Hello everyone! I haven’t posted any recipes or the past 6 weeks because I have been very busy attending a 4-week intensive course in Spanish cuisine at the Madrid Cordon Bleu School. Every day we had a 3-hour demonstration class followed by a 3-hour practical class. It was quite tiring: here is a picture of me on the first day of class when I was rested and ‘raring to go.’ Four weeks later, I didn’t feel quite so rested!
that’s me on the right
After doing this course, I am definitely not an expert in Spanish cuisine, but I can say that the Spanish do use a lot of olive oil and smoked paprika (pimenton) in their cooking. They also use a lot of cured meats such as chorizo and Iberian ham.
One traditional dish from the Asturias region of northwest Spain is called Fabada Asturiana. This stew uses fabes (white beans) combined with smoked pork sausages from Asturias (chorizo asturiana), and blood sausages from the region (morcilla asturiana). The addition of the pancetta gives this dish a hearty smoked flavor- perfect especially for the cooler weather. (While I was in Madrid, the temperature reached an average of 90 F every day, however I still liked eating this dish)!
The fabes are large white kidney beans from Asturias that are creamy and tender- however you could also use cannellini or Great Northern beans as a substitute. I had never tried morcilla or blood sausages before but these had a light texture that I really liked. These sausages need to be added at the very end of the cooking, otherwise they tend to break up and ‘disappear’ in the stew. If you don’t have access to the morcilla, you could substitute another type of sausage of your choice.
And don’t worry about soaking the white beans overnight and cooking them for two hours ahead of time! I used the quick-soak method, where you bring the beans briefly to a boil and let soak for only 1-hour- this will save you a lot of time!
Blood sausage from Asturias (morcilla asturiana), Smoked sauage from Asturias (chorizo asturiana) and pancetta
So, if you want to experience a taste of Spain (without having to travel to the country) try making this smoky bean stew, Fabada Asturiana!
- 1 lb dried white beans (fabes, cannellini or Great Northern beans)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ lb pancetta or speck bacon, cut into ½ inch strips
- 2 'chorizos asturianas' (or other Spanish chorizo)
- 2 ‘morcillas asturianas’ (blood sausages)
- 12 cups water (or enough water to cover the beans and other ingredients)
- 3-4 threads of saffron
- Salt to taste
- Rinse the dried beans. Fill a large saucepan or Dutch oven with water and bring to a boil; add the beans and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and cover the pan with a lid- let the beans soak for one hour. Strain the beans and set aside. In a large pot or Dutch oven, ‘sweat’ the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until they are translucent. Cut the pancetta into thin strips and the chorizos into ¼ inch slices and add to the pot and cook for about one minute. Add the soaked beans to the pan and enough water to cover the ingredients; add a few threads of saffron and salt to taste. Cook for at least 1 hour on a medium-low heat until all flavors have infused together.
- While the ingredients are cooking, cut the morcilla (blood) sausages into thin slices and bake in a pre-heated oven at 320 F (160 C) for 10 minutes. Add them to the stew during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. Serve warm in individual bowls.
- You could substitute the morcilla blood sausage with any other sausage of your choice. Also, if you do not have access to 'chorizo asturiana', you could substitute a general Spanish chorizo for this.