I’ve had Feijoada on my mind for a long time. I made Feijoada years ago but it was one of those “Hey, it’s not you, it’s me” kind of things. It was ok, but not great. It wasn’t until I tasted a lot more Brazilian food that I “got” not just the flavor but the spirit of the dish and what a difference that has made. But guess what? This time I did it in my Instant Pot. And it was easy! So here, for your dining pleasure is Instant Pot Brazilian Feijoada!
So here’s the deal with Feijoada. It’s often called the National Dish of Brazil, although it’s a feature dish of many countries, and it’s not really a dish so much as an experience. The Feijoada itself can take many forms, but it’s always some type of stewed meats (often beef or pork, but sub in beef if you can’t do pork) and beans (and this one has black beans.) And it has tons of rich flavor, garlicky deliciousness. There’s no heat whatsoever, though, which makes it a fabulous meal for a family, for friends or for a party.
About Instant Pot Brazilian Feijoada:
These days, Feijoada can pretty much a luxury experience, about half meat and half beans (and half garlic, just kidding!) but it wasn’t always that way. Like so many treasured dishes, it came from humble roots, mostly beans with a little meat for flavor. And depending on how you shop, it can be potentially pricey, but I’ve got some strategies to keep your budget on track but more on that, below.
Feijoada isn’t just a dish, it’s an experience. There’s no doubt the Feijodo is the star, but it’s always served with orange slices, a touch of vinegar or hot sauce and/or a traditional Brazilian Vinegar Tomato Salad. On the side, there’s rice, so that’s a budget stretcher and for freshness, bright garlicky sauteed Brazillian Style Collard Greens.
Most importantly, it’s served with Farofa, a kind of crispy fried up flour dish; it’s ubiquitous in Brazil, but it was the hardest thing for me to wrap my mind around until I had a great one. Think of it as a kind of savory streusel. And it was the hardest thing to reproduce in Minnesota without resorting to shopping heroics. If you’re Brazilian, look away, because in my quest to make Farofa without cassava flour, I tired cornmeal which is the recommended sub but wasn’t happy with it, a mix of whole wheat and cornmeal, then in desperation, I just browned up some bread crumbs in oil that was spiked with chiles and garlic and then added bananas. Coz Bananas is good! I’m gonna give you the link to the Farofa recipe from Mad Hungry.
The Meat for Brazilian Feijoada:
I mentioned the Feijoada I’ve made before. It was good. And I’ve had Feijoada at restaurants. Again, good. I didn’t really get inspired to make Feijoada again until I saw Fernando Marri from Boteca Food Truck (his family owns restaurants in Brazil and his food truck Feijoada is a work of art) make his Feijoada on an episode of Diner’s, Drive-Ins & Drives. Check out this episode, Southern to South American.
Now I already knew that Feijoada can have all kinds of meats, everything from heart to pig’s feet, tongue, to pork belly. What really sparked me though, was the sheer volume and kinds of meats in Boteca’s Feijoada. And they were all easy to find, easy to buy and no organ meat or tongue in sight. (Items like that have their place, but they’re not universally used or liked in the States, can be hard to find and often very pricey, but go for it if you want to.) And here it was, January, the month I always (at least attempt) to take stock of my freezer after the holiday! It made me look at Feijoada in a whole new way.
In went some smallish ribs, tips & trimmings left from my spareribs and tossed in the freezer (see photo, below), some burnt ends my son had bought over, a little leftover cooked & frozen pork shoulder (I would have used raw, cubed 1 1/2″ pork shoulder if I didn’t have that), some leftover brisket from a restaurant and a bit of pork belly (bacon is a good sub) that was admittedly a little dried out. In went some scrappy super sale beef short ribs I bought originally for my Beef Barley Soup. It was the random smoked sausage I pulled from the freezer (Brazillian sausage like Linguica would have been even better) that wasn’t even labeled (shame on me!) that was the best of all, and I wish I would have used more! I called for a little more in my recipe.
Basically it was a lot of odds and ends all tumbled (some were sauteed first and some added at the end) in the pot, along with the beans and aromatics, and the result was fabulous! What made this so doable for me was I made the Feijada based on the ingredients I had and/or I could easily get at a great price. Had I just decided to make Feijoado on any random day and shopped for the many “ingredients” used by Boteca, it would have cost a small fortune.
I urge you to do the same when you make Feijoada. Rather than religiously follow some recipe, even mine, get inspired. Think about Feijoada when you have leftover barbecue, think about it when you have a lot of random meats, smoked or not in small amounts or just a couple in larger amounts. Think about Feijoada when you clean out your freezer.
Or maybe just collect, over time, some of the items as you see them on sale (pork shoulder, sausages, beef chuck, short ribs) and/or toss items that are leftover (brisket, ribs, pulled pork) and freeze until you are ready for Feijoada day! I don’t think you can go wrong with just a couple or quite a few pork/beef items, some smoked, some not and nothing has to be set in stone. The meat with bones adds richness and you don’t want to miss out on the sausage, though.
