Brazil's national dish combines all of their major food groups: rice, beans, salty meat, and farofa, the fried yucca flour that appears alongside every meal.
Start with Beans...
Black beans are the traditional bean of choice here. Soaking isn't completely necessary, but it's a good way to ensure your beans will soften evenly and cook through in time. Soak them in well-salted water for at least eight hours.
With the pork, the more variety, the better. We visited a restaurant that used salted back fat, salted ears, salted trotter, slab bacon, and two types of sausage (Portuguese-based linguiça and a Brazilian version of smoked Andouille). I've had it with snout and tail, which both make excellent additions. The key is to include as much variation in preserved pork product as possible to add flavor and textural interest. Cut everything into spoon-sized or smaller chunks.
Both fresh beef and dried salted beef (carne do sol) make an appearance in the pot, the former sliced and pounded into thin strips, the latter cubed and added in small chunks like the bacon.
A splash of lightness in a fat and protein-heavy world. But the amount of vegetables is not enough to really lighten up the dish—they're there for flavor only. Onions, peppers, tomatoes, scallions, and a bit of cilantro and bay leaf get chopped fine and tossed into the pot.
A Slow Simmer
Our pot of stew went on the burner around 8:30 in the morning to be ready for our 2:30 PM lunch. It finished cooking just in time.
You've got nothing better to do for the next six hours, and there's no better way to kill the time than with a caipirinha or two.
The Finished Stew
Meaty and complex, spooned over rice and topped with crunchy farofa, the finished stew is comfort food at its best. Orange wedges serve as a palate cleanser between bites, while a small salad of shredded cabbage (the more traditional choice here would be sautéed kale) makes a token appearance.
Like in many South American countries, lunch is the largest meal of the day. The first plate may seem large, but make sure to leave some room for...