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I recently spent some time in Spain, including several days in Asturias, and was privileged to have a lunch of Fabada Asturiana at the restaurant La Maquina in Lugones, which specializes in this wonderful dish. Always nice to start at the top. :smile:

For the edification of those who may not be familiar with fabada -- sadly, most Americans have never heard of it -- it is a deceptively simple dish. In the most classic version, white beans (fabes in Asturiano) are cooked low and slow with saffron, black morcilla, chorizo and lacón (the salt-cured foreleg of a pig). A large bowl of beans in liquid comes to the table and a plate with a few small pieces of each of the three meats. That's it. But that's only really the beginning. The white beans I had were of a wonderful local variety (granja variety?) -- similar in appearance to the familiar Italian cannellini, but significantly longer and creamier in texture. The beans were all whole. Not one single one was split or broken, nor did they break apart on the way to our bowls or up to our lips. And yet, upon the slightest pressure from the teeth it was as though they immediately transformed into creamy softness. Some of this was the quality and variety of the beans, no doubt, but I can only assume that some of it was also the result of many decades of experience and expertise. This fabada was by no means a light dish, and yet it was certainly less rich (and less meaty) than other well-known bean dishes such as cassoulet. Really, it was all about the beans. The few small bits of meat that came along with the beans seemed more like condiments for the beans than fundamental structural elements of the dish.

Since that eye-opening lunch, I have come to understand that there are many different versions and styles of fabada. I have heard good things about fabadas with clams and also what sounded like a very interesting fabada with centollo (giant spider crab).

As will be apparent to our Spanish members, and those more familiar with Spain than I, my knowledge and experience in this area is very meager at this point. But I'd like to learn more! What can you tell me about fabada? Is there any possibility of approximating this dish back here in NYC? What are some favorite recipes and variations?


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Sam,

I am sorry to read that the longaniza de Avilés and the Virrey we had at Casa Tataguyo did not mark you as the fabada :raz: . Anyway I am enclosing my recipe for fabada, one that has proved by Americans without too much hassle :wink:

First of all, you will have to soak the white beans (see http://www.tienda.com/food/pop/be-01.html for this beans in the U.S.) the night before, and keep soaked until next morning. Discard that water, and put the white beans in a deep and wide casserole (I use a WMF inox). Add cold water a couple of inches above the white beans and bring slowly to a gentle boil. Some unsoluble proteins from the white beans will end floating on top. Remove two or three times over a 30 minutes time. Add more COLD water if needed (not likely if you used the right amount of water from the start and the boil is gentle).

Now, cut the lacon (this is like ham, but arm instead of leg of the pig) into pieces of about 1 inch (like cubes 1x1x1 inch or so), puncture each horizo and each blood sausage 5 or 6 times (so they do not explode when cooking) with a toothpick and cut also the panceta (bacon) in cubes like the ham. Clean all the meats a bit under the tap water and add to the casserole. Keep the cooking slow and NEVER (I SAID NEVER) remove with a spoon, fork or any other instrument. Just shake a bit the casserole to avoid sticking. You do not want the beans to break. The chorizo and the morcilla will start to release fat, which you will have to decide whether to remove or not. I usually remove a bit for the sake of my veins, but it is up to you. Eventually, you will need to add COLD water two or three times. And keep the water an inch over the white beans in the bottom of the casserole. All the process should take about 2-3 hours.

Let the dish cold for one hour (so that it thickens), then reheat gently, cut the chorizo and the blood sausage in 3-4 pieces each and take them back to the casserole. Serve. Some people like to eat the white beans and the juice first, and all the meats as a second course. I prefer to cut all the meats into tiny pieces and mix with the white beans, eating as a single course.

Some people takes out a bit of the juice (soup?), toasts a bit of saffron, and add it to the juice, which is then added back to the casserole, but I do not think it is really necessary.

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I think the key to a successful fabada is good pork products (especially the smoked morcilla and chorizo) and good beans. Some times we substitute judiones de la granja, but we try to bring enough fabes back from Asturias to last us for a good long while. And Pelayín's technique of shaking the cazuela lightly (instead of stirring) and adding the cold water really helps to keep the beans from overcooking and breaking up.

