains
Peel and slice the plantains. Place in a food processor with a pinch or two of salt. Pulse until coarsely chopped. In a large non-stick pan, heat enough peanut oil to cover bottom of pan with about ¼ inch of oil. Heat oil until shimmering. Form four cakes from the plantains and using a spatula, slowly add the cakes to the hot oil. Fry cakes until golden, then turn and cook other side (about 2-3 minutes per side). Place cooked cakes on paper towel to drain oil before serving.
½ cup mayonnaise
juice from ½ of a large orange
¼ teaspoon chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder, but regular chili powder is good too)
Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach