This dish is meat lover's heaven. Regarded as Brazil's national dish, it is traditionally prepared with black beans, an assortment of pork trimmings(head, trotters, tails, ears, tongue), salted pork ribs, smoked bacon, jerked beef, and a combination of at least two types of smoked sausage. Just imagine all those flavors coming together!
For this adaptation, I used fresh pork ribs, smoked bacon, and smoked sausage in addition to the dried black beans. I guess the dish still deserves to be called Feijoada as it basically still is a stew of feijao, which is the Portuguese term for beans.
Choosing dried black beans instead of its canned counterpart, though significantly less convenient, would make so much difference, so take this into consideration. Though totally possible, using canned varieties would not yield that much of a dark color and body to the finished broth which is characteristic to this dish. Aside from black beans, which some of you may not like, using other types would taste equally well. Doing so just won't yield that dark purplish broth this dish is known for.
Start the dried beans ahead by soaking them in cold water overnight. This would tenderize their shells making the process of cooking them considerably quicker. If possible, change the soaking water a couple of times to get rid of any unwanted dirt and debris.
Get them in the slow cooker ahead of the meat as it would take longer to tenderize them. It would be advisable to include the aromatics (onions and garlic) at this stage to get the most of their flavor. Don't add any seasoning yet. Salt will cause the skin of the beans to toughen, resulting into a much longer needed cooking time.
I used fresh pork ribs instead of what should traditionally be of a salted variety simply because I could not find any. Go ahead and make your own substitutions as you wish but keep in mind that those rib bones will add so much flavor to your broth. If you happen to find salted pork ribs, be sure to soak and rinse them well with water to avoid the finished dish from tasting too salty. Feel free to use any type of smoked sausage or a combination of your favorites too. Just go for smoky flavored ones as this is the flavor we're looking for.
After about 4 hours on high, the beans should now be slightly tender. Time to add in the meat so they both finish cooking at the same time. Sausages are served on the side with this stew in some traditional preparations. Some though include them in the cooking, a method which imparts so much more flavor to the stew and one I actually prefer.
This meal is typically eaten with rice and an accompaniment of sauteed greens (such as kale), and orange slices which are believed to aid digestion when consuming this heavy meat dish. Personally though, I just enjoy digging into those ribs while slurping on that very rich broth.