This wonderfully fragrant dish was inspired by Spanish fabada. Fabada Asturiana is a thick stew made of large white beans, pork (sometimes salted) and chorizo sausage and often spiced with smoked paprika and saffron. Sort of cassoulet, Spanish style.
In my stew I reduced the amount of beans and added lots of kale, which made the dish lighter and suitable even for a warm summer day. I couldn’t find dry large white beans so instead I used canned butter beans. If you get lucky to come across dry butter or large lima beans, please please let me know!
For a large company of good eaters you will need:
- 2.5-3 lb skinned pork belly or shoulder, cut into 1.5-2 inch pieces
- 1 medium or ½ large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 bunches of kale, tough stems removed and discarded, leaves cut into ribbons (can be replaced with baby kale)
- ½ cup Dry white vermouth or white wine
- 1 tsp red hot pepper flakes (optional)
- 4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp regular paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- A pinch of saffron threads
- 2 bay leaves
- 2.5 – 3 cups meat stock (can be replaced with chicken or vegetable stock)
- Salt, to taste
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 chorizo sausage, sliced (occasionally, I use our homemade spicy pork sausages instead)
- 2-3 cans butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
On a medium high heat, brown the pork pieces on all sides in a small amount of oil. Transfer the pork into a braising pot.
If you use pork belly, it may render some fat during frying, so pour it off, leaving only about 2-3 tablespoons in the pan. In the same pan, sauté onions until they become translucent. Add both kinds of paprika, cumin, saffron, hot pepper flakes, bay leaves and stir to combine. Add wine/vermouth, stock and salt to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil and pour it over the pork.
Cover the braising pot with a lid and put into the oven preheated to 300F. After 10-15 minutes reduce the heat to 200F and cook the pork until tender, about 3 hours. Alternatively, you can cook the stew on the stove top. Just keep it on a very low heat and give a good stir every now and then to ensure even cooking.
About half hour before the end of cooking, add sausages and beans to the pot and continue stewing on a low heat. Meanwhile, blanch kale ribbons in hot water for 3-4 minutes or until tender, but not mushy. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking process and set aside.
When the meat is very tender, add the kale and garlic. Gently stir and cook for another 7-10 minutes. Let the stew rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
It goes fabulous with crusty bread and good tannic red wine.
Sometimes, instead of kale I use fennel, of which I happen to be a huge fan. I thinly slice 2 fennel bulbs and brown them all over in small amount of oil. Then I add them to the stew about half an hour before the end of cooking, together with sausages and beans.
If you get your hands on dry large beans, soak them overnight in plenty of cold water. Then rinse and cook slowly in fresh unsalted water for about an hour before adding to the stew. Alternatively, you can cook them together with pork. Salt tends to slow down bean softening, so they will need more time in a salty stew environment. Since meat takes about 3 hours to cook, you can add soaked beans about 30-60 minutes after the beginning of meat cooking.
When using homemade pork sausages, I briefly sauté them before adding to the stew.