Saturday, June 30, 2012

Feijao Tropeiro!

Picture shows finished product dressed with chopped chives, spinach, and topped with pieces of Pork Rinds.

Feijao Tropeiro literally translates into "Cattle Driver's Beans". A Cattle or Sheep Driver is one who forces cattle/sheep to move where they need to go, usually to and from the market. So without looking up the actual background of this recipe I am going to assume that this was a popular recipe brought along by these kinds of people. I am thinking maybe due to it's extremely high fat and protein content, it kept them full and able to tend to the job at hand, which I'm sure required a lot of stamina and energy depending on how far the market was.
      For me though, this is my favorite bean meal here in Brazil. It uses several sources of protein along with flour made from mandioca (called Yucca Root at US grocery stores) and just a couple veggies, to make up a dish that can be eaten as a side dish or all by itself. It is very filling! Feijao Tropeiro is traditionally served alongside boiled mandioca (Yucca Root), white rice, and espetinhos (shish kabobs). Anytime you find a street vendor serving shish kabobs, they USUALLY also serve white rice, mandioca, and feijao tropeiro.

To make this recipe you will need to make a trip to the International Market to pick up a bag of Mandioca Flour.. here called Farinha de Mandioca or Farofa. Any type will do, and usually you will find it by a brand called Yoki. Mandioca also goes by the name of Yucca Root in other South American Countries, or Cassava Flour in African Countries.

So, here's the recipe...

Ingredients Needed:

1. 1 pound or about 4-5 cups of Beans (preferably a small brown bean type) Cooked, drained, and set aside to dry a little.
2. 1 lb. bacon (preferably a slab that you can cube, otherwise normal pre-sliced bacon will do, just cut it up as best you can into cubes)
3. 1 lb. smoked sausage (2 cans of Vienna sausage will also work) - cut into 1/2 in slices
4. 2-3 eggs, depending on how much you like them
5. 1/2 cup minced onions
6. 1/2 cup chopped raw spinach
7. 1/2 cup chopped green onion (chive)
8. Vegetable oil for frying bacon and sausage
9. 1 bag of Farofa aka Mandioca Flour aka Yucca or Cassava Flour. It should be appear as brown to yellowish crumbs. Any seasoning or flavor will do and you can usually find it by a brand called Yoki in the states. (Most Mexican Stores carry this as well.)

Utensils Needed:
1. Knife for Chopping and Cutting
2. Spoon and fork for cooking.
3. 1 pan to fry bacon and sausage and 1 pan for scrambling eggs.
4. I large pan for Feijao Tropeiro.

1. In Brazil, Carioca type beans are generally used for this dish, but you can use any bean you like. I have had Feijao Tropeiro also with White beans and kidney beans, but you want a bean that will not easily mush up when cooked. People here usually buy dry beans  and soften them in a pressure cooker first, but if you do not want to go through the hassle, the best way to buy them would be in a frozen bag. Let them thaw and try to keep them as dry as possible. You want them to be cooked, but not mushy. If you MUST buy canned beans, do so, but try to drain them and let them sit out and dry a little as much as possible before cooking.

2. After you have figured out your bean situation, allow those to dry a little as you prep the rest of the ingredients, and set the beans aside. I usually just go ahead and put them into the big pan and leave them sitting on the stove as I do everything else.
3. Put onion,cubed bacon, and sliced sausage into a frying pan and add a little vegetable oil. Fry until everything starts to get a little crispy.

You want there to be a good amount of grease leftover, as you will use it later. You can go ahead and remove the onion, bacon, and sausage and add it on top of the beans. Set the oil aside.
4. Beat your eggs, throw a little butter or oil into a pan, and cook your eggs scrambled until they're medium to hard.

You can also go ahead and throw those in with your beans and meats as well. Don't stir anything together yet.

5. Add chopped raw spinach to bean mixture.
6. Turn on the stove and begin to lightly stir everything in the pot together over a medium fire with a normal fork. Don't do it too rough or you'll smash the beans.

7. After a few minutes of mixing it together over the fire, turn the fire off.
8. Drizzle the oil leftover from the bacon into the bean mixture, and lightly mix into the beans with a fork.

9. Add chopped green onions (chives) and begin slowly mixing in the Mandioca Flour. Mix in a little at a time with a fork, until the beans have been completely coated.

As soon as you begin to mix it large clumps will form, keep adding more and more mandioca flour and mix through gently with a fork until these large clumps have gotten much smaller, but there should still be lot's of small clumps, this is normal.

Once you feel like there is plenty of Mandioca flour, continue gently mixing through with fork until everything seems even. Done!

10. Ready to serve! Best served with BBQed meat and rice. Maybe some diced onion and tomatoes.

Note: The spinach and onion (not green onion) are both optional. I usually leave out the onion because my husband despises them, and it's still just as delicious. Sometimes when there is no spinach in the house, I leave it out as well, and it doesn't affect the overall taste either.
I highly recommend buying some pork rinds and breaking them into little pieces over the finished Feijao Tropeiro, as this is something a lot of restaurants do here. They make pork rinds from scratch here though using bits of fat and deep fry until crunchy, called Torresmo. Feijao Tropeiro is excellent topped with this. Not the healthiest selection, but it is DELICIOUS!

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