The Catalans have a classic dish of Botifarra del País con Judías Blanc y Alioli – country sausage with white beans and allioli. Botifarra (butifarra in Spanish) sausages date back to the time of the Romans and this dish became popular in small Catalan inns (seises) during the 19th Century. The recipe appears in the 1830 Catalan cook book – Nou Manual de Cuinar amb tota perfeccio. Note that Judías means Jews, who are synonymous with beans in Spain – see my explanation here. The white beans served are usually mongetes, a local strain of haricot beans and they are cooked to be fairly dry. I came across two recipes recently for a Tuscan white bean and sausage stew and a Gascon saucisses aux haricots et tomates, both of which inspired me to make a different Spanish version of sausages with beans.
Ideally the sausages for this recipe should be Catalan Botifarra sausages which are probably related to Linguiça Calabresa and Cumberland sausages. Butifarra, are not so easy to come by outside of Spain, so the nearest equivalents would be sausages with a similar pedigree and style, made without bread or rusk. Toulouse would also make a good substitute. All the above are probably decendents of the Ancient Roman Lucanica sausage. Botifarres come in a ring (traditionally), just like Cumberland, Toulouse and Lucanica, but they are also available as individual sausages.
Alubias Blancas con Butifarra (serves 4):
400g dried alubias blancas – navy (haricot) beans
6 butifarra (or other good quality sausages)
100g jamón serrano (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
4 medium tomatoes (grated)
1 stick celery (chopped)
1 red pepper (chopped)
100g cavolo nero (chopped)
2 squirts anchovy paste
1 squirt tomato purée
2 teaspoons ground rosemary, sage and thyme
4 bay leaves
a large glass red wine
a splash red wine vinegar
1 pint chicken stock
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil
I prefer to use dried beans, the texture is better than tinned, but if using the canned variety, you will need two cans (dried beans double in size when reconstituted). Ideally soak dry beans overnight in cold water or for one hour in boiling water and then cook in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes, with a couple of bay leaves.
Brown the botifarres in a little hot olive oil and then remove to a plate.
Using the same casserole and oil sofreír (gently poach) the onion until it becomes soft and sticky.
Add the chpped garlic and grate on the tomatoes (cut them in half and grate the wet side – dispose of the leftover skins).
Stir in the celery and red pepper.
Grind the rosemary, sage and thyme, with a little coarse sea salt and 6 black pepper corns, with a mortar and pestle.
Sprinkle on the herbs and mix in the anchovy paste and tomato purée.
Pour on the chicken stock, wine and red wine vinegar. Allow the alcohol to evaporate for 5 minutes or so.
Add the white beans and sausages.
Bring to a simmer, put the lid on and remove to a preheated oven at 120ºC for and hour.
Sprinkle on the jamón serrano and submerge – it’s best added towards the end or it becomes chewy.
Chop the cavolo nero (or regular cabbage) and cover the top of the casserole with it. Put the lid back on and return to the oven until the black cabbage wilts.
Stir in the cavolo nero and serve with crusty bread. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Enemigo Mio (My Enemy – refuring to wild boar, who eats the grapes) a Garnacha from Casa Rojo in Murcia.