Oh smoky, spicy, oily chorizo…how I love thee, let me count the ways. You are the reason (among a handful of others) that I could never be a vegetarian, despite my fondness for just about every type of fruit and vegetable. On that note, finding good quality Spanish chorizo here in the United States can be difficult. I have managed to track down some good Spanish chorizo here (they have a nice cheese selection as well), but not quite as flavorful as what I remember having in Spain. Any readers from Spain? Can you ship me some or smuggle some in for me? 🙂
I digress, back to the bean dish (although, my brain is still thinking chorizo, chorizo, chorizo).
It all starts with the sofrito, the foundation for this white bean dish.
Sofrito = a combination of aromatic ingredients which have been cut in very small pieces, and slowly sauteed in oil to develop its flavor.
Make a large batch of sofrito and freeze the rest (trust me, it won’t go to waste). Sofrito is great for seasoning meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, soups… There are many variations of sofrito depending on its country of origin. This one is pretty basic — onion, red bell pepper, garlic, salt and pepper, and tomato paste.
From there, it’s pretty much a one-pot meal, a dish you can prepare in advance and one that actually tastes even better the next day. Start by sauteing chorizo or pancetta in a pan, then remove, and set aside. The tasty drippings from the chorizo or pancetta are then used to flavor the sofrito and beans. I like the beans with a good amount of broth — so that it’s sort of a cross between a soup and a stew. The tomatoes and basil (both grown hydroponically this time of year) and rosemary add a nice fresh component. The dried chiles and smoked paprika lend a a whisper of heat. All and all, an ideal meal for a cold, winter’s night.
Thought about adding some clams and mussels and omitting the Parmesan. Have yet to try this version, but suspect it would be equally good.
When I originally made these white beans, I used pancetta rather than chorizo. I imagined myself sitting in this little osteria (lets say Florence, that sounds nice) with a glass of vino, enjoying the view. However, over time, this dish morphed, as I swapped out the pancetta for chorizo, and added some smoky Spanish paprika. It now has a Spanish rather than Italian flair.
Serve with a full-bodied white or an old-world, rustic red wine…
Winter White Beans
For the Sofrito
makes 1/2 cup (double, triple, or quadruple this recipe, and freeze (up to 3 months))
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Pulse the onions in a food processor until finely chopped, but not puréed (you should have about 1 cup). Transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse the bell pepper in the food processor until finely chopped, but not puréed (you should have about 1/2 cup); add to the bowl with the onions and mix well.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion-red pepper mixture and season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are completely softened, about 30 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste begins to turn deep red, about 3 minutes.
Note: You can store the sofrito in the refrigerator for up to four days or freeze for up to 3 months.
To finish the dish:
1/4 pound Spanish chorizo (~1/4 inch) sliced or pancetta (~1/4 inch) cubed (I prefer chorizo)
1/2 cup sofrito
1 1/2 pounds (~4 cups) cooked beans (approx. 12 ounces dried beans)
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
2-3 dried chiles
1/2 pound tomatoes, chopped — or grape/cherry tomatoes sliced in half (or substitute half of a 14.5-ounce can of tomatoes; although, I prefer fresh over canned for this dish)
Parmesan cheese, to grate on top
Basil for garnish, leaves roughly torn
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Heat a larger skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced chorizo and saute 2 1/2 to 3 minutes (if using pancetta, saute 5-6 minutes until lightly browned). Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, heat the sofrito and the cooked beans over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 1 minute.
Stir in 3 cups broth, chopped rosemary, paprika, dried chiles, and season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer until they are tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the reserved chorizo or pancetta. Remove skillet from heat. Grate some Parmesan cheese on top. Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with basil. Ladle into individual bowls. Serve immediately.