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Fabada Asturiana: A bean and sausage stew that may have altered history's course

Could a national dish have fueled the victory against the Moors in northern Spain?

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After all, how could one’s sense of local patriotism and desire to defend one’s homeland fail to be stirred by such a dish? That the culinary use of saffron arrived in the far north of Spain via these same Moorish invaders and the integral ingredient smoked pimentón wasn’t to be discovered for another eight centuries following the conquest of Mexico doesn’t disprove this hypothesis, rather it merely serves to highlight, once again, the non-linear path of history.

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Fabada (Asturiana bean and sausage stew)
Serves 2-4

1/2 lb. dried large white beans
1 head garlic, outer paper removed but still whole
1 large onion, peeled but whole
1 Spanish chorizo
1 morcilla (blood sausage)
1/2 lb pork belly or slab bacon
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 pinch Spanish saffron
1 quart low sodium chicken stock

Soak beans overnight or for at least 12 hours in abundant cold water.

Put drained rehydrated beans in a large pot with the chicken stock, pork belly, chorizo and morcilla. Bring to a boil and skim any white scum that rises to the surface. Add garlic, onion, pimenton and saffron and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer gently for 2 hours adding more water if beans begin to dry out.

After two hours, remove meats and reserve, and remove onion and garlic and discard. Kill heat, replace lid and allow to stew for one hour.

Bring stew back to a boil and reduce liquid (if necessary) so that stew thickens but isn’t gloopy. Slice meats into serving portions and allow to reheat in hot stew before serving.

Jonny and Amy Seponara-Sills blog at We Are Never Full.

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