Choose Your Meats:
You can use a little or a lot of meat in your Feijoada: The sausage is important and using meat with bones gives richness. Mix or match, I suggest a total of 1 1/2 to 2 pounds in addition to the sausage:
Raw meat to be seared and browned:
- bacon (diced)
- pork belly (small cubes)
- beef short ribs (smaller or cut in half)
- pork spare ribs or trimmings
- flank or chuck, 1 1/2″ cubes
- pork shoulder 1 1/2″ cubes
Raw Meat that can be added as is:
- heart, beef or chicken
- pigs feet and/or ears
Dried, Cured and/or Smoked Meats:
- smoked sausage, various kinds can be used including linguica (Brazilian sausage), garlicky smoked sausage is nice. I’d suggest staying away from specific flavor profiles of other countries, like Italian sausage.
- Carne Seca (Brazilian dried beef)
- smoked ribs, preferable several bones together
- smoked (pulled) pork (place in aluminum foil packet)
- burnt ends (place in aluminum foil packet)
- smoked brisket (if sliced, place in aluminum foil packet) or use chunks, maybe 2″ or so
Shortcut Instant Pot Brazilian Feijoada:
When Fernando Marri cooked on his food truck, he had a smart move. He was using a garlic/onion paste he’d made to cook just about everything.
I had to guess at the proportions and made way too much initially; judging by what was left, for all the dishes I used a small head of garlic, pressed and 1/2 of a small onion. I tossed both in my food processor with a little olive oil, just enough to get it going, a tablespoon or so to make the paste. That flavored my “fake Farova”, the Brazillian Style Collard Greens, and the Feijoada.
If you are making the Feijoada only, omit the paste. Just use the onion called for in the recipe and about 2/3 of a small head of garlic.
Making Instant Pot Brazilian Feijoada:
For best results, sort, rinse and brine the black beans overnight (see my post on Brining Beans for more information.) To maintain the color of the dish, you’ll use both the beans and the soaking liquid. Some people use unsoaked beans in the Instant pot; I rarely do, the results are almost always iffy, with uneven cooking.
Since the amount and shape of the meats used can vary, a full pound of beans may not fit in the Instant Pot; only about 3/4’s of a pound went in mine. I’d suggest brining the full pound; if you don’t use all of them, cook them off later (about 20 minutes high pressure) and use them for something else or label and freeze them.
Normally, I brown my items in the Instant Pot; this time I pulled out my large 14″ saute pan, which is so much easier to work with and seared and browned up everything that wasn’t smoked or already cooked in batches, After everything was browned, in went the onion, which did a pretty good job deglazing; I did add a touch of water, then a big dollop of the garlic paste. You can brown in the IP but the curved bottom and small surface area means smaller batches, a lot of tending and it will have to be thoroughly deglazed in order to avoid a burn notice. It’s easier, in this case, to use the saute pan and transfer each batch to the Instant Pot as it is done.
Once browned, into the IP went the meats except for the pulled pork and brisket, then the beans and soaking liquid (watch the level and use enough liquid to cover by two inches, and then nestled on top, in a sealed aluminum packet so it could warm but wouldn’t dissolve away to shreds, the brisket and pulled pork. That was gently mixed in later after the 25 minutes time on high pressure was up.
Honestly, it was really an easy dish to make in the Instant Pot and not an all-day affair like the stovetop version I’ve made before! And I don’t think I mentioned that Fernando Marri made his in an ancient-looking stovetop pressure cooker, which inspired me!
Note on Beans:
Normally Black Beans are a more tender bean and cook up easily, especially when brined. If your beans aren’t perfectly tender (test from several areas) at 25 minutes, close it back up immediately, it will come right back up to heat, and add a couple of minutes.
If there is still an issue, you may have really old beans. Try adding in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and bring back up to pressure. In this case, you may need to add a little extra water. It’s all a judgment call with old beans.
Saving Money on Instant Pot Brazilian Feijoada:
I already talked so much about saving money on the meats; If you don’t have stashes of this and that in your freezer (and why not?) look for what you’d like to use on sale. Pork shoulder goes on deep sale in the fall and around any holiday when hams are normally featured.
Pick up several for your freezer and break some of them down into two to three-pound sizes for when you don’t want to cook a whole big huge one. I find short ribs, always the scrappy ones often deeply slashed, often unadvertised. And I mentioned sausages already. They’re a great thing to have stashed away in the freezer for so many quick meals.
Beans aren’t pricey to begin with, especially the dried but you might very well find them on special, again, around any holiday that features ham and often unadvertised. Take a peek down the aisle the week before, the week of and the week after Mother’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Stock up.
Leftover Instant Pot Brazilian Feijoada:
This makes a good amount, so it’s fabulous for a big dinner or a party. If you have leftovers, Feijoada is even better the next day. If you are using fattier meats like short ribs, do pull any remaining and strip them of any excess fat and bone before refrigerating; the fat in those shortribs congeals once cold and isn’t very attractive to eat when reheated.
