Spanish Sausage and Baccalo Stew. That Can’t Work!

We were on a trip to the North of Spain recently, flying into the beautiful city of Santander and travelling to the regional capital Oviedo. If your view of Spain is formed by drinking copious pints of Watneys Red Barrel and eating the all-day English breakfast down on the Costa Del Sol, then you need to broaden your horizons and travel north to Asturias.

We spent a couple of days enjoying the wine, seafood, wine and evening wine with tapas and wine in both Santander and Oviedo. The average day started with a light breakfast followed by a vast multi-course seafood lunch and then on to an evening of wine and tapas. A mid day trip to the food market in Santander yielded some baccalo and a few uncooked pork and paprika sausages. Having sneaked them back into Ireland, I thought I should prepare something to honour the food of Northern Spain. I settled on a Bean with Spanish Sausage and Baccalo Stew. As soon as I mentioned it, I suffered a backlash. “Sausage and fish! That can’t work.” “Don’t waste the ingredients.” “Do something different”. I needed all my resolve to go with my plan. So, here it is.


  • 1 kilo of dried butter beans
  • 1 kilo of baccalo (salted cod)
  • 400 grammes of best Spanish paprika and pork sausages
  • 3 onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 800 grammes of tinned tomatoes (2 tins)
  • 1.5 litres of good quality vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper

This dish takes a few days to prepare. The baccalo needs to be soaked and drained three times over three days before cooking. 

The baccalo is packed with lovely flavour. It looks very ordinary.

The butter beans need to be soaked overnight and, ideally, cooked ahead of adding them to the stew. Otherwise, they take a deal of cooking in the stew.

Reconstituting and cooking gives a far better stew than tinned beans.

On the day, the first thing to do is to slice both the sausages and chop the onions. Fry the sausage pieces in a dry pan.

These are beautiful sausages.

They will release a huge amount of fat. Remove the sausage and add the chopped onions.

Like I say, they release a huge amount of fat (flavour).

Fry them until translucent. Add everything except the fish and sausage to a casserole and bring it to a gentle boil.  Let the casserole cook until the liquid thickens into a nice thick consistency.

There is a lot of flavour in this stew. Let it simmer for a couple of hours to really mature.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Slice the baccalo into bite size pieces. With about ten minutes to go before serving, add the baccalo and the sausage. Stir to combine. The stew needs no addition of carbohydrate, the beans doing that job.

Sausage and fish DO work together.

This is a really excellent stew. I served eight people with it and had a couple of servings over. The sausage and fish worked perfectly together. Be brave and mix up your meat and fish.

A few bits of parsley decorates it nicely too.

I would also encourage you to visit the North of Spain if you get a chance. It is a beautiful, cultured and elegant part of the world. You won’t find an all-day English breakfast anywhere. But, that’s a good thing, is it not?

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  • It most definitely does work! Sausage, fish and bean stew is a Spanish staple and very nicely executed here too!
    You’ve reminded me of a bar in Atlanta, called the Yacht Club (Harleys lined up outside not boats), where they pride themselves on their imported beer. Their best seller (when I lived there in the 90s) was Watneys Red Barrel. I used to wonder if Watneys had it on cold storage from the 70s…

      • Oh yes – the jamón really is like vintage wine.
        I did get to know the staff in that bar quite well and informed them – they did habve some decent beer on draft too, but had no idea that Red Barrel was mediocre.

  • That salt cod looks of very good quality, much better than I usually see, but then again I don’t know too many who use it outside of Lent. It seems that Northern Spain, Basque country and Portugal have some interesting combinations that don’t seem natural, but come out delicious. Pork and little neck clams is one example that I love.

  • This surf and turf stew brings back tasty memories from a trip to Spain. Looks super delicious!

      • I actually visited Dublin a few years ago. Lovely city. Obviously, I tried local dishes/ingredients, rather than international cuisines. For that I believe New York (the REAL center of the universe! 😉 ) is a better option… 😀

        • Visit Melbourne, it makes New York look like it’s a bit player

  • Friends of my father’s in San Sebastian used to do the final soak of the bacalao in milk, and then save that for making a sauce for another fish dish, as it was ready seasoned and full of flavour. I love how in Spain they sometimes use sausage almost as a flavouring rather than as a protein. It’s so highly seasoned it makes perfect sense!

  • Yes, Conor, but how was the wine? 😉 This dish looks fantastic — as Ronit said: surf and turf. I would love to get my hands on a lovely hunk of salt cod like that. I could also see sneaking out a few tablespoons of that glorious sausage fat to fry up some potatoes for a little tapas later.

  • Conor – you are making a gradual but definite change in my thought and cooking patterns . . . as I have told I have this ‘dislike’ of bacalao because of prior experiences . . . well, I DO like the look of this and I’ll try again . . . . and I have meant to visit the north of Spain forever . . . glad you are going back again . . .

  • I live in Santander and love the food market you refer to. Great you enjoyed your time here and nice to hear you are already planning the return trip!!

  • No one can dispute that the Spanish and Portugese have the best Bacalao dishes and the rich piggy parikary flavours are a wonderful compliment. God don’t come to Oz if you want cheap wine, standard wine by the glass about $12

  • Conor, a similar dish was given to us by some friends in Madrid and I agree with MD – it works!!!

  • You should head to Logrono (rioja region) next time Connor. Best place in North Spain I’ve ever been.

  • Of course it isn’t a waste of ingredients to have seafood and meat in the same dish, gumbo anyone? I like the look of this dish. Whenever I visit Spain I certainly don’t look for English food. Despite my love of the full fry-up. 🙂

  • Conor – have you ever been to San Sebastian? Going there next month, and wondered whether you had an special recommends for places to eat/drink/bemerry…

  • Your combination of flavors sounds wonderful. We are doing a cruise this fall of France, Spain and Lisbon. One of our ports will be Bilbao which I think about an hour east of where you were.

      • With your stamina, you should lead the pack. Enjoy!

  • Absolutely gorgeous! The combination actually sounds (and looks) wonderful to me. Not sure I’ll be able to find fresh Spanish sausages around here (although we do have a Spanish deli, which I’ll definitely try.) Spanish chorizo might have to do—but I’m sure we won’t suffer too much…

  • wow…yummy I am in love with your baccalo stew,baked bread will be a great side dish with this delicious meal.

  • Somehow I missed this before. It looks great and so full of flavor. The combination of meat and seafood is also common in paella. Looks like you had a great time with all that wine!

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