There aren’t many things I enjoy more than cooking with good friends. In Spain, that’s not so hard to do, since pretty much everybody loves good food, and enjoys sharing their favorite dish with you. This year I’ve been super lucky to spend a lot of cooking and learning time with two different friends who both happen to be chefs.  I know, poor me…

Rosario shared a recipe that is not something you’re likely to find in the Rocky Mountains — White Beans with Octopus.  When she told me what we were preparing, I was excited to try something new.  Oops…  then I realized… poor Al.  He’s an incredibly good sport, but not really a seafood fan.  Especially when it comes to things that are kinda purple and have 8 legs.  That’s what happens when you live most of your life land-locked.  But he ate it anyway, and graciously thanked Rosario for the great meal.

Rosario Cooking White Beans

Since most of our friends are kinda like Al — not really interested in searching out tentacled seafood – the recipe I’m sharing with you today is my slight variation of the classic version of this dish — Alubias con Chorizo (White Beans with Sausage). But if you’re truly adventurous, I’ve included Rosario’s recipe with octopus, and you’ll also find a vegetarian / vegan option at the bottom of the recipe. Enjoy! And let me know if you hunt down some octopus and give it a try.

White Beans with Chorizo
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Hearty Winter Dish
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 4 - 5 servings
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces white beans (Cannellini or Great Northern work best, as they hold up when cooked) NOTE: Experiment with any type of bean you like – just be aware that some will hold their shape and texture better than others.
  • 2 fresh Spanish style Chorizos – Cut into bite-size pieces. Substitute any type of sausage that you like, such as Italian.
  • ¼ - ⅓ lb Pork with a bit of fat – cut into about 1” pieces
  • NOTE: Below are the more traditional vegetables used in this recipe. But you may substitute any veg that you like – except don’t omit the tomato. And the potato will give the stock some nice consistency, but is optional.
  • 1 large fresh Tomato, chopped small
  • 1 Med Carrot, cut into about ¼” cubes
  • 1 Med Potato, peeled and cut into about ½” cubes
  • Fresh or frozen spinach or other greens (if using frozen, thaw and squeeze out excess liquid). For both types, chop in large coarse pieces.
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp Spanish Smoked Paprika (optional). Substitute sweet paprika if you don’t like a slightly smoky flavor.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • ¼ C. Finely diced Italian Parsley
  • 1 Bay leaf
Instructions
  1. Soak the beans overnight in water, making sure to cover with plenty of water so they don’t dry out.
  2. Add a thin layer of olive oil to a heavy pot or Dutch Oven. Saute the meat in the oil until well browned. Don’t use too much oil, as the fat will cook out of the meat as well. Stir continuously to prevent sticking, but brown well.
  3. Set the meat aside. Keep the drippings in the pot. If there is more than about ¼ “ layer of oil in the pot, remove some to prevent the dish from being too greasy.
  4. Make a sofrito – saute the onions until transparent. Add the rest of the vegetables, except any greens that you're using, and saute til they begin to soften, and soak up the flavors of the drippings in the pan. You should not have a lot of fat floating in the pot. If you do, drain it off.
  5. Add spices, except bay leaf, adjusting to your taste. Saute 5 more minutes to toast the spices.
  6. Add the meat back to the pot. Drain the soaked beans and add to the pot. Add enough water to cover the beans. Stir well to combine all ingredients
  7. Add Bay leaf
  8. Cover the pot and cook on medium heat, allowing it to bubble a little (NOT boil!), and cook for about 1 hour. Check occasionally and stir, and be sure there’s always a little water covering the beans. Continue cooking until beans are done to your liking (at altitude it will take a little longer). Add the greens about 15 minutes before the beans are done.
  9. If using a Dutch Oven you may also cook this in the oven with low heat for several hours, but be sure to check periodically for liquid to ensure the dish doesn’t dry out.
  10. The dish is ready when the beans are fork tender. Consistency should be a thick stew-like dish. Serve in bowls with good crusty bread.
  11. VARIATION 1 – VEGETARIAN / VEGAN BEANS
  12. Follow the basic instructions above. Instead of using meat, add any additional vegetables that you like. Important! To ensure a deep rich flavor, use vegetable stock instead of water to cover the beans and vegetables. Adjust the spices to your preferences.
  13. VARIATION 2 – BEANS WITH SEAFOOD
  14. Note: This may sound like a strange combination – beans with seafood. But if you like fish, give it a try. This version is really tasty and satisfying. If you can get your hands on octopus (pulpo) that’s my favorite variation.
  15. Follow the basic instructions above, except:
  16. Substitute any combination of seafood that you like, such as shrimp and cod, or other fairly firm fish cut into bite-size chunks. No need to pre-cook the seafood.
  17. Either make or buy fish stock, and substitute that for the water to cook the beans and vegetables.
  18. Add the fish in the last 10 – 15 minutes of cooking, after the vegetables are nearly done.