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Catalan food, as observed by my friend Sebina, can be a little heavy sometimes. This mainly comes down to a love of recipes involving beans, especially in conjunction with lots of pork products. A classic combination is Botifarra amb Mongetes, sausage and beansâ€¦ but that’s a tad dull if you ask me. Instead, I prefer ‘Beans a la Catalana‘, made with either mongetes (big white beans) or fabes (young green broad beans). This is my made up recipe for Mongetes a la Catalana, another great rustic dish for wintry days and evenings. The measures are based on serving four or five people. (photo byÂ JaulaDeArdilla)
What you will need:
- About 700g of good Mongetes blanques. Go for ‘ganxet’ type as these seem to be better. When I say 700g, I mean when they’re still in their water, in the jar. Strain them but do not wash them.
- 3 strips of good panceta/cansalada/pork belly, cut into large postage stamp-sized pieces. Not too large, mind you.
Sausage. Go for about 400g of botifarra sausage (chopped up as well). I used some mini chipolatas with black truffle but I don’t know how easy these are to come by
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (or whatever you call it)
- Handful of chopped parsley
- Dash of white wine
- Good olive oil
- About 15 mins
What you need to do:
Heat a nice amount olive oil to medium-high temperature (around level 5 on my cooker) in a large, heavy frying pan. Add the panceta, making sure to add plenty of salt (it’ll be a bit tasteless otherwise). After a minute or two, add the sausages. Fry the meat for 5-10 minutes, until it browns. Ensure the oil doesn’t get too hot and that the meat doesn’t burn. It might well spit a bit at this point (the fatty panceta does like to ‘pop’ from time to time). When browned, remove the meat with a slatted device, and place in a bowl.
Let the oil cool down a little bit before continuing. Get the heat down to medium/medium-low.
Now throw the garlic and parsley into the pan. If you got the oil temperature right, it’ll fry but not burn immediately (that happened to me the first time I tried this). Fry for about a minute. Now add the strained beans and stir together for another minute. Here, I like to add a dash of white wine, just to provide a bit of liquid to the dish. Don’t add more than a glass. When the wine has reduced down, add the meat again. Cook it all together for about four or five minutes (keeping the heat really low), and that’s it.
Serve a fairly small portion in a bowl with pa amb tomaquet and a glass of decent red wine. This dish is filling, warming and really yummy. Hope you enjoy it!
Catavino Wine note: We would highly suggest you pair the food with a wine having a touch of body. Personally, we love old vine Carignan from Montsant or Garnacha – something with a bit of “beef ” to it so it can stand up to the rich unctuous fat and thick sauce. Conversely, we have found that a Brut Nature Cava is often times the best pairing you can choose. In fact, while in Catalunya, any Cava is a good option! We think it might be a Catalan conspiracy to make all their food Cava friendly!
Tom Clarke lives in the suburbs of Barcelona and blogs in his spare time. He loves Catalan cuisine and is a fierce proponent of the qualities of Bujorn 2007, his most recent discovery from the Priorat DOQ.