Beans are usually a side dish, but they are the star in Asturias. Asturias native and chef José Andrés explained to Anthony Bourdain on a recent trip to his hometown that fabada asturiana (bean stew) is such a hearty dish, you would think it should be the main course. This is Andrés’ recipe for a stew that you’re sure to find in every Asturian home.
½ pound fabes (or other large white beans)
1 quart chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
2 blood sausages
¼ pound slab bacon
1 head garlic, whole, with the outer layers of papery skin removed
1 onion, peeled
1 teaspoon pimentón
1 pinch saffron threads, crushed
½ cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
The night before you make the stew, place the beans in a large pot and cover with cold water to soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the beans. Return the beans to the pot and add the chicken stock, chorizo, blood sausage, bacon, garlic, and onion. Bring it all to a slow boil, skimming any foam that comes to the surface. When the liquid comes to the boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer and add the pimentón, saffron, and olive oil. Let the beans cook for 2 to 2½ hours, adding a little cold water every 10 to 15 minutes to slow the cooking process and make sure the beans stay covered in liquid. When the beans are tender, remove the pot from the heat and let it rest for about an hour.
Remove and discard the onion and garlic. Slice the chorizo, blood sausage, and bacon and set them aside. The beans should be thick and creamy. If they’re watery, take out ½ cup or so from the pot and crush them into a paste, which you can then stir back into the rest of the beans to thicken the stew. When you’re ready to serve, spoon the beans into four bowls, then top each one with slices of the meat. Serve hot.