Never place a large, hot pot of heavy, dense food like this in the fridge; divide into several small containers so it cools quickly. Reheat gently, preferably in a pan on the stove, adding water as necessary.
In my family, if faced with a lot of leftovers, I find dividing and leaving some for the next day and freezing the rest guarantees we won’t tire of them. Feijoada freezes well. Freeze in sizes your family will use, from cool, allow space at the top of the container or place in Ziplocs and make sure to label.
So however you make your Feijoada, I’d love to hear about it and I’d love to know if you liked it as much as we did!
Instant Pot Brazilian Feijoada
- Prep Time: 20 minutes + overnight soak or quick soak of beans
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes + soak
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
- Category: Pork Main Dish
- Cuisine: Brazilian
For the Black Beans:
- 1 pound dried beans, sorted and rinsed
- water to cover by two inches
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon oil (Instant Pot only)
For the garlic/onion paste:
- 1 head garlic, pressed
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- a tablespoon or two of olive oil
For the Feijoada:
- 2 to 4 tablespoons lard, drippings or oil, as needed
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds (amount is a suggestion) of smoked and/or raw meats, pork and/or beef (see section on Meat in the post)
- 12 ounces to 1 pound smoked sausage (linguica sausage if you can find it) cut in slices at an angle about 3/4’s inch thick
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2/3rds of the garlic/onion paste (see note)
- 1 pound (or as much as will fit dried & brined black beans) and most of the soaking liquid (see instructions)
- Salt to taste
- 2 to 3 oranges, sliced
- parsley, chopped and mild red peppers (piquillo if available) sliced as garnish
- hot sauce to pass
- suggested sides
Note on garlic/onion paste: The paste flavors several dishes. If making Feijoada only, just press about 2/3’rds of a head of garlic and use instead of paste.
For the Black Beans:
The long soaking overnight brine is recommended. There may be too many beans to fit safely in the Instant Pot depending on the amount of meat used.
- Long Soak Method (overnight): Dissolve salt in water, add beans and cover. Let sit overnight on counter or if worried about fermentation, in the refrigerator.
- Quick Soak Method, Stovetop: Dissolve salt in water in a large pan or Dutch oven. Add beans. Bring to a boil, boil one minute, then turn off the heat and cover the beans. Let sit for one hour.
- Quick Soak Method, Instant Pot: Add beans to Instant Pot. Add water to cover by two inches. Add salt and oil and stir. Seal Instant Pot and set to High Pressure, 2 minutes. When finished let the steam out carefully in short bursts. If anything other than steam comes out or if there is foam or sputtering, stop and wait for 30 seconds, then restart.
Do not drain beans after brining.
For the garlic/onion paste:
Add onion and garlic to a food processor or blender and pulse. Add olive oil while running until mixture forms a paste, stopping to scrape down as needed. Remove to a bowl to flavor the meats, the Feijoada and the Brazilian Style Collard Greens.
For the Feijoada:
It is highly suggested to brown any meats and saute onions and garlic paste in a large skillet rather than the Instant Pot.
Heat skillet with desired fat over medium-high heat. Working with a tablespoon or two of oil in the skillet and adding more as necessary, add in batches, any uncooked meats, browning well on all sides. Remove to Instant Pot. Add sausage and cook until browned, turning as necessary, remove to Instant Pot. Add in the onion, stirring, removing any coloration from the bottom of the pan. Add a little water if necessary. When onion is softened, add in about 2/3rds of the garlic/onion paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the raw flavor is lost, a minute or two. Remove to the Instant Pot. Add to the Instant Pot any smoked meats like smoked ribs, if using.
Drain the beans, reserving the soakig liquid. Add the beans to the Instant Pot, but use no more than will go over by about an inch, the 1/2 way mark on the Instant Pot. Reserve any additional beans for another use. (See notes under Making Feijoada in the blog post). Add the soaking liquid to cover the beans by two inches.
If using any soft, cooked or smoked meats like sliced brisket or pulled pork, seal them in a packet and place on top of beans.
Seal the Instant Pot and set to High Pressure, 25 minutes. When finished, allow to go to Keep Warm for ten minutes, then Quick Release pressure manually in spurts, stopping about every minute, then proceeding. Test beans from several areas. If not completely cooked, remove the foil packet of meats (if used) reseal and set for five more minutes. Again Quick Release in spurts. If at any point during the release, anything other than steam comes from the valve, stop, let the pot rest for a minute, then proceed.
Open the foil packet and add the meats along with any juices, gently stirring in. Taste for salt.
Garnish with parsley, orange slices and slices of pepper. Serve with rice, Vinegar Tomato Salad, Brazillian Style Collards, and Farofa. Pass hot sauce.
Normally, in the Instant Pot, beans are not to go past the 1/2 way mark; because this dish includes so many other items, an inch or so over should be just fine. Watch the level closely.
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Beans, Beef, black beans, Boteca, Diners Drive Ins and Dives, Orange, Pork, Pork Shoulder Recipe, ribs, Sausage, short ribs