Appetizers/ Fish/ Meat/ Recipe/ Sides

Habas Con Jamon (Broad Beans with Jamon)

There was a beautiful little restaurant in Spain.

 

It was quaint and unique and out of the way… Or so it seemed.

 

Once inside, the parlor style room expanded for what looked like miles, glass walls showcased the dozens of tapas style foods you could order, wine lined the shelves, and Las Ramblas (Barcelona’s major shopping/tourist street) was only a few feet away.

 

It was loud.

 

Hot.

 

Sweaty.

 

And it smelled delicious.

 

While we were in Barcelona we tried to avoid the tourist district as much as we could. Finding most of the food in the area over priced and mediocre in flavor and style we stuck mainly to the neighborhood of Gracia, where we were staying. There were so many quaint little restaurants and shops, plazas, cafes and bars, parks, and long, narrow, cobblestone streets. It was exactly how I pictured Barcelona to be. Perfect.

 

Broad-Beans

 

However, the first time I had Habas Con Jamon (broad beans with jamon) we were not in Gracia. We were in the opposite of Gracia. We were on Las Ramblas.

 

Starving, tired, and dying of heat exhaustion (don’t go to Barcelona in August unless you want to lose your entire body weight in perspiration each day), we stumbled into a cafe for our first “daily special” meal.

 

They’re everywhere.

 

Three courses for 10 Euros (often including a glass of wine)!! And most places are air conditioned – thank GOD!

 

The one we chose wasn’t.

 

But there was a breeze and cold beer and wine.

 

That was enough for me!

 

Jamon Broad Beans

 

As my appetizer was brought out, a plate filled with brilliant greens and specks of golden brown filled my every sense. It was beautiful if not a supreme work of art, and it’s aroma was intoxicating. 

 

I hadn’t had fava beans before and didn’t really know what to expect.

 

But they were wonderful.

 

Flavorful, light (surprising given how much protein was on the plate), rich, fresh, and sensational.

 

Even in the heart of tourist Barcelona, we found the right restaurant.

 

Fresh Fava Beans

For New Years I tried to recreate that experience. Oh did I ever. This is one protein, meaty, flavor packed dish – and it sings of Barcelona. This recipe is adapted from The Food of Spain: A Journey for Food Lovers.

* You will need many more beans than you think. Once the casings are gone, there is significantly less volume than when you bought them. I recommend 1 and a half to 2 Lb per person with casings on.

** Jamon is a very special cured meat from Spain made from Iberian pigs which is carefully produced with very stringent guidelines. If you can’t find it you could substitute prosciutto but as I’ve discovered, it won’t have the same flavor as the good stuff. Try your local artisan meat shop or Italian deli. You can get it in Victoria at Ottavio’s Italian Bakery and Delicatessen.

Habas Con Jamon

Habas Con Jamon (Broadbeans with Jamon)

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 Lbs fava beans (aka broad beans)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 C yellow onion, peeled & diced (approx. 1 onion)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, peeled & crushed (approx. 2 garlic cloves)
  • 175g Jