Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Potaje de Garbanzo's Con Espinaca (Chickpea and Spinach Stew)

This is a very simple, healthy, Spanish stew, I learned to make it not from my grandmother (Tata) but from Nuria and her wonderful blog "Spanish Recipes", all the way from Barcelona, Spain.

This stew is delicious, garbanzo beans are boiled and simmered with ham bones and a whole onion for a good deal of time creating a flavorful stock from the bones, and the onion gave the stock a slight sweet taste. To make it even better a flavorful sofrito of cooked down onions, garlic, and tomato with bacon is incorporated into the stew. All this is married with Spinach in such a wonderful way.

However, I didn't follow her recipe exactly step by step but it's almost the same way, for one I used a meaty pork bone I had leftover from a large Cuban roast leg of pork I made way back, and I added 1 heaping teaspoonful of sweet smoked Spanish paprika, which I love. Besides that it's almost the same recipe and of course we all have our ways of doing things so the procedures are slightly different :)

Eating hardy Spanish stews is nothing new to me, growing up my grandmother would always make flavorful hardy bean stews, but we never had a stew with garbanzo's and green leafy spinach, the only stew we ate with greens was "Caldo Gallego" (a white bean and turnip green or Swiss chard stew typical of Galicia, Spain) but this combination of Spinach and Garbanzo's was something new to me that I was excited to try.

My family loved it, my grandmother (Tata) really appreciated it, the recipe was familiar and comforting to me yet new at the same time, and I think this stew will be one of those bean stews that will become part of my families recipes and it's here to stay :)

Ingredients for boiling chickpeas:
-1 lbs. dried chickpeas (soaked over night and drained)
-water (enough to cover chickpeas 2 inches)
-1 large ham bone or pork bone
-1 medium onion
-salt to taste

Ingredients for the rest of the dish:

-1/2 lbs. bacon cut into cubes or 1 inch pieces
-olive oil (enough to evenly coat the bottom of a pan)
-1 onion minced
-6 cloves garlic minced
-1/2 can 4 oz. tomato sauce or 3 small ripe tomatoes pureed or 1 large ripe tomato pureed
-1 teaspoonful sweet smoked Spanish paprika (optional)
-2 bunches of spinach (coarsely chopped, washed well, and drained)

(1) Soak garbanzos over night in cold water, then drain then next day and drain. Another method you can use is bring to a boil with water 3 minutes, then soak for 2-4 hours, drain and they are ready to use.

(2) Now that garbanzos are ready add enough water to submerge them 2-3 inches, the ham or pork bone, and 1 whole onion, and if desired a little salt. Bring to a boil on high heat, then cover and lower heat to medium low to low. It can take anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 3 hours it all depends on how old your garbanzos are.

(3) Meanwhile, heat olive oil on medium high heat, add cut bacon and cook until it renders fat,
then minced onion 5-7 minutes, saute until translucent, then add minced garlic cook until fragrant about 2-3 minutes,
add the teaspoonful of sweet smoked Spanish paprika if using, stir 30 seconds
and add tomato sauce. Let the tomato sauce cook down a bit into a oily paste about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Set aside.
(4) When beans are tender, remove the ham bone, remove any meat from the bone if any
and add it back to the stew, and discard the onion (if you like the onion, and don't want to throw it out, you can julienne it into thick strips and throw it back in the stew). Stir in the flavorful "sofrito" (sauteed onion, garlic, tomato you cooked down with bacon)
stir it in
(5) Add cleaned chopped spinach, and let it cook an additional 5 minutes.
(6) Serve with some bread or rice or alone.
-Do not be tempted to use canned garbanzo beans, it will NOT I repeat will NOT be the same for this dish, this is a very simple dish, using little ingredients and really no spices I just felt like adding sweet smoked Spanish paprika because I love the flavor, so it's important you make a flavorful base by allowing uncooked garbanzos to boil a long time with pork bones making a very flavorful base. If you must used canned I recommend letting the bones boil at least 2-3 hours and prepare the dish as recipe instructs except add the garbanzos towards the end. BUT honestly if your going to take the time to boil the pork bones 2-3 hours then you should just boil it together with the garbanzo's :)

For those looking for a quick fix look elsewhere you can check out my quick "Guiso de Garbanzo Con Chorizo" (Chickpea, Sausage, and Pork Pot) or Nuria's short cut recipe for "Garbanzos Con Espinaca" in which she sautee's chickpeas with blood sausage, pine nuts, and spinach :)