Although the situation we are all finding ourselves in at the moment may not be ideal, there are certain perks that come from being made to stay inside much of the time. All those DIY fixes you’ve been putting off for months are ticked off the list, the garden is looking exceptionally weed-free and… we can flex our culinary muscles and let our taste buds explore the flavours of the world from the comfort of our own kitchens.
Poly, one of our local experts in Brazil, is from Minas Gerais; a stunning, inland region with verdant rolling landscapes, picturesque colonial towns… and delicious food. We thought that we’d ask her what her favourite dish was so that you could try it and enjoy the flavours of her homeland too.
The dish that she has singled out is Feijão Tropeiro - a stew-like mix of beans, sausage and spring greens. It translates loosely as Cattleman’s Beans, because the “tropeiros” (cattlemen) would take beans, dried meat and manioc flour with them as good, long-lasting provisions for lengthy trips away from home. This is a slightly more elaborate version of what those original tropeiros would have concocted over the campfire, and we’ve substituted a few of the ingredients of ones easily found in UK shops, but it’s still a great dish for sampling some authentic Brazilian flavours.
Feijão Tropeiro Ingredients (serves 4 - 6)
2 x 400g tin of pinto beans, red kidney beans or black beans (drained and rinsed)
350g chorizo (diced) - the authentic version is calabresa sausage if you can find it, or you could just use a normal sausage if preferred
5 smoked bacon slices (diced)
1 egg per person to serve + 4 eggs for the stew
1 bunch collard greens e.g. spring greens (tough stems removed, leaves shredded into fine strips)
5 garlic cloves (diced)
1 red onion (diced)
150g semolina flour
Salt and pepper
Feijão Tropeiro Method
Make sure that you have all your ingredients ready and prepared as specified above.
Heat a splash of oil in a small saucepan over a low / medium heat. Break in your four eggs and stir continually until scrambled. Remove from the heat before they become dry and fluffy so that you have lovely glossy wet scrambled eggs. Sit to one side.
Heat 1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add half the diced garlic and cook until softened (without catching). Add the collard greens and cook until wilted down (about 5 mins). Season with salt and pepper, then remove from the pan and set to one side.
Using that same pan, add a splash more oil (if needed) and fry the bacon and chorizo / sausage until they are half cooked but not yet crisping up. Then add the onion and remaining garlic, cooking until translucent and beginning to colour a light gold. Sprinkle in the semolina flour (a bit at a time - you may not need all of it), stirring until the tasty oils and juices from the meat in the pan have been absorbed.
Add the drained beans, stirring through with all the other ingredients. Lower the heat and cover your pan to bring everything up to temperature. After a few mins add the greens and the scrambled egg and mix them in thoroughly with the rest. Re-cover to bring to temperature.
While the rest is coming back to temp and warming through, fry up your eggs on a relatively high heat. You want the edges crispy but the yolks still lovely and runny.
Season your Feijão Tropeiro mix to taste, then serve in pre-warmed bowls, crowned by the fried egg.