Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Viva Espana

In honor of my sister's homecoming (four years in Spain, home FOR GOOD on Friday!), here is a delicious Spanish stew from the effusive, inimitable Jose Garces. I made this tonight, in between a meeting with our wedding photographer and the premiere of season 5 of Top Chef, with plenty of time to spare. It's easy, uses totally accessible ingredients, and is hearty and so flavorful.

The fancy way to make Ham, Escarole and Bean Stew is to slowly simmer white beans in a rich pork stock, and then combine them with cooked pork butt. I am sure that is quite tasty, but a little unrealistic for a Wednesday evening. The easy way to make this dish, and the one I highly recommend you go with, is to substitute bacon and smoked ham for the cooked pork butt, and canned white beans for dried ones. Next time I might sprinkle in some Spanish paprika, but even without, this stew has a delicious, deep flavor. Great texture, too, with crispy bacon, soft potatoes and beans, and slippery bits of ham and escarole.

Spain in a bowl!--S

Ham, Escarole and Bean Stew

6 ounces lean slab bacon, sliced 1/4" thick and cut into 1/4" dice
1 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Yukon Gold potato (8 ounces), cut into 1/2" dice
3 c chicken or beef stock or low-sodium broth
6 ounces smoked ham, shredded (1 c)
One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
1/2 small head of escarole, cut into 1/2" ribbons (2 packed c)
Freshly ground pepper

1. In a saucepan, fry the bacon in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over moderately high heat until browned, about 6 minutes. Spoon off all but 1 T of the fat. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potato and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock and boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Add the ham, beans and escarole and season with pepper. Cook over moderately high heat until the escarole is tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine

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