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