Flavors of Brazil, I mentioned that the most famous dish on the menu at Fortaleza's Docentes & Decentes restaurant was a creamy dish of fresh black-eyed peas (feijão verde). It has been chosen a number of times and by a number of critics as the best version of this traditional dish to be found in the city's restaurants. The restaurant's logo even includes the phrase "o melhor feijão verde da cidade", which means "the city's best black-eyed peas."
Although the exact recipe used by Docentes & Decentes is a closely-guarded secret, the following recipe, translated and adapted from the Brazilian website Tudo Gostoso, is a very close approximation. The recipe calls for fresh black-eyed peas, but if you cannot find them, you can use a equal quantity of dried black-eyed peas that have been soaked in cold water for 24 hours to rehydrate them. The quantity of black-eyed peas should be measured from their reconstituted weight in this case, not from their dry weight.
RECIPE - Creamy Black-eyed Peas (feijão verde cremoso)
2 lbs (1 kg) fresh or rehydrated black-eyed peas
3 small sausages - linguica or chorizo-style, sliced thin
fried bacon to taste
2 Tbsp. neutral vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 small chili pepper - serrano or japaleno
2 cloves garlic,minced
1 sprig Italian parsley, minced
4 oz. (200 gr) cubed mozzarella cheese
1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1/2 cup Philadelphia-style cream cheese
salt to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 green onion, green portion only, minced
In a large heavy saucepan, place the peas and add cold water to cover by 2" (4 cm). Add one or two strips of bacon to the pot, then bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and cook over low heat until the peas are tender (about 30-60 minutes, depending on whether fresh peas are used, or the age of rehydrated peas). Remove from heat, remove the bacon,drain the peans and reserve.
In a small frying pan, fry the sausage slices until cooked through and browned.
In another heavy saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat, then add the chopped tomato, onion, garlic, chili pepper and parsley . (For a milder dish, leave the chili whole - for a spicier dish, seed the pepper, then chop before adding to the pot.) Saute this mixture until the onions and garlic are transparent but not browned and all the other ingredients are softened. Add the drained peas and sausage slices.
Stir in the sour cream and mozzarella and mix completely. Taste for salt and add if necessary. Remove from heat and let cool.
Put the pea and cheese mixture into a ceramic or glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is hot, bubbling, and beginning to brown on top. Remove from over, sprinkle grated parmesan and chopped green onion on top, then serve immediately in baking dish.