This was the side dish we chose to make from our Spanish cooking extravaganza. Okay, so I just called it a Spanish cooking extravaganza in my head, we didn't actually refer to it that way, but that's definitely what it was. :-) This was very delicious, the beans cook up buttery and creamy and the accent of the pimenton is rich and flavorful. We did have to use butter beans however, as fabes are not widely available in the US, and if they can be found (LaTienda.com) they are fairly expensive ($16/pound). After much googling about a suitable replacement, I decided on butter beans.
The second change I made was not to use slab bacon, but to just slice up bacon and use that instead. While it turned out okay, I think I would make one more change to this next time. I'd probably pan fry the bacon to get it started, and then cook the onion, garlic and spices in a mixture of bacon fat and olive oil. The bacon was delicious (as all bacon is) but, did not have the greatest texture after being boiled in the soup. I think this would help it be even better.
Asturian Bean Stew
From Made in Spain
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 pound dried butter beans
1/4 pound bacon, cut in 1 inch pieces
4 cups chicken stock
1 head garlic, papery outer skin removed
2 medium Spanish onions, 1 halved and 1 minced
1/4 cup Spanish extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
pinch of saffron, crushed
- The day before you plan to cook the stew, place the beans in a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak the beans overnight at room temperature. The next day, drain and rinse the beans.
- Combine the drained beans and chicken stock in a large pot. Remove 1 garlic clove from the head and set aside. Add the bacon, the head of garlic and the halved onion. Bring to a slow boil, skimming and foam that rises to the top. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced onion and cook until it is translucent and begins to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Peel and mince the reserved garlic clove and add it to the onion. Cook for 2 more minutes, then stir in the pimenton and saffron. Spoon the onion mixture into the large pot and stir well until combined.
- Continue to cook the beans, uncovered, at a very low simmer for 2 hours. Occasionally add a little cold water to slow the simmering and to keep the beans covered with liquid. Do not stir the beans while they cook, this could cause them to break apart.
- Remove the pot from the heat, cover and set aside to cool for one hour. Remove and discard the onion halves and head of garlic.
- Ladle the beans into soup bowls and serve.