As the winter starts to kick in and the chilly weather begins to bite, it’s a time to indulge in a few heart-warming dishes designed to keep out the cold and to revive flagging spirits and jaded palates when there’s a little chill in the air.
If I’m cooking 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 really soothe the soul. The Spanish have invented 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! If using dried white beans, 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 later. 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!