Pork and bean stew (feijoada assado)

Even the most basic of Portuguese cookery will make you feel like a supremely talented cook. The same can be said of much of South American cookery. Rarely do these cuisines call for complicated techniques or a lengthy list of ingredients. This is an honest way to cook, using a few simple key ingredients and will unlock the door to big, hearty flavours and comfort food like no other.

Ingredients:

2 pork hocks
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 white onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
125ml (½ cup) white wine
500g ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
300g (1½ cups) dried white (cannellini) beans

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Wash the pork hocks and pat dry
with paper towel. Rub 1 teaspoon of the salt over the pork.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based flameproof casserole dish over high heat. Sit the pork hocks in the dish, side by side, and cook for 10-12 minutes, turning the pork often, until the skin is well browned. Remove the pork from the dish and set aside.

3. Add the onions, carrots, garlic and bay leaf to the dish, stirring to combine and remove any bits stuck to the bottom of the dish. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened.

4. Pour in the wine and stir again to remove any stuck-on bits, and cook for 1 minute.

5. Stir in the tomatoes, paprika, white beans and remaining teaspoon of salt.

6. Return the pork hocks to the dish and add 1.5 litres (6 cups) water. Nuzzle the pork hocks in the dish, so the white beans are evenly spread around them.

7. Bring everything to the boil, then cover with a tight-fitting lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 3 hours. Remove from the oven and leave to rest, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

Tips:

If chilli is your thing, add 1 teaspoon chilli powder, cayenne pepper or chilli flakes when you add the paprika to the dish. To freshen things up a little, roughly chop a few handfuls of coriander (cilantro) leaves and stir them into the stew just before serving.

This is an edited extract from Tuck In: Good Hearty Food Any Time by Ross Dobson, Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99.

Photo credit: Steve Brown