This hearty bean dish hails from Spain's northern region of Asturias and can best be described as Spain's version of "cassoulet." It incorporates various sausages--including morcilla or blood sausage--pimenton, saffron and tocino or bacon. It is perfect in wintertime and is lighter than its French counter-part.
Ingredients (serves 8-12 depending on serving portion):
-2 pounds Astorga beans (see sources below) from Asturias. If you cannot find these substitute large dried runner or cannellini beans
-6 Spanish morcilla (blood sausage)
-6 Spanish chistorra sausages
-1 pound best quality slab bacon (one whole piece)
-1 jamon serrano ham hock (optional)
-2 cloves of garlic
-2 tablespoons Spanish paprika/pimenton picante
Soak the beans over night in cold water and rinse. In a large heavy pot cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Skim off and discard the foam that rises to the top. Add a generous pinch of saffron and the paprika to the beans and stir through. Cut the onion in half and add to the pot. Add the ham hock and bacon. Reduce heat to a steady simmer/gentle boil. Cook until the beans are about half way done (30-40 minutes). Be sure to check the beans often as every bean is different and cook times may vary significantly.
Cut up the blood sausage and add it to the pot. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the beans are done. They should start to fall apart a little but most will be whole. Season aggressively with salt to taste. Serve the fabada in bowls with a generous allotment of blood sausage for each guest and a good crusty bread such as ciabatta.
James is a food writer and Bay Area chef who owns and runs a private dinner party and cooking class business specializing in regional Italian and Spanish cuisine. See CookWithJames.com