This was a dish that had pleasantly filled my belly in a quite unique restaurant in Oviedo – eating in a barrel was definitely a first for me. Trouble was neither I nor my dining mates had realised it was a starter. They’ve clearly got good appetites in Asturias as this hearty mix of beans, chorizo, morcilla and bits of pig is a main meal in everyone but Desperate Dan’s book. There, the fabada was followed by a Mount Teide-sized platter of grilled meats. After that meal they could have stuck me beside one of their cider-spouting wooden barrels and no-one would have noticed the difference.
But despite my tum’s moaning and groaning, I was impressed with the flavours of the popular Asturian stew and picked up a recipe from a woman in Oviedo’s market who had a stall that sold only ingredients for fabada.
Funny thing is that on my return to Tenerife and a visit to the supermarket I spotted lots of little fabada packs with morcilla, chorico and tocino (a bit like belly of pork) that I’d never noticed before. In fact there were about five or six different varieties, so this week I threw one of them in the trolley.
Fabada is a peasant dish; one of those meals where you throw everything in a pot and leave it whilst you go and thresh the wheat, milk the goats, feed the hens, kick the cat for chasing the hens…you know the sort of thing.
The recipe I had was obviously fabada 101 – big, dobbing great haricot beans thrown in a pot with the morcilla, chorizo and tocino, saffron and salt. We threw in a couple of bay leaves as well just for good measure…oh and some paprika just because it felt right.
The whole lot is covered with water and left to simmer for three hours. There must be a few variations on how to cook this meal, because it seemed to me that the morcilla and possibly even the chorizo wouldn’t take three hours of simmering and in Oviedo the beans had been served separately from the meat. Anyway within seconds the house was filled with the sort of aromas that have you salivating when you walk down any traditional street in Spain at lunchtime.
Three hours later it was ready for eating. The beans looked similar to the fabada I’d eaten in Asturias but sure enough the morcilla and the chorizo had been largely absorbed into the mix. Although it didn’t quite match the Asturian fabada in the looks department it tasted pretty much how I remembered it – meaty, savoury…filling – and was considered a big enough success to be given the thumbs up regarding featuring again on the Montgomery menu. But next time I’m going to take a different approach with the morcilla and chorizo, so a bit more research is in order.