Grace Parisi's Feijoada
My old Brazilian nanny, feeling displaced and perpetually homesick (Brazilians call it saudade), would only crack a smile when I made Brazil's national dish feijoada, which, for the sake of my family's happiness, turned out to be a weekly occurrence. It's a hearty stew made with black beans, pork shoulder, carne seca (dried beef like beef jerky), linguiça calabresa (a pork sausage like kielbasa) and hunks of slab bacon. It's quite a project—one that I reserve for the weekend. But saudade doesn't differentiate between weekday and weekend, so I found myself making a fast version. I like to use canned beans, serrano ham, prosciutto or bresaola (Italian air-dried beef) because it most closely approximates carne seca's slightly-gamey, meaty flavor.