Miserable weather calls for desperate measures. It’s a time to indulge in heart-warming dishes designed to keep out the cold; simple recipes to revive flagging spirits and jaded palates, especially when the rain is pouring down as it has been this week. Most times when I cook at home, I love to throw everything into one pot and place it in the middle of the table for serving. It not only saves on the washing-up but it also helps to stimulate and heighten your senses so you can enjoy your meal even more. One-pot dishes are real comfort food at this time of the year, winter warmers that sooth the soul. The Spanish of a great variety of one pot dishes called “potajes”. One of the most revered is known as “Fabada”. This is a traditional and hearty white bean stew from the northern Spanish region of Asturias. Particularly popular during the colder months, it is traditionally eaten with crusty bread and a glass of Asturian cider. Good quality chorizo and morcilla (black pudding) is the key to a great fabada, and if you can find cured or smoked pork belly, even better!
I’m a big fan of dried white beans and the key to success is in how you treat them. Be sure to soak them in cold water overnight before cooking. As well as starting the rehydration process, this helps to eliminate any impurities that can make them difficult to digest. As you cook beans, a white scum often floats to the surface; skim this off with a slotted spoon. Do not add salt until the end of cooking as salt has a hardening effect: it toughens the skin and stops the inside from becoming tender. This hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don’t forget the crusty bread and cider!
This is my very simple and easy version of this Spanish Classic.
1 Place the white beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak overnight.
2 The next morning, drain the beans and cover with the chicken stock and a little cold water. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat to gentle simmer.
3 Remove any scum from the surface and add the streaky bacon, onions and garlic and cook slowly with a lid on for about 35-40 minutes or until the beans are cooked and soft. Add a little more cold water if necessary.
4 Poach the chorizos and black puddings in water for about 10 minutes. Drain and cut into slices then add them to the beans. Season and serve immediately.
Fillet of Salt Cod in a Black Olive crust with Chorizo & White beans
6 x 150g fillets of salt cod (de-salted) 12 thin slices of chorizo
1 To make the crust, place all the ingredients in a liquidizer and blend to a puree.
2 Place a spoonful of black olive puree on the top of the salt cod fillets. Using a palette knife, smooth over to form a thin layer of crust. Reserve in the fridge until needed.
3 For the stew, place the white beans, chopped tomatoes, garlic cloves, bay leaves, saffron and fresh thyme in a large saucepan and cover them with fish stock. Bring slowly to the boil, cover with a lid and cook slowly for 30-40 minutes. Add a little more water if necessary.
4 Remove the beans from the heat and stir in the olive oil and chopped parsley. Season to taste.
5 To serve, place the salt cod fillets under a hot grill and cook for 6-8 minutes until just cooked. Place a couple of large spoonfuls of the white beans in the centre of 6 of warm soup bowls.
6 Place the cod fillets on top and garnish with chorizo slices and fresh herbs. Serve immediately.
White beans with fresh Clams & Saffron "Fabada de Almejas"
This is a much healthier version with saffron and fresh clams.
200g dried white beans (soaked overnight)
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1kg fresh clams, cleaned 400ml fish stock (bouillon)
1 tsp saffron
2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 large onion, finely chopped
100ml olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Place the white beans, bay leaves, thyme and 1 garlic clove in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30–40 minutes.
2 In a separate saucepan, bring the fresh clams and fish stock (bouillon) to the boil and cook for 2–3 minutes until the clams have opened (discard any that remain closed). Pour the cooked clams and stock into the pan with the cooked beans.
3 In a pestle and mortar, crush the remaining garlic cloves with the saffron and breadcrumbs to form a paste.
4 Remove the beans from the heat and stir in the breadcrumb mixture and the chopped parsley. Season to taste and serve immediately.
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