The holidays are formally over with the ringing of the new year.
After vast consumptions of high caloric foods, which were officially launched at Thanksgiving, a mountain of sweets later and the invariable intake of more than our fair share of cocktails, wine and bubbly, we’re riddled with usual post-festivities-guilt over the number of calories ingested. The typical diet favored resolutions come into play, along with that extra hour at the gym. Yet some of us need some hearty fare to counter the frosty temperatures of January and February.
You could put to good use that leftover hambone in the freezer and start some much-needed cooking, which lends itself for some glorious, stew-like, robust potages, perfect to ward off the winter’s chill.
This particular take favors the fabada, hailing from the northern Spanish region of Asturias. The singularity in fabada includes blood sausage (morcilla), which is a quintessential ingredient along with smoked ham and chorizo.
Here, morcilla is substituted with the leftover ham and the chorizo is included for umami smokiness. Fresh favas (white cannellini beans) are optimal here but can be easily swapped for canned cannellini. If using fresh, they need to be soaked overnight and the water discarded.
1 LB of cannellini beans, picked over and soaked overnight
1 ham bone (left over from Christmas with some added meat)
½ LB of Spanish cured chorizo
1 TBSP pimentón – sweet Spanish paprika
1 large pinch of saffron threads
1 large onion – rough chop
1 small sprig of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves – preferably fresh but dry is fine
1 TBSP of chicken flavored Better than Bouillon
6-7 cloves of garlic – left whole
2 large potatoes – scrapped and cut into small/medium cubes
1 carrot – scrapped and chopped fine
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper (add seasonings last as the ham, bouillon and the chorizo are already salty)
8 cups of water
Drain and rinse the beans. In a large Dutch oven, add about 2 TBSP olive oil and sweat the onion, garlic cloves lightly smashed with their peels and bay leaf for about 5-6 minutes. Add the pimentón and the saffron threads mixing well with the onion/garlic. Add carrot, cannellini beans, Better than Bouillon, the rosemary sprig, half the cubed potatoes, the hambone and the 6 cups of water, bringing it to a boil. Simmer for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, half covered until the beans are almost tender. (Ensure the beans and hambone are covered with the liquid)
Add the chorizos and the rest of the potatoes and cook an additional 45 minutes till (add a bit more water if the soup is very thick) the rest of the potatoes are cooked through and the chorizo and beans are very tender.
Remove the hambone and the chorizos. Cut the chorizos into smaller pieces and remove as much meat from the ham as possible, adding it back to the soup. Discard the bay leaves. Test the soup for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
Three cans of cannellini beans can be substituted to expedite the process. Drain and rinse them well prior to adding them to the pot. The cooking time will be similar – even though the beans are cooked, they need to become creamy, plus the full-bodied flavors typical of this dish need to develop. Lessen the water to 5-6 cups. Soup is assuredly better the next day.