The clam dish is fabes con almejas (with saffron). Different from and simpler than fabada--one of my favorite dishes. But only if I can get the little delicate clams they use in Asturias.

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Indeed, as butterfly says, the quality of the 'compango' (which is the Asturian name for the pork-based components of the fabada), plus the tenderness of the 'faba' kidney beans are crucial to the success of the fabada. The unavailability of those wonderful, smoked blood sausages abroad makes it difficult to replicate the dish outside of Spain. There is the not-negligible alternative, for nostalgia's sake, to stock up on canned fabada: these kinds of dishes take well to the tin. Some brands (Litoral, La Tila) do it particularly well.

BTW, in Madrid there are several highly authentic Asturian restaurants that will whip up a fabada that's pratically as good as the great ones at Lugones: El Oso is the undisputed leader, followed by Casa Portal, Casa Hortensia (which as recently moved to the Casa de Asturias regional house on calle Farmacia), La Hoja, Ferreiro, the great wine bar/restaurant Asturianos (featured this month in Wine & Spirits magazine) and the amazing Mesón Arturo, a bar in the nondescript suburb of Hortaleza. In many of these places there is a different, bean-based, lighter Asturian dish for those who have overdosed on fabada: pote asturiano.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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slkinsey, if you are in NY, Despana Brand Foods, a Spanish food store based in Queens just opened a branch downtown in Manhattan. They carry dried Asturian faves (expensive but worth it) and very decent chorizo and morcilla. I make fabada all the time with their products--there is a recipe in my book, The New Spanish Table--and it comes out just fine. If you don't want dish to be greasy, you can blanch the sausages in boiling water first for a couple of minutes.

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I met José Andrés on Sunday and he mantains that the ingredients barrier which we tend to identify as one of the major difficulties to recreate Spanish dishes abroad is overrated. In his Tapas book, along with a recipe of fabada comes a list of suppliers in the States that I imagine could be useful to you guys. His recipe, mind you, is not the most orthodox I've seen --chicken broth, garlic, pimentón-- but sure it looks good!

Fabada is also referred as the 'pork in the dish', so there are variations of the pork cuts that you may add, but there seems to be a common point in chorizo and morcilla.

Just by chance, I cooked fabada yesterday, slightly before this post came alive. I used bacon instead of lacón and I also added pork trotters. There's no need to bring the beans to boil and risking them to break, if you keep them between 85-90ºC you'll be just fine, needing some time more to cook them. The juice has to have some thickness, that can be achieved by reducing it once the beans are tender or --the usual trick-- smashing a few beans with the juice until getting a paste and mixing with the rest as a natural thickener.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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slkinsey, if you are in NY, Despana Brand Foods, a Spanish food store based in Queens just opened a branch downtown in Manhattan. They carry dried Asturian faves (expensive but worth it) and very decent chorizo and morcilla.

Awesome. I have to check that place out!


--

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I am sorry to read that the longaniza de Avilés and the Virrey we had at Casa Tataguyo did not mark you as the fabada  :raz: .

I think I can speak for both Sam and me (since I was present at the lunch in Avilés, too) when I say that both the virrey and longaniza were indeed superb and memorable. But I also still remember my first trip to Asturias over 20 years ago, after which I was obsessed with fabada for years... there's just something about it. Unfortunately, back then, the ingredients necessary to try and make it here in the U.S. were even less readily available than they are now (and when Casa Moneo on 14th St. closed, stuff was REALLY difficult to come by for several years).

Pelayín, your fabada recipe is almost identical to that of María García Rodríguez of La Máquina (as reported by Penelope Casas in one of her books...incidentally, she does use some saffron). Have you two been comparing notes? Or perhaps it's just part of the asturiano "collective uncoscious"....


My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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I think I can speak for both Sam and me (since I was present at the lunch in Avilés, too) when I say that both the virrey and longaniza were indeed superb and memorable

Well, that's what I thought at the end of the lunch after several ummm, ahhhh and de puta madre (in spanish originally) comments during the lunch :laugh:

Pelayín, your fabada recipe is almost identical to that of María García Rodríguez of La Máquina (as reported by Penelope Casas in one of her books...incidentally, she does use some saffron).  Have you two been comparing notes?  Or perhaps it's just part of the asturiano "collective uncoscious"....

