La Vuelta Gastronómica – Pote Asturiano (Almost Vegan Version)

Pote Asturiano

A series to pay homage to the biggest cycling event in Spain: La Vuelta a España. You can join this tour without a bike, but not with an empty stomach. For more Spanish recipes on this series, follow this link.

Oh, it’s hard to keep up to the pros! It’s been exactly one month since Peter Sagan was doing no-handed wheelies up the Anglirú in Asturias, and I had yet to post the recipe that I had in mind for that stage. Luckily, there is no better time to enjoy this dish than on a fall, rainy evening. If you live in a place like Vancouver, where we have been waking up to the rain every day since October came, my delay may work just as well.

Spanish traditional cuisine is packed with one pot stews that require little cooking skills, but some preparation and time – lots of it. Each Spanish region translates the legumes and meats available in their area into their own interpretation of the ultimate homey stew. So you’ll find Madrileños enjoying their very “contundente” (heavy), two-course chickpea Cocido, Catalans savouring  Escudella, and Asturians showcasing their beloved fabes in a number of these meals, including this Pote Asturiano.

Fabes Asturianas are big, broad white beans, usually sold dried, and that have a tender, almost buttery texture when cooked. They may be hard to come by outside the Asturian region, especially if you live outside Spain. But you could still attempt this dish with other types of broad white beans, such as cannelini beans. You’ll be losing some authenticity points, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Firstly, because I am sure it will be delicious, in its own way. And second, because Asturians have a tendency to claim that their typical products lose all the properties that make them so special as soon as they are brought over the Puerto de Pajares – the mountain pass that connects Asturias with León and the rest of southern Spain to the south. Or at least so they claim with their drink of choice: the Sidra Asturiana, a non-gasified, natural apple cider that would be a good pair for this dish.

This is a simpler, lighter version than the traditional recipe, which includes more varieties of pork sausages and meats. It has my mom’s seal of approval (she prepared the one in the picture when she visited) and can also be easily “veganized” by simply omitting the chorizo sausage: the paprika flavour will keep it extra-tasty even without it – this is even more true if you save some to eat the day after.

Pote Asturiano - Ingredients

Difficulty: A long climb, but with a very mild slope

Time: 10 mins (preparation) + 3 hours (cooking time)

To avoid flat tires: Always retire the pan from the burner when you add the paprika. It can burn easily, otherwise.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4:

  • 400 g fabes
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 potato, cut into cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika *
  • 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika *
  • a pinch salt
  • a couple of bay leaves
  • 1 chorizo (only needed for unrepentant carnivores)

* Spanish smoked paprika from La Vera region (pimentón de La Vera) is a MUST. It is readily available in most grocery stores in Vancouver, and I have been able to find it in most of my journeys and while living in Northern Europe as well. Believe me, you’ll understand why when you try it…

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Soak fabes overnight (for at least 12 hours).
  2. Drain the beans and pour into a stockpot, along with the chorizo and the bay leaves, covering with water.
  3. Bring to a boil, lower heat and then cover.
  4. The beans need to be cooked for a around 2-3 hours, but you should check frequently during this time: whenever the water level goes down. you need to add some more cold water. This process is called “asustar las fabes” – this literally means that you want to “scare” those not-so-little beans… You want to do this 2 or 3 times while the beans are cooking, adding only small quantities of water, so that the boil is interrupted for just some seconds.
  5. When the beans start to get tender, heat some olive oil in a pan and add the garlic.
  6. When the garlic turns golden, remove the pan from heat and add the smoked paprika and kale, stirring so that garlic and kale are covered in paprika. NOTE: Paprika is easily burnt, so it’s always best to add it while the pan is not on the burner.
  7. Pour kale, garlic and paprika mix to the stockpock where beans are cooking.
  8. Add potatoes and leave cooking for one extra 45 mins to 1 hour or until tender.
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