|Margarita's International Recipes|
The "fabada" or bean stew is the most traditional of Asturian dishes. It's hearty, filling and a great favorite in the region. I don't eat beans myself, but I felt that I had to cook it as no exploration into Asturian food would be meaningful without it. It proved to be the right choice, as my dinner guests enjoyed it very much.
There is some variation on recipes and methods for making "fabada," but most recipes I found include the same ingredients and similar preparation methods. Most recipes call for Asturian beans, but as these are difficult to find in the US (though you can try the The Spanish Table, they didn't have them when I went shopping for them), you may have to substitute with large white beans. You can see the picture of the ones I used below.
Most fabadas include the same meat ingredients: Spanish chorizos, blood sausages, jamón serrano (mountain ham), "lacón" and pancetta. When I made the fabada I excluded the blood sausages and the "lacón". None of my guests liked blood sausages, and I saw no reason for cooking them if no one was going to eat them. My problem with the "lacón" was different: I could not figure out what it was. I saw it described as the meat from the front legs of the pig - but there does not seem to be a cut corresponding to that in the US. I could have used pork hocks, but I wasn't really sure if "lacón" were raw or smoked hocks, so I decided to omit them altogether. It doesn't seem to have made much of a difference.
I ended up using only Spanish chorizos, pancetta and jamón serrano. These are pretty expensive ingredients in the US (I paid $5 for 4 small chorizos, pancetta was $20/lb and jamón serrano was $25/lb) and I think you would not be betraying the spirit of the dish if you used cheaper alternatives: Mexican instead of Spanish chorizos (these are cheap and available at most supermarkets), bacon rather than pancetta and regular ham instead of jamón serrano.
If you can, include the whole chunk of the meat items and slice up prior to serving. I didn't do that because I could only get the jamón and the pancetta in slices. You can also serve the beans and the meat separately, if you prefer.
My fabada turned out more orange than yellow. I think this was because I did not powdered the saffron. I'd recommend that you do that for a more "authentic" look.
My guests all liked the fabada, or at least they said they did :) I served it as an appetizer, and as such it could have easily served 8 people. As a main dish, it's plenty for four.
Note: A reader has informed me that "lacón" is smoked pork hocks.
Asturian Bean Stew
1 lb. large white beans 4 small chorizos or 2 large ones 1/4 lb. pancetta 1/4 lb. jamón serrano (Spanish mountain ham) (optional) 2 morcillas (blood sausages) (optional) 1/2 lb. lacón or ham hocks 1/2 onion, sliced 2 garlic 1/2 tsp. paprika a few threads of saffron oil 1/4 bunch of parsley salt to taste.
Soak the white beans in water overnight.
Put the chorizos, pancetta, jamón serrano and other meat products if you are using them on a shallow pan. Top with white beans. Add enough water to cover all the beans/meat. Bring to a boil slowly over a medium heat. Turn down the heat and simmer for one hour. Make sure the beans are always covered with water, add more cold water if necessary.
In a separate pan, fry the onion, garlic, paprika and saffron for a few minutes. Add to the beans. Add pasley and salt. Mix carefully. Let cook for another hour.
If the broth is too liquid, you can take several beans, mash them up, return them to the pot and cook uncovered for several minutes. The stew is said to be better if you reheat it, so feel free to do that.
Adapted from several recipes.