To look good in their infamously skimpy bikinis, food-loving Brazilians must watch what they eat. So it is no surprise that in her recent cookbook, The Brazilian Kitchen, Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, who was raised in Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema, offers lighter versions of popular Brazilian dishes while still giving them alluring flavor.
“I fix the heaviness and use simple-to-find ingredients,” Schwartz says. Her interpretation of the stew called feijoada (fey-zhoo-ah-dah), an elemental dish of Brazil, is a perfect example. Instead of the fatty pork Brazilians normally use, Schwartz uses chicken. Skinless thighs are ideal, but I find bone-in breasts work well, too.
I also streamlined the cooking time in my version of Brazilian chicken and black beans by using canned beans rather than dried. In addition to saving time, this lets me prepare the dish to serve six rather than the huge potful that Schwartz cooks up to feed a crowd.
Brazilian Chicken and Black Bean Stew
(Makes 6 servings)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs with bone or skinless breast with ribs or combination
- ½ cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ¼ cups chopped onion
- ¾ cup chopped celery
- ¾ cup chopped green bell pepper
- ¾ cup chopped scallions, green and white parts
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 2 (15-ounce cans) black beans, rinsed and drained
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 large navel orange, cut in 6 wedges
- In large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, 4 minutes on each side. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Cover bowl with foil.
- Add broth to pot and scrape bottom of pot while boiling, gathering up all browned bits.
- Pour broth over chicken. Seal foil tightly over bowl and set chicken aside. Using paper towel, wipe out pot.
- Return pot to medium-high heat and add remaining oil. Add onion, celery, green pepper, and scallions to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add bay leaves and sprinkle nutmeg over vegetables. Arrange chicken pieces over vegetables, reserving liquid in bowl.
- Spread beans over chicken. Pour liquid from bowl over beans. Cover and simmer until chicken thighs are falling-apart tender, 30-35 minutes. If using breast, cook until white in center at thickest part, 20-25 minutes.
- To serve, divide chicken among 6 dinner plates. Remove bay leaf. Mix to combine beans and vegetables, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Spoon liquid from pot over chicken and ⅔ cup beans and vegetables alongside chicken. Garnish with parsley and orange wedges. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Leftovers keep in tightly covered container in refrigerator for 4 days.
Total fat: 10 g
Saturated fat: 1.5 g
Carbohydrate: 28 g
Fiber: 9 g
Protein: 32 g
Sodium: 180 mg