FABADA HEAVEN & DIRTY RICE



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 sooth 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!

FABADA ASTURIANA

This is my very simple and easy version of this Spanish Classic.

Ingredients:            serves 6

1kg            white butter beans (fabes)
500ml chicken stock
3            uncooked chorizos
3            Morcilla (black puddings)
300g            streaky bacon, diced
1            onion (finely chopped)
3            garlic cloves (crushed)

Place the white beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.
Leave to soak overnight. 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. 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 neccesary.
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.

WHITE BEANS WITH FRESH CLAMS AND SAFFRON
FABADA DE ALMEJAS
This is a much healthier version with saffron and fresh clams.
Ingredients Serves 4

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

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.

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.

In a pestle and mortar, crush the remaining garlic cloves with the saffron and breadcrumbs to form a paste. Remove the beans from the heat and stir in the breadcrumb mixture and the chopped parsley. Season to taste and serve immediately.


ARROZ BRUT

Majorcan cuisine is very robust and has its roots firmly planted in rustic, peasant fare. One of my favourites is “Arroz Brut”. Literally translated as dirty rice, it’s a delicious broth cooked in an earthenware pot with rice, rabbit, pork, vegetables and a few snails thrown in for good measure. It’s also the perfect winter warmer!
This recipe is from my Modern Mediterranean Cookbook and is simple version with rabbit, quail and butifarron(local sausage) but you can substitute with chicken, pork or game when in season. Add a few snails if you want it to be really authentic!   

Ingredients                        Serves 6

100ml olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp paprika                   
1 large pinch saffron
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground nutmeg
300g bomba rice or any short grain rice
300g mixed wild mushrooms
500g rabbit, cut into pieces
2.5l chicken stock (bouillon)
1  butifarron (black pudding), sliced
250g fresh peas
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and gently cook for about 2 minutes, without colouring. Stir through the garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, tomatoes, paprika and saffron and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Add the wild mushrooms, rabbit, quails and chicken stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the rice, peas, butifarron and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Use a ladle to skim off any fat and impurities that rise to the surface during cooking. Season with salt and pepper, add the chopped parsley, pour into a soup tureen and serve at the table.

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