Cazuela de Garbanzos con Chorizo y Panceta is a typical and delicious Spanish stew, using fairly basic ingredients. The recipe may vary from town to town and when times were hard, one solo chorizo (no panceta or stock) would suffice to add flavour while water, onions and chickpeas would provide the bulk to feed a hungry family.
In Spanish, pork belly is called panceta. I made the mistake (several years ago) of ordering the literal translation of pork belly (vientre de cerdo) from a wholesale restaurant butcher in Calella and he brought me pork tripe with kidneys attached! Fortunately he saw the funny side of it and returned later with the required three pork bellies. When I researched this online, I discovered that it’s a common English to Spanish mistake, mostly because cured pork belly is also called panceta, like Italian pancetta! I’d peviously compounded the translation problem by buying pork belly at Cansaladeria La Moianesa, my favourite pork butcher in the Boqueria and when I asked for vientre de cerdo and pointed at the pork belly the butcher said. “Vale!” It’s easy to slip up when you can confirm things visually and vientre does mean stomach or belly!
Chickpeas (called garbanzos in Spain) are an Old World pulse, farmed as long ago as 3500 BC in Greece, Jericho and Turkey. Traces of wild (gathered) chickpeas have been found in French caves dating back to 6790 BC (give or take 90 years either way). Garbanzos can be dried and stored for months (if not years). They can be rehydrated and used in cooking or ground into a flour. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus, falafel, farinata, the batter for pakora and as an important addition to many salads, soups and stews throughout the Mediterranean, Africa, India and Asia.
Receta de Garbanzos con Chorizo y Panceta (serves 4):
250g fresh chorizo
250g pork belly slices (panceta)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (chopped)
3 medium tomatoes (grated)
300g dried chickpeas
1/2 pint chicken stock
a small glass red wine
a splash red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
a large pinch crushed thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
chopped parsley (to serve)
To reconstitute dried chickpeas they must be soaked overnight and cooked the next day for up to an hour depending on size and age. To speed the process up, garbanzos can be soaked in boiling water for an hour and cooked in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes. Chickpeas are available, ready to eat or cook with, in cans and jars. Pulses in jars are cooked at a lower temperature to tins, which means they retain their texture and flavour better (BBC Food Programme on Spanish beans).
Fry the chorizos in olive oil to give them some colour, then remove to a plate for later. I’ve used raw, uncured chorizo, but there’s no reason why one shouldn’t use cured. In the old days (before refrigeration), fresh chorizo would have been eaten after a matanza while the cured variety would have been the main staple for everything, as it keeps for several years in a larder.
Cut the pork belly slices into thick pieces and fry in the same olive oil until browned. Reserve with the chorizo.
Sofreír (poach) the chopped onion, again in the same pan and add more olive oil as necessary – be generous with it! The above looks quite brown, but in fact a lot of the colour comes from pimentón in the chorizo and the previous meat browning. This is all good and adds to the flavour. Do be careful not to burn the onion, cook on a very low heat, with lots of oil and stir …and stir!
When the onion is soft and sticky stir in the chopped garlic and grate on the tomatoes (cut them in half, grating the wet side – dispose of the leftover skin). Mix in and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
Add the pimentón and thyme,
followed by the chickpeas, bay leaves, stock, wine and vinegar. You can mix some of the chickpea liquid with a stock cube if you don’t have home made stock to hand. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).
Allow to cook for an hour or so, on low, with the lid on.
Return the chorizo and panceta to the pot for a final 30 minutes (if you cook pork belly and chorizo for too long in stock they loose a lot of flavour and texture). Do pour on more libations of wine and/or stock if necessary.
I did see a recipe for this from a Spanish processed food manufacturer who added camarones or gammas to the pot. While I won’t be buying their preprepared ingredients in jars, the idea of adding prawns to other fresh provisions, is good inspiration and makes me think of gumbo!