If ever there was a Portuguese comfort food, Feijão Assado is it for me! This recipe has been passed down in my family for generations and it is something that I come back to time and time again. I have memories throughout my whole life of my Vavó and my Mom making Feijão Assado and Soupa de Feijão (Bean Soup) for family dinners, parties and holiday celebrations. Because the time to initially soak and cook the beans can take some time they would always cook the two together reserving half the beans for the soup and the other half for the baked beans. The Soupa de Feijão recipe is coming this fall, but for now we will focus on this warm, creamy savory comfort food.
I’ve called it Portuguese Baked Pork and Beans instead of just Portuguese Baked Beans because I have made this into the main course for our supper tonight by adding not only salt pork and a little bit of chouriço, but a whole pound of chouriço. My grandmother would never have put an entire pound of chouriço in anything, she always said that chouriço was just added to recipes for the taste. So, as I write out the recipe tutorial I will note the adjustment should you chose to go the traditional route.
This dish and a nice fresh portuguese roll is a filling, balanced and super nutritious meal. However, as I mentioned, you can also bring it as a great party food or pot luck contribution and really get people talking! Often times, if I am throwing a dinner party where I am serving roast pork or pork chops I will make this to go along side. I’ve also known Feijão Assado to make a great breakfast food. Whichever way you decide to make it, try it out soon because it really is a very different way to eat your beans.
I use while nave beans for this recipe because my Vavó always said the smaller the white bean the better. This is your basic one pound package.
Fill a 6 cup bowl about 3/4 of the way with water… this may seem a bit big, but these beans absorb almost all this water over night.
As you can see the beans are way down at the bottom of the bowl. You may be tempted to add salt at this point, avoid that temptation! White beans actually absorb water without salt, not sure why, but they do. You’ll have plenty of time to flavor later.
Cover it up and let stand over night at least 6-8 hours or up to 12 hours.
And there it is… look how they have plumped up!
Now you will want to start this next step with fresh water. So drain off the beans, this also gets rid of any residual dirt… if you want to rinse your beans and pick through, now would be a good time for that as well.
Then, cut a medium onion in half and add it into the water.
Peel three garlic cloves and add those in too… The onions and garlic really flavor the beans while they are cooking, but you are still not adding in salt.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once you have a boil going, lower the heat and continue to boil until beans are tender (about an hour and a half).
When beans are tender, shut off the flame. NOW you can finally add in a pinch of salt… not too much, just a pinch.
This is a good view of how tender the beans are. You want them naturally breaking up a bit.
Drain most of the water from the beans. Don’t worry about the onions and garlic, those will melt right into the dish.
You will want to reserve about one cup of the cooking liquid. This will help with keeping the beans moist while baking and it also helps to create the creamy texture.
Add in one small can of tomato sauce.
Salt… Be careful here, my Vavó always said salt adds flavor and it takes it away. So, start with 1/2 tsp and taste after you mix everything together. Both chouriço and the wet red pepper both have salt in them, so you don’t want to over do it. And remember you already added in a pinch.
One good chunk of salt pork or a couple of slices of thick cut bacon (not too smoky) or even pancetta would be nice here. I am adding mine in whole, my grandmother would chop it up, it’s up to you which you would like to do. I think it’s pretty in the center when it comes out of the oven.
One heaping tablespoon of wet red crushed pepper is next… if you only have dry, they just add in half as much.
Now just a pinch of Portuguese All Spice… If you don’t have access to this spice just add in a pinch of sweet paprika and you’ll be ok here.
Mix all together.
I like to peel the skin off my chouriço for easier eating, personal preference.
Slice it up. As I mentioned above, my grandmother would only have added half as much, this is totally up to you. Also, I should note that I am using hot chouriço, you can also use mild and be just fine. The flavor profile is the same save the heat factor.
Add your chourço into your bean mixture.
I bought a set of these beautiful baking dishes the last time I was in Portugal and pain stakingly brought them back to the states with me. It’s made of a traditional Azorean pottery. If you don’t have this dish, you can either use a 9×12″ stoneware dish or any regular baking dish will work.
Pour directly into your baking dish.
Pour directly into your baking dish.
As you can see, it still looks pretty soupy (like a thick soup), that’s perfect.
Be sure chouriço is evenly distributed. Bake at 375°F for 90 minutes.
Recipe for Portuguese Baked Pork and Beans (Feijão Assado):
1 lb. dry Navy beans, soaked 8-12 hrs.
1 lb. chouriço, peeled and sliced
1 small can tomato sauce
1 onion, peeled and chopped in half.
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 heaping Tbs. wet crushed red pepper (or half the amount of dry)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. Portuguese All Spice or paprika
1″ cut of salt pork (or three slices of thick cut bacon, non-smoky flavor)
Soak beans over night in plain water.
Drain beans. Cook beans in a soup pot with fresh water, onion and garlic. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat. Cook for 90 minutes or until beans are very tender. After cooking is complete, shut off flame add in a pinch of salt and allow to sit covered for about 20 mins.
Drain beans reserving one cup cooking water. Add in tomato sauce, salt, pepper, pork and chouriço. Mix together. Pour into a 9×12″ baking dish and bake at 375°F for 90 minutes.
*note – this is a gluten-free recipe.