Potaje de Garbanzos
I make beans with an accent. I understand all of the elements, but they don’t always flow together as easily as I would like. A staple of Latin American cooking, I should know them better than I do. Having only developed a taste for them as an adult, I refused all forms of frijoles, lentejas, or garbanzos when I was younger. Now that I appreciate what I’ve been missing and want to make them all the time, I feel like I’m being punished for my earlier brattiness with inconsistent batches of beans. If only I’d paid better attention when my grandparents were cooking, I’d have a freezer full of stews and soups to get me through the winter.
With a blizzard on the way, I knew I’d be home bound so I thought it would be the perfect day to make a big, slow-cooking pot of garbanzos. Despite the declared snow day, I sent myself to chick-pea school and looked through every garbanzo recipe I had. By comparing, I was able to pick up tips and see where I’d gone wrong before. I knew I wanted chorizo but not hamhock, pimentón but not saffron, and something heartier than soup but lighter than stew. Worried less about the perfect result and more about just figuring it out, it was a good batch day.
Potaje de Garbanzos/Chickpea Stew
1 pound dried chickpeas
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Spanish-style chorizos (about 1/2 pound) with the skin removed and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1/4 pound smoked ham, cubed
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (labeled pimentón)
1 bay leaf
1 pound of russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
Optional add-ins to be added with potatoes: malanga, carrots, shredded cabbage
Revised as of August 22, 2009.
Soak chickpeas in water with a pinch of baking soda overnight, about 10-12 hours. Drain and rinse well.
In a large heavy pot, pour 6 cups of hot water over chickpeas. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until just tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and reserve 2-3 cups of the cooking water.
Using a mortar and pestle or garlic press, mash the garlic cloves with salt and pepper to form a smooth paste. Set aside. To make the sofrito, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and sauté about 5 minutes until soft. Add the mashed garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Add the chorizo and cubed ham and sauté until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, wine and bay leaf to the sofrito and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
Return chickpeas to the large pot with 2 cups of the reserved cooking water, add more if needed. Add the potatoes and sofrito mixture to the chickpeas. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked through, the desired consistency is a matter of taste. It can be served immediately as soup or allowed to cook a little longer, uncovered, for a thicker stew, about 15 minutes. Serve on its own with bread or over rice.
Makes 6-8 servings
Notes: This stew freezes extremely well for up to a couple of months. Once cooled, portions can be well sealed in freezer bags, defrosted and reheated with a little added water or broth as needed.