The Washington Post

Danila’s Brazilian-Style Beans

Danila’s Brazilian-Style Beans 4.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Jun 6, 2018

Food writer Sara Franklin became a true bean lover while traveling and working in Brazil for a year in her 20s, when she learned to cook the country’s feijão. In Brazil, beans are cooked every which way, but this is the most basic and ubiquitous — a soupy vegetarian bean preparation typically served over white rice as a side. Though she has eaten beans like this more times than she can count, Franklin says, it took hiring her beloved Brazilian babysitter, Danila, for her to learn to prepare them herself.

Pressure cookers are essential household tools in Brazil; the national lunch bell is the sound of the pots “singing” as hot steam escapes through a narrow valve. For anyone who cooks beans with any regularity, she recommends investing in one; they keep beans from being an all-day process and may result in more even tenderness throughout the legumes and a creamier texture.

To read the accompanying story, see: No courses, no assigned seats, no hassles: How I throw a dinner party.

Make Ahead: The dried beans need to be soaked (overnight method used in testing here). If you’re using “fresh” dried beans, (Rancho Gordo pinto, pinquito, tepary and vaquero all work particularly nicely here) or dry beans you’ve purchased at a farmers market, pre-soaking is unnecessary.

4 first-course servings or 8 side-dish servings

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 first-course servings or 8 side-dish servings

  • 1 pound dried beans of your choice (small brown or black beans are most common in Brazil; see headnote)
  • Canola or grapeseed oil (or other neutrally flavored oil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooked rice, for serving


Place the dried beans in a large bowl, cover with 3 to 4 inches of cool water. Cover and soak overnight (at room temperature).

Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with fresh water. Place them in a pressure cooker and add enough water to cover them by several inches. Secure the lid and cook over medium-high heat until the pressure cooker begins to “sing,” then reduce the heat to medium-low heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat, allow the pressurized steam to escape, then unfasten the lid and check for doneness; you want your beans to be very tender and quite creamy. If they need more time, return the lid and cook on medium-low, checking every 10 minutes for doneness.

Add enough oil just to coat the bottom of a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, until golden. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beans from the pressure cooker to the pot, along with enough of the bean cooking liquid to come just to the level of the beans. Toss in the bay leaves and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Discard the remaining bean cooking liquid.

Taste, and add salt, as needed (these beans are typically quite salty). Discard the bay leaves.

Serve hot, over rice.

Recipe Source

From food writer Sara Franklin.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 8, using 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon salt): 200

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 2g 3%

Saturated Fat: 0g 0%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 140mg 6%

Total Carbohydrates: 36g 12%

Dietary Fiber: 14g 56%

Sugar: 8g

Protein: 12g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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