When I started cooking fabada (not so long ago) I took one book as a reference and followed the recipe. It came out well and I have not felt the need to do more research. The book is:

El Libro de las Guisanderas de Asturias

Editor: Club de Guisanderas de Asturias

Coordinator: María Palacio and José Antonio Fidalgo

No ISBN (!) but a "Depósito Legal": AS/3492-99

And the recipe for fabada is in the preface to the book by José Antonio Fidalgo. The book calls for saffron at the end of the cooking.

Best,

P.

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The book is:

El Libro de las Guisanderas de Asturias

Editor: Club de Guisanderas de Asturias

Coordinator: María Palacio and José Antonio Fidalgo

No ISBN (!) but a "Depósito Legal": AS/3492-99

Hmm... I think I may have noticed that book for sale during my previous visit to Asturias a couple of years ago, and now, of course, wish I had bought it. Is that the one that includes the recipe for fabada con pantruque from Casa Morán?


My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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Hmm... I think I may have noticed that book for sale during my previous visit to Asturias a couple of years ago, and now, of course, wish I had bought it.  Is that the one that includes the recipe for fabada con pantruque from Casa Morán?

Eric,

the book I referenced includes recipes from a group of women in charge of the restaurants´ kitchens in Asturias. The only exception being the recipe in the preface by one of the coordinators of the text (José Antonio Fidalgo).

It is available at Casa del Libro

Best,

P.


Edited by Pelayin (log)

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Okay... so far, so good on my project to make fabada in NYC. Was able to procure Asturian fabes, the right kind of chorizo and house-made Asturian-style morcilla at Despana in downtown Manhattan. Not sure what I'll be able to do for lacón. Any ideas?


--

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Replace the lacón with other pork produce. Jamónwould work but it can be even more difficult to source it than lacón. Pork trotter will do it.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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I recently had an indulgent trip to Despana where I bought whimsically, figuring I'd snack on things, or find/invent recipes when I got home. I discovered I had many of the ingredients for Fabada, just needed to go back to get the beans, and buy some ham and pancetta.

I used Anya Von Bremzen's book From the Spanish Table, which I checked out of the library. This and several other recipes were successes so it may have to become a permanent part of my collection.

Problems: My beans (so expensive!) were delicious but didn't stay quite as whole as I would have liked. I probably stirred more than I should have. I didn't find the right kind of ham, so I substituted.

In spite of this, the stew was SO GOOD and not hard to make at at all. The combination of meats, pimenton, and amazingly creamy beans was so satisfying but much more than a comfort food.

It's so heavy and rich that you won't want to eat very much of it in one sitting- I currently have vats in my freezer. I saved some of the broth separately, to make an amazingly flavorful base for a lighter kind of soup.

Here's the meat ready to go into the stew

gallery_37101_2754_33701.jpg

And here it is after being stewed for a few hours, and then cut up.

gallery_37101_2754_14113.jpg

Everything all together

gallery_37101_2754_21958.jpg


The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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(...)

Problems: My beans (so expensive!) were delicious but didn't stay quite as whole as I would have liked. I probably stirred more than I should have

(...)

Don't worry, "Fabes" breaking apart is commonplace.

You want low heat, simmer them just below the boiling point and they'll stay nice and whole, high heat will spoil them in no time at all.

Perhaps it was due to overcooking, that's also usual, but anyway you should avoid stirring entirely once you've got them simmering. Just close the lid and let them be for 30 minutes, or whatever your recipe calls for, because any sudden temperature change breaks their skin for sure.

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I don't know if this has already been said, but if you own a slowcooker, it yields the most luscious fabada ever... provided you have the right ingredients and that you soak the beans the night before. Actually, this is one of my favourite uses for my crockpot.


Middlebrow Catalan gastronomy??????

http://baixagastronomia.blogspot.com/

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The trick to keeping the beans whole (as Pelayín mentioned above) is to not stir at all and to cook very slowly. You can shake the pan a bit to keep it from sticking (not really an issue with all the pork fat...), but you can't stir.

Edit: I've never tried it in a crockpot (no space for one in my tiny kitchen), but it sounds like a great idea.


Edited by butterfly (log)

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fabada is a tricky dish, it is not that easy to cook a good one, the fabes need to be very fresh (the new harvest has just arrived) and the water is also very important. Never cook them with hard waters.

I've just arrived from eating a good one at Asturianos, in fact I've eated three different fabes dishes :wacko: , and they try not to stir at all.


Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"

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Hi Nina. Now that the weather's turning cool, I've got to give fabada another try. I am not expert in making it (clearly!) but have had the privilege of dining at La Maquina, which is considered by many to be the pinnacle of fabada-making. So at least I think I have a good idea of what a world-class fabada should be like.

Some thoughts on making fabada in NYC:

It's great to have a source like Despaña, but their fabes aren't as fresh as they could be -- certainly not as fresh as one can get in Spain. This proved to be a problem in my first attempt, because while some of the beans cooked through to that etherial, creamy interior, around 10% of them remained somewhat mealy and undercooked even after several extra hours of cooking. The best way I can think of to make this work with Despaña's fabes would be to cook the fabada extra long (and extra low to avoid breakage) the day before, to make sure all the beans are properly cooked, and then gently reheat for service the following day. Needless to say, the fabada should not be stirred or the fabes will break.

Looking at your picture, your fabada seems to be around 75% meat and 25% fabes. This is very different from the classic formula, which to my eye seems to be more like 85% fabes and 15% meat. As I think I pointed out above, at La Maquina each person got maybe 3 small pieces of each of the three meats (morcilla, chorizo and lacón). I don't know that it'll help much with the heaviness, but it should make for a less rich dish if you cut way back on the meats. That's missing the point anyway, as fabada is all about the beans.


--

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I would suggest two highly inauthentic solutions to broken beans-first is to soak with plenty of soda, then rinse very thorougly, second is to cook in a very low oven after bringing just to the boil on the stove, no lid. this gives a very good result, but the meats look wrong-Lacon and Tocino/panceta are absolutely essential in a dish of such few parts.

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As I mention upthread, it is not possible to obtain lacón in NYC so something else must be used.


--

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I agree with Butterfly. It's very important not to stir, especially after the beans have become soft. Some with break apart, but most will keep together.

Now's here a question someone might know the answer to: is there a real difference between fabes and judiones de la granja (Segovia)? They seem essentially the same to me, and the only difference is that they come from different parts of the country.


Brian Murdock

Madrid, Spain

Teacher/writer

www.murdockmedia.com

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Now's here a question someone might know the answer to: is there a real difference between fabes and judiones de la granja (Segovia)?  They seem essentially the same to me, and the only difference is that they come from different parts of the country.

Judiones de la granja are much bigger and thicker than fabes and the later are thinner and softer. Take a look at this site.

I've heard that there are now lots of fake fabes from South America. To differ them you have to take a fistful and tighten and if they escape they are the false ones.


Edited by Rogelio (log)

Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"

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Regarding the preservation of intact beans during the cooking process, McGee recommends, besides avoiding soda to prevent added tastes --a barbarian habit, if you ask me :biggrin: --, to keep the temperature somewhere between 80 and 93ºC. If it rises above that, you have to resort to the old trick of asustar the fabes --literally, to scare them--: add cold water in small drops to keep the temperature within the desired range.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Now's here a question someone might know the answer to: is there a real difference between fabes and judiones de la granja (Segovia)?  They seem essentially the same to me, and the only difference is that they come from different parts of the country.

Judiones de la granja are much bigger and thicker than fabes and the later are thinner and softer. Take a look at this site.

I've heard that there are now lots of fake fabes from South America. To differ them you have to take a fistful and tighten and if they escape they are the false ones.

That's a great site!! Thanks Rogelio!!


Brian Murdock

Madrid, Spain

Teacher/writer

www.murdockmedia.com

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