Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Wintry Iberic-ness

I am making a GREAT classic of Northern Spanish cuisine in my Crock-PotTM. I can freely use that because my slow-cooker turns out to be an official Crock-PotTM slow cooker.

Anyway, because I aim to benefit humanity in all I ever do I am posting probably the oldest recipe in our family, one dating back well over a coupla hunnerd years: Fabada.

Fabada derives its name from the type of bean used, called "Fabes." You will not find this bean (at least not reasonably priced) anywhere outside of Spain. So don't even bother to go look for it. What you want is the largest white bean you can get, but not lima beans or butterbeans. Canellini beans are what I use for everyday.

And so, the recipe (this is as still made by my great-aunt Maria Cristina, sans the slow-cooker):

2 1/4 lb./1 kg of fabes
1/4 lb./200gm Spanish NOT MEXICAN chorizo (I like the Palacios brand, but Goya is workable) 1/4 lb./200gm morcilla ("black pudding") or just go w. 1/2 lb. chorizo
1/4 lb./200gm unsmoked ham (something like domestic prosciutto is ideal) cubed 1/2" x 1/2" (1cm x 1cm)
1 medium yellow onion
1 pinch of saffron (OPT)
1 tsp. of smoked sweet Spanish paprika (also called "pimenton dulce ahumado" and it's OK if you don't find any that's actually Spanish, just as long as it's smoked and NOT the hot stuff you'll be fine)
1/4 lb./200gm unsmoked bacon (think pancetta) is optional.
1 quart/liter Ham stock (from a couple of ham hocks -- OPT, but so-o-o-o-o-o desirable...chicken stock or broth or even water will work, but stocks contribute a bit of gelatin that makes this all unctuous and yummy...add water to come up to the correct amount)
Salt to taste (if you use stock, be CAREFUL with the salt!)
[Basically you want a 3:1 or so ratio of beans to porky goodness, in whatever proportions suit you. Oh, and trivia factoid: the combination of porcine goodies is called "compango" in Spanish.]
Soak the beans overnight.

(This part can me made wa-a-a-a-ay ahead) Put in the chorizo (and any bacon-like whatever) in a pot over low heat with a bit of water, and render out its fat. Pour off most of it. Add ham, morcilla, diced onion and cook until the onions are translucent. Add saffron/paprika and let cool.
This "base" will keep a week in the fridge and damned near forever in the freezer.

Drain the beans, put them along with the porkified base in a stock pot and cover them with stock/water over medium low heat or in the CrockPotTM on "high" for a couple of hours.

Turn the heat to low. Let cook a couple of hours and then mash some of the white beans against the side of the pot. Stir and reduce heat to "warm" until dinner time. It's even better the next day.


P.S. You may want to skim the orange chorizo fat...but not ALL of it, as its presence is crucial for flavor...but a little goes a long way.


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