Red beans with chickpeas and chorizo is the kind of hearty stew that a Galician or Andalucian farmer might eat before setting out to plough a field with oxen, in a time before tractors. Being made with beans, chickpeas and potatoes the stew provides carbohydrate energy for extremely hard work on a low budget. Dried beans and chickpeas make up the bulk of the stew, other vegetables are seasonal and chorizo contains the flavour and protein. Cured chorizo is a fantastic ingredient which keeps for long periods of time – I sliced up a whole sarta chorizo picante (horseshoe shaped – both ends tied together with string) for an indulgent meal, but when times were hard a farmer or shepherd might only have used an inch.
Chickpeas were domesticated many millennia ago between Turkey and Jericho. They are a staple food throughout the Mediterranean and India.
Beans of all types are incredibly popular in Spain, most of which arrived after the discovery of the New World – the common Mediterranean bean before that time was the fava or broad bean, first domesticated in Israel 10,000 years ago. Spanish alubias rojas are a small red bean (similar to red kidney beans, but rounder) grown in the north of Spain. Use red kidney beans if the Spanish variety is unavailable.
I particularly like the texture of beans and pulses cooked from dried – they have more bite, whereas tinned are softer. Using a pressure cooker means that dried legumes can be reconstituted without a long overnight soak. Immerse in water overnight, if you wish, or cook as per your pressure cooker instructions and do feel free to substitute canned pulses.
Alubias Rojas con Garbanzos y Chorizo receta (serves 4):
1 hot chorizo ring (sliced)
2 slices of smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
4 large ripe tomatoes (grated)
1 carrot (chopped)
1 medium to large potato (cubed)
1 green pepper (chopped)
250g dried chickpeas (double the weight for tinned)
250g dried red beans (double the weight for tinned)
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
1 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
2 dessertspoons sherry vinegar
1 pint chicken stock
2 large squirts anchovy paste
2 bay leaves
a dessertspoon chopped parsley
cracked black pepper (to taste)
Extra virgin olive oil
Slice the chorizo about 1/2 an inch thick (0.5 cm) and brown in hot olive oil. Remove to a plate when done.
Do the same with the chopped bacon.
Turn the heat down and gently poach (sofreír) the chopped onion, until it is soft. This will take 20 minutes or so.
When the onion becomes sticky, grate in 4 tomatoes – cut them in half, shred the wet side and discard the skin.
Stir the tomato in, along with the chopped garlic.
Return the chorizo and bacon to the dish along with the pimentón.
Mix in the green pepper and carrot,
Add the beans, chickpeas and stock – cover and allow to simmer for a couple of hours, until the stew becomes thick and unctuous.
Check the seasoning and sprinkle some parsley on top before serving with crusty sourdough bread. I recommend that you wash this down with a glass of the funky red Pim Pam Poom from Saó del Coster in the Priorat wine region of Cataluña.