The rise of the churrasco craze has given people a narrow, if somewhat authentic, view of Brazilian food. There are, indeed, a lot of churrascarias in Brazil—though in my five trips there I’ve yet to see a red-and-green block that you position according to how hungry you are. You can eat all the grilled chicken hearts you want, but until you’ve had rice and beans made by a Brazilian, you haven’t truly sampled the cuisine.
I used to think beans needed salt pork or ham hocks to come out right. Not so. Beans are just as delicious with no meat at all. I imagine there may come a time when you don’t even need beans to make beans–just air and a discerning palette. In the mean time, here’s my world-famous recipe for beans.
1) Rinse some dry beans and soak them over night in a large saucepan. The beans expand as they absorb water, so while it’s difficult to know how many you should soak, you can be pretty sure you’re soaking too many. That’s okay, they’re cheap. Some people say you need to sort the dry beans for rocks prior to rinsing, but I prefer to simply buy “rock-free” brands and gamble with my very life.
2) After soaking, drain the beans and replace the water with fresh, then boil them for about five minutes, removing the white scum that forms on top. I like to believe the white scum contains extra fart-producing elements. I have no scientific basis for believing so, but you’ll want to scrape it off anyway because it looks gross.
3) Dump the beans and hot water into a slow cooker (i.e. Crock-Pot®) with half a diced onion and one or two cloves of crushed garlic, then let it cook on high for about five hours. The longer beans cook, they softer they become. Don’t add salt while they’re cooking. Salt lowers the boiling temperature of the water and will cause your beans to cook less quickly. It will also inevitably lead to somebody bitching about how salty they are. It’s best to just salt them to taste once they’re in the bowl.
I like to eat my beans with a little shredded cheddar cheese, and sometimes with some red or green chile. When it’s time to put the leftover beans away, let them cool off to room temperature without a lid before sticking them in the refrigerator. This guards against a disgusting aroma your beans might otherwise develop.
I think my house is haunted. I keep hearing sounds behind me, but when I turn around there’s no one there. Just a terrible smell.