“There are various theories as to the origin of feijoada. Some believe it was created by African- Brazilians during colonial times using leftovers from animal parts; others believe the dish was inspired by European meat and bean stews; and still others say that feijoada first became popular in the favelas (shantytowns) of Rio. Today the origin of feijoada means little to most modern cariocas, but has become a habit on some Saturdays and a desperate craving on others.
Saturdays in Rio were made for feijoada. Every Saturday, Hotel Caesar Park serves a stunning version, with various meats presented in many cauldrons, the clay pots that are just as characteristic of the dish as the dish itself, and which lend an earthy taste to the food. A feijoada includes everything your mother ever told you to trim from a piece of meat and move to the side of your plate. This is a dish of bold temptation and prompt surrender for carnivores. It’s hard to eat with much finesse around glistening pounds of pork butt, ham hocks, pig’s ears, and carne seca (dried meat). And that’s one of the things I love most about this dish: you can see into people’s inner personalities when they eat it.” -Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz
If using carne seca, rinse it under cold running water, place it in a bowl, cover with water, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, changing the water at least 3 times. Drain the carne seca and discard the water.
Place all the meats in a large pot and add water to cover by 1 inch.
Place over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 to 11/2 hours. The meats will be done at different times; check frequently, and, using a slotted spoon, transfer each meat to a bowl as it’s done and cover with foil to keep it moist.
You are looking for the meat to be tender, but keep in mind that it will be cooking for another hour or so with the black beans.
Place the beans in a large pot or pressure cooker. Add about 6 quarts of water, cover the pot or lock the pressure cooker, and cook until the beans are cooked through but not mushy (11/2 hours for a pot, 30 minutes for a pressure cooker). Reserve the beans and water in the pot.
In a very large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook until it just starts to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the onion and scallions and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, season with salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and nutmeg, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Pour the beans and all the liquid into the pot with the vegetables.
Add the meats and any juices that have accumulated. Bring to a simmer over low heat and simmer gently, checking frequently, making sure the liquid level is just right, not too soupy, not too dry. Continue cooking until the flavors meld together, 1 to 1/2 hours. While the feijoada is cooking, prepare the rice, collard greens, and roasted manioc flour.
Wash the rice in cold water several times going back and forth between a bowl and a colander, until the water becomes fairly clear. Let the rice sit in the colander to air dry for 5 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat, add the onion, and cook until it just starts to become fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until the grains are covered in fat and shiny. Add 3 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt and partially cover the pan.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
Trim the stems and thick center ribs from the collard greens and discard them. Stack a few leaves and roll them tightly into a cigar shape.
Cut into very thin strips crosswise and place the strips in a bowl. Repeat with the remaining leaves. You should have between 2 and 3 packed cups total. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Add about 1 tablespoon salt, then add the collard greens and blanch for 30 to 60 seconds, until wilted. Drain, transfer to an ice bath to cool, then drain again.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes.
Add the collard greens (you might need to do this in batches) and stir to coat them in the oil. Season with salt and pepper, add about 1/4 cup water, and cook until the greens are soft but still bright green, about 3 minutes.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the manioc flour and toast, stirring constantly, until it is a light golden color, 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully, as the flour can turn easily. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the toasted manioc flour. Season with salt and pepper, pour into a serving dish, and garnish with the reserved scallions. Place a mound of rice on a plate; ladle the beans with meats on top. Add the toasted manioc flour and collard greens alongside, and garnish with the fresh cilantro and parsley and navel oranges.