Broad Bean and Chorizo Stew
Broad Beans are a particular favourite of mine and since the season for them in England is quite short (June – September) I tend to buy a kilo per week during the summer, from Perry Court Farm, at the Islington Farmers’ Market.
The broad bean (also known as faba, fava, faves, haba, etc.) has been cultivated around the Mediterranean for at least 8,000 years, where the growing season is considerably longer than three or four months. Back in February, I noticed fresh broad beans alongside tomatoes and courgettes on the stalls of the local farmers in Barcelona’s Boqueria Market. In places where these beans have a longer growing season, leading to a surplus, they are often dried, in a similar manner to white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, etc.
I used to come here to buy rice and lentils back in the 90s – the shop is another of the Barcelona “tin shops“, selling canned fish, wine, pulses, etc. Having never tried dried habas before, I couldn’t resist buying a kilo. I loved the fact that the beans are weighed out by the person who serves you and then you take them to a cashier for payment.
Cocido de Habas y Chorizo recipe (serves 2 greedy people):
6 cooking chorizo (about 500g) – these are soft and uncured (available from good butchers and most large UK supermarkets)
300g dried broad beans (or fresh if in season)
4 slices of smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 red pepper (chopped)
1 courgette (chopped)
4 large tomatoes (blanched, peeled and chopped) or 1 tin
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 large tsp hot smoked pimentón
2 bay leaves
1/2 pint of homemade ham stock
a splash of sherry vinegar
olive oil (as required)
a large piece of Stilton rind (optional)
First of all, this can be made in any kind of cooking pot, something cast iron would be ideal – I used a traditional Spanish terracotta cazuela (thanks to Chica Andaluza, who brought it back from Andalucía for me). I owned several cazuelas when I lived in Barcelona and they are a joy to cook with. They hold the heat well and can be used on a gas or electric hob, open fire and in an oven. They are made of clay, so must be heated up gently and treated with respect. Never add cold things to a hot dish or it will crack! These cazuelas are remarkably cheap in Spain (though quite expensive abroad) – the smallest are less than a Euro and large ones cost €4 – €5, (honestly!). The important factor here is to always season a new cazuela before use. If done properly the dish should last for years.
To season a cazuela:
1. Soak overnight in cold water.
2. Dry thoroughly.
3. Rub the underside with a piece of raw garlic (optional, but it’s what all the old ladies suggest).
4. Fill almost to the brim with cold water and heat very gently on the hob, turning the heat up slowly until the water bubbles.
5. Allow the water to evaporate over a couple of hours, until almost gone.
6. Allow the cazuela to cool – then it’s ready for use.
Dried beans require overnight soaking and 45 – 90 minutes cooking …or done the easy way, 1 hour soaking in boiling water and 12 minutes cooking in a pressure cooker. Prepare these beforehand.
Brown the cooking chorizo in olive oil – if using a cazuela add plenty of oil when the dish is cold and heat up slowly with the sausages in the pot. The chorizo will brown like cooking in a frying pan, once the cazuela has heated up (this keeps the flavour of the chorizo in the cooking oil, which won’t happen if cooked separately). When the chorizo are browned, remove them to a plate and fry the onions and bacon. Next add the garlic, followed by the red pepper and courgette. When the vegetables have been coated with oil and softened slightly, stir in the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle on the pimentón, some black pepper and mix in the anchovy paste, tomato purée and a splash of sherry vinegar. Let this bubble for a few minutes before tasting – more seasoning can be added during the cooking process, as required.
When the seasoning is about right add the precooked broad beans and half the ham stock (warmed beforehand if using a cazuela). More stock can be added during cooking, as necessary. Now return the chorizo to the pot, along with the bay leaves. Cover the dish and simmer for a couple of hours. The sauce should reduce and thicken while the beans absorb the smokey paprika flavour. I was inspired to add a large piece of Colston Basset Stilton rind, left languishing in the fridge. Unwaxed natural cheese rind can be a great addition to a casserole or soup – it helps to thicken and impart a little umami flavour. Leftover Parmesan rind is always worth saving for a rainy day. This Stilton really held its own with the chorizo and pimentón, making the dish quite special.
Serve with a robust Spanish red wine, such as Era Costana Crianza Rioja.
N.B. Ham stock can be a great way to get more out of a ham bone – they do contain lots of flavour. See my stock post for instructions. This leg wouldn’t fit in the pressure cooker and I don’t possess a cleaver large enough to chop it up, so I left the top off and covered it with foil. It was gently simmered for about 4 hours. Don’t add salt when making ham stock, it contains enough already.