Fabada de Asturiana and morcilla follow-up…

For me, fabada has a major design fault – no matter what you do with chorizo, it still has the texture of leather,** Even soft, cooking chorizo, turns out that way, though it’s acceptable sliced very thin. The answer, then, is to make my own chorizo, with a texture that suits me – not really difficult.

**Like many sausages that are 100% meat, though I find Bratwurst and other German sausages (also all meat), perfectly acceptable, so my chorizo will be lightened by the addition of rusk, in the form of dried fresh breadcrumbs from my own bread (as opposed to breadcrumbs made from stale bread, which tastes different – the only bread worth eating stale is a baguette).

The other thing I discovered is that morcilla** actually is very soft, much softer than black pudding, so what I saw as a fault in mine actually isn’t (my recipe was based on the info contained in a five-minute TV sequence, and an online product label). Mine do need more flavour, though and using a higher dehydrated blood to water ratio should fix that – plus not forgetting the paprika next time! Needs more salt too – I feared the blood might be salty, but it’s not – go figure. (Actually, that’s something else that made me think it’s too dilute.)

I’ve removed my recipe from my blog until I have a chance to make it again, somewhat revised – I’m not leaving a poor recipe up when I can do better.

The real bummer, though, with the fabada, is too much salt. Rick Stein’s recipe calls for a teaspoon, which I considered way too much, and just added a good pinch. Even that was too much, rendering it uneatably salty and, clearly, the amount of added salt it really needs is zero.

I’d also recommend not using panceta as I did (the recipe calls for bacon, also a high salt risk), as that’s cured with salt as well as paprika, but a couple of slices of quality belly pork (i.e., with more meat than fat), should be good, and won’t add unwanted salt (note: I like salt, and it if find a dish too salty, you can be certain that it is!). Frying the belly pork a little first will improve the mouth-feel of the fat (for me, at least, boiled fat has few charms when it’s served hot – totally different taste/texture when cold, though).

So there we go – nothing that can’t be fixed by a little DIY in the form of my own chorizo and morcilla, plus belly pork in place of bacon or panceta (which, of course, like its Italian cousin, is just streaky bacon from slightly up-market pigs).

And finally, I’ve treated myself to a copy of Claudia Roden’s new “The Food of Spain” – a book superior in almost every way to Stein’s. For example, there is onion in her fabada recipe (as with my own), and, equally important – NO SALT! Stein please note… Er, wrong, there is salt, and  – aaaargh! – salt pork too! Roden does have a suggestion – a good one too – cook the beans and meats separately, and combine at the end. While she doesn’t say so, using only a part of the meat stock to flavour the beans will dramatically reduce the salt content, something of which the Spanish are inordinately fond. And yet, despite the doom-sayers of the salt police, it hasn’t decimated the population.We’re on the same page regarding fat thought, even if not salt, as she, too, removes a lot of it, as I did.

And she provides vastly more information about ingredients, and their regional variations (there are several variations on the theme of morcilla that I really must make, including one from Malaga containing cloves, coriander, oregano, cumin and black pepper!).

The book is clearly a labour of love (Roden is a Sephardic Jew by descent, and that history shines through – I also have a Sephardic cookery book somewhere – must dig it out), as well as time spent immersed in the culinary culture of Spain – not just a canter through, at speed and often, if I’m any judge, frequently pissed, in the company of a TV crew.

Highly recommended.