Sunday, October 27, 2013

Baião de dois - flavorful rice and beans dancing on your palate

More than twenty years ago, when I was living in Campinas, a city of Sao Paulo state, I used to sing in a Chorus called COCA - Coral Campinas - with my dear friend Ana Paula Gomes. It was my preferred activity of the week! One of the songs of our repertoire was this Baião de ninar, by Gerson:

“Este baião, eu inventei pra ninar
o meu amor num berço feito de raio de luar
baião, oi, de ninar, baião, oi, de ninar”
(Here’s a version by another Brazilian chorus:

Baião is both the name of a traditional Brazilian dance and the music that is played to rock the dancing couples, that hold each other very closely and move to the 2-bars beat all night long.
The name of this dish is an allusion to this engaging dance, but here, instead of a loving couple, the two quintessential ingredients of the Brazilian diet - rice and beans, cooked together and enhanced with a few or several delicious  ingredients, such as bacon, cheese, sausage, scrambled eggs and fresh cilantro (there are many variations throughout Brazil). But beware - very, very hard to stop eating!

The beans of choice for this recipe are the black eyed beans / peas. I found them fresh in my local supermarket, but you can also use canned, or cook your own at home. The difference is that when you use the beans cooking liquid to prepare the rice, the flavor of the finished dish is superior (and that gooey thing surrounding canned beans won’t do it. By the way, rinse them very well before adding to the pan.)

Baião de dois
(Dish of rice and beans cooked together)

1 lb (500 g) carne de sol / charque (Brazilian jerked beef)
12 oz (340 g / 2 cups) fresh (quick cooking) black eyed peas
3.5 oz (100 g / 3/4 cup) diced slab bacon
1 Tbsp (3 cloves) garlic, minced
7 oz (200 g / 1 cup) diced onion
2 cups white rice, uncooked
1/2 cup freshly chopped herbs (flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, chives)
1/2 cup diced queijo de coalho (or Finish-style baked cheese)
chili oil, to taste


1. Rinse the carne seca, cut into 0.5 in. cubes and soak in cold water for about 4 hours, changing the water every one hour. Cook in cold water, in a pressure cooker for about 30 minutes, or in a regular pan until tender (about 2 hours). Remove from the pan, reserving the liquid. Set aside.
2. Cook the beans in cold water for about 20 minutes, until tender, but firm to the bite. Drain, saving the cooking liquid, and set aside.
3. Heat a large saucepan and add the bacon. Cook until golden brown. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. Set aside.
4. Saute the onion in the hot bacon fat until light golden brown. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the cooked carne seca and the beans to the pan. Stir in the rice and approximately 3 1/2 cups of cooking liquid, starting with the beans liquid and complementing with the meat liquid. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, partially cover the pan and cook until the rice is al dente, adding more liquid as needed. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let rest for at least 5 mintues.
5. Fluff the rice with a fork, add chili oil to taste and stir in the chopped herbs and the diced cheese, being careful to not over stir it. Serve with sauteed collard greens, farinha de mandioca torrada (toasted manioc flour) and more hot pepper on the side.