This dish is based on a traditional Spanish stew, fabada. ‘Based on’ is once again the key phrase, but it’s a nice stew in its own right – I just don’t know what to call it that’s a bit snappy and exciting. Suggestions welcome!
It was also the product of having some black pudding in the fridge that had to be used up, but having little by way of funds to buy additional ingredients. I bought a pack of two pork loin steaks, which worked out at about 60p each, and had one last night (as you will have seen if you’re up to date) and combined the other with the black pudding and some flageolet beans, herbs, water and a bit of veg to make this rich stew. Tonight I had a couple of brainwaves about how to add other ingredients that I had round the house to make the stew even more interesting. Sometimes I have to trick myself into looking forward to eating something. I’m kind of fickle, and can go off the idea of a meal that I’ve made the day before. I think that part of it is about putting in time to preparing the food; quite often, if I just have to heat something in a pot or the microwave then I feel like I haven’t really cooked, and I’m not satisfied by the meal. So, to sidestep that problem, I decided to serve the stew in two ways, even though it was just me for dinner.
The first thing I decided to do was serve it up with the makings of fajitas; corn tortillas, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and yogurt instead of sour cream. I debated with myself about the cheese for a while, given that I’m avoiding eating it (unfortunate that I have some in the fridge, really). I allowed myself a little, and I’m hoping it won’t have too many ill-effects… The part that was going to take the time for this part of dinner was making the refried beans. I didn’t do them ‘properly’, because I used the wrong kind of beans and, even worse, got them out of a tin, as well as not adding fresh garlic or onion. Still though, they turned out pretty good, and I’ll be making them again to a more authentic recipe another time. The second half of dinner was stew baked in a corn tortilla and topped with an egg. I thought the creamy, richness of the egg yolk would really set off the black pudding in the stew – black pudding and egg is such a killer combo. This baked dish was sadly better in thought that in practise. I had the oven up too high, I think, because the egg yolk cooked through while the white was still a bit raw. I think a lower heat might have let the egg white set before the yolk was hard. It was nice enough but definitely far from perfect. Doesn’t look great, for that matter; at the high temperature the edges of the tortilla were really crisp and dark. It tasted good and not burnt, you can take my word for it. Still, a nice idea, though another time maybe I’d leave the tortilla out altogether and just bake up the stew with an egg on top. I also wonder if salting the egg before cooking was the wrong thing to do, I did notice that the yolk cooked unevenly…
So, to the recipes. First the stew. It’s not so much a recipe as a suggestion of things to put in a pot together. I started off with the pork, which I marinated in a rub of tomato paste, crushed sumac berries, chipotle Tabasco, lemon juice, paprika and plenty of garlic. A great big clove of garlic. Not as big as the cloves I got the time I opened a bulb of garlic to find that it was only split into about four cloves, that was mammoth garlic and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a vintage horror film, towering over black and white footage of women screaming and holding their hand to their mouths while the rest of the city more sensibly runs away from the garlic. Vampires look out for that one, that’s all Im saying. The pork was marinated for about seven hours before I cut it into bite-sized pieces, ready for the pot. Before I added te pork, though, I sauteed some thinly sliced onion in garlic oil and added several stems worth of thyme leaves. Then I added the pork and two thick slices of black pudding, cut into quarters. This black pudding would break up as the stew cooked to make a lovely thick base. I cooked the pork until browned all over, then added enough water to cover the meat and reduced the heat to a simmer. I added some lemon juice, sugar, saffron and a stem of rosemary, then left to cook gently for half an hour. After this time I added a diced yellow pepper and a can of flageolet beans. Flageolet beans were what I had in the cupboard, a more authentic addition would have been butter beans. I also added more black pudding, four thick slices cut into sixths, and stirred through. I let this simmer for ten minutes, which left the pepper soft but the black pudding still in chunks, if softened round the edges. I should really have waited and added the pepper at the last minute to maintain its crunch, but never mind. I fished out the rosemary stem, though the leaves were distributed through the stew so I couldn’t do much about that; I did find myself picking them out as I went along, though they wouldn’t have done me any harm if I’d just stopeed being so fussy and eaten them. I found that the black pudding meant that I didn’t have to season the stew much at all, though I just kept an eye on the water levels to keep it a good thickness. Again, it’s not an especially attractive dish, but they can’t all be works of art.
I made the refried beans thuswise: I heated two tablespoons of garlic oil in a wok until it was shiny and loose enough to coat the bottom of the wok. I drained a can of kidney beans – I bought value beans, because you often find that they’re already a bit mushy or bashed up. Well, that and the fact that I’m on a ‘week before pay day’ budget, so it worked out pretty well. I tipped the beans into the oil, stirred through and mashed with a potato masher. I then added four tablespoons of water to the beans and stirred through. This left a very watery mixture, unsurprisingly I suppose. I wasn’t too concerned about the consistency at this early stage, because I was going to leave them over the heat while I seasoned them, so I knew they’d thicken. To the beans, I added two teaspoons of lemon juice, about three quarters of a teaspoon of smoked sea salt, six dashes of chipotle Tabasco and eight dashes of jalapeno Tabasco. I’m trying to think of something I could have added that could be describe as a dot, and then I could make a morse code joke. I’m struggling, so let’s consider the joke made. It was hilarious, you really loved it. I’ve been watching Derren Brown, it’s working out really well for me…
Couple of late addition photos – one rolled fajita and one sort of soft taco:
Must dash now and leave you all without any kind of proper conclusion to this post (not that I can think of one anyway); Jamie’s on the telly.
Viewing: Jamie’s American Food Revolution. This recommendation may be withdrawn at any time during the series.