Siri and I were walking on the canal tow path earlier in the week and we were loving the fall weather. It was a beautiful sunny day. One of those days where I felt thankful that I live in such a great town and have access to a state park right out my back gate! The air was cool and crisp. A slight breeze stirred the trees and leaves were starting to collect on the path. When cooler weather arrives I start thinking of cooking up some comfort food. Maybe it was time for a batch of Cuban garbanzo beans.
After shopping for the week, that evening I sorted and cleaned a 1 lb. bag of dried chick peas. Then I put them in a large pot and covered them with fresh cool water by 2". The next morning I made a delicious stew that I enjoyed the rest of the week.
Here's the recipe:
1) Strain the pre-soaked beans in a colander and rinse under cold water. Put them back in the pot and add enough water to cover them by about 2". Add a splash of Olive Oil, 2 Bay Leaves and 3 Large Sprigs of Fresh Oregano (You can substitute a large pinch of dried. I just happened to have it in my herb garden.) Do not add salt at this point. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Cubans love ham hocks in their beans (as well as salt pork, but that's another story...). I buy my ham hocks at None Such Farm. They are rather large! The quality, though, is superb. Great flavor.
2) After 30 minutes add to the pot: 1 Large Ham Hock; Spanish Choriso, 8" piece cut into 1/4" rounds, then cut in half; 3 Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks; 3-4 Large Carrots, scrubbed or peeled and cut into chunks. Stir to combine. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
3) In the meantime prepare your Sofrito vegies: Dice 1 Small Onion and 1 Small Green Bell Pepper. Mince 6 (yes 6) Small Garlic Cloves. After 25 minutes or so of cooking beans with the added meat and vegies make your Sofrito. Heat a large skillet on high. Add a big glug of good quality Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. When it's nice and hot, but not smoking, add the diced onion and pepper. Season with salt and pepper, lower heat to medium-high and sautee gently until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic. Season with another pinch of salt. Stir and sautee until fragrant. Add about 1 Tbsp each of Ground Cumin and Sweet Spanish Paprika (Pimenton). Stir and toast a bit. Add 1/4 cup Tomato Sauce. Stir to combine.
Sofrito is the base of all Latin cuisine.
4) After the garbanzos have cooked for 45 minutes with the meat and vegies add the sofrito and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes more to combine the flavors. Taste beans and season as needed. Remove the ham hock to a cutting board and let cool slightly.
The ham hock is chopped and then added to the beans.
5) When the ham hock is cool enough to handle, but not cold. Remove the meat from the bones and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add this back to the beans and stir. At this point taste the beans. You may want to add, like my mom, tia (aunt) and abuela (grandmother) all did, a tsp of Sugar and a large splash of Cider or White Wine Vinegar. I definitely do this as it adds a nice touch, balancing the sweet and savory notes.
Dinner was delicious!
This makes a complete meal with just a salad, but, of course, when I was growing up we would eat it over rice. There would also be another starch (maybe plantains) and a protein, along with a salad and veg. That's a lot of food, huh? But I have such fond memories of sitting around the table with my familia and devouring everything on my plate.
Note: This recipe can be made in exactly the same way using red kidney beans (my favorite when my mom would make it) or a white bean, like navy beans. Also, it can be made as a vegetarian dish by omitting the meats. I would just make sure you have a very flavorful sofrito.
Anyway...Thanks for checking in. Enjoy! Happy fall!