Last summer I was totally knocked up and not good for much. Thank god I still had the presence of mind to a) grow a vegetable garden that included scarlet runner beans and b) utilize some of October’s nesting instinct to harvest all of the beans and dry them instead of squandering all that precious energy on retarded shit like vacuuming all of the lampshades.
Scarlet runners (Phaseolus coccineus) are one of my favorite garden plants. I’ve been growing them for awhile, both for their beauty and their flavor. Hummingbirds love them (in flower), and they make a tasty alternative to flagiolets for cassoulet. They resemble a butter bean or a cranberry bean in flavor, but for this application – in fact, Brazil’s answer to cassoulet – I was shooting for a more fashionable alternative to a black bean.
Feijoada is the national dish of Brazil, but variations exist in Portugal as well. Brought to the country by slaves, it traditionally uses black beans and less-popular cuts of pork such as snouts, ears, and trotters. As is typical of peasant fare, the dish has evolved over the years to include a wider variety of meats (depending on the cook and the country in which she lives), though still primarily features pork products cooked with black beans. Mine uses smoky piggy meats such as linguiça sausage and smoked ham shank, a Mexican langoniza (like chorizo, but with beef and pork), bacon and corned beef brisket (looked for carne seca, but was unsuccessful).
Since mine had only been dried for a few months, they didn’t need much soak. I let them sit long enough for the skins to wrinkle, though I could’ve left them overnight. I didn’t see the need, though, since I was planning on using a pressure cooker for at least part of the cooking. I think I probably had about 2 or 3 cups of dried beans all together (they filled a pickle jar 3/4 of the way).
I heated my large crockpot over medium-high heat and added 1/4 lb of bacon, one whole linguiça sausage, 1/2 lb of langoniza (left whole) and a 1/2 lb corned beef brisket (without the corning spices) placed fat side down to render out that tasty fat. Meanwhile, I chopped a large onion and minced 4 cloves of garlic and added them to the pot to brown in the rendered fat. I tossed in 4 bay leaves and a dried red chile and then the beans, the ham shank and about 3 or 4 cups of water (I didn’t think to measure). You really don’t need to add any salt because the meats contribute plenty, but besides that, salt toughens the beans and stalls cooking. You can always season at the end if your arteries really need a stiffy.
I cooked the whole lot at between 10 and 15 psi for about 30-45 minutes, until the beans were tender and the ham shredded off the bone. The beef should be tender enough to yield to the slight pressure of a knife; slice it and the sausages into thick slices and luxuriantly drape the meats over the beans.