As the days become shorter and the colder weather begins to rear its ugly head, there are few better ways to spend an evening than by indulging in a luxurious stew to warm body, heart, and mind. We all have our favourites, those recipes we go back to year after year to seek refuge from the cold, and it is no different in Spain, where pretty much every region has a particular stew, or Guiso, that they return to each fall.
These two recipes are both adaptations of classic Spanish dishes, with an eye on using widely available ingredients.
The first is a hearty meat stew, roughly based on the famous Fabada Asturiana, but using butter beans instead of the Fabes de la Granja (literally, beans of the farm) that are an integral part of the original dish. The second is a white fish stew that takes elements from a typical Basque fish stew and mixes them with spices like cumin and saffron that are more widely used in the south of Spain.
Give these recipes a try and hopefully you will discover a Spanish Guiso worthy of adding to your list of stew mainstays.
Pork and Butter Bean Stew
- 1 pound butter/lima beans, drained (other white beans can be used, but be careful with cooking times, as some require longer than others. Follow packet instructions)
- Water to cover beans, plus 1-1/2 inches extra
- 3 strands saffron
- 1/4 pound diced, cured pancetta
- 1 pound small pork ribs
- 1 Morcilla sausage (or any other spicy blood sausage)
- 1 Chorizo sausage
- Crusty bread (to serve)
1. Place the drained butter beans into a saucepan, cover with the water, bring to the boil, and cook for 15 minutes. Periodically skim off and discard the foam that forms on top.
2. Stir in the saffron, add the pancetta, and leave to cook for a further five minutes
3. Prick the Chorizo and Morcilla sausages a couple of times and add to the pan along with the pork ribs, bone on. Cook for a further five minutes.
4. Reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are nearly cooked through (about 25-30 minutes, but add time as per packet instructions if you have used a stronger bean).
5. Remove the Chorizo, Morcilla and pork ribs from the pan, turn the heat down to the lowest setting, and leave the beans to gently finish cooking while you attend to the meat. Slice the Chorizo and Morcilla into 1/2 inch thick pieces, remove the pork rib meat from the bone and put aside.
6. Spoon the bean stock into appropriately sized bowls and add a quarter of the meat to each bowl. Asturians would consider it heresy to serve this dish with anything other than a crisp cider, but I find a medium-strength stout or porter works just as well. Crusty bread is a given for soaking up those lovely, meaty juices.
White Fish Stew
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 medium green pepper (finely chopped)
- 2 celery stalks (finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1-1/4 pound chopped tomatoes
- 2 small glasses of dry white wine
- 2 small red chilies (finely sliced)
- 3/4 pound new potatoes, quartered
- 1-1/4 pound white fish fillet (Hake, Pink Bream, Cod, etc), chopped into 1-1/4 inch cubes
- 3/4 pound shrimp
- Parsley (to garnish)
- 1 lemon (serve with in quarters, one quarter per person)
- Crusty bread (to serve)
1. Pour a couple of glugs of Olive Oil into a saucepan, add the finely chopped onion, and cook over a medium heat until it starts to soften (about five minutes).
2. Add the celery and green pepper and cook for a further three minutes.
3. Mix the paprika, cumin, and water together and add to the pan along with the garlic. Cook for a further two to three minutes. The small amount of water mixed in with the spices will prevent them from burning.
4. Add the white wine, tomatoes, red chili, and potatoes to the pan. Bring to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are nearly done.
5. Add the cubed white fish, stir well, and cook on a high heat for 3-4 minutes. Then add the shrimp, stir, and cook for 3-4 minutes longer until seafood is cooked through.
6. Plate up, sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and serve with a quarter lemon, crusty bread, and a glass of white wine.
All photos are courtesy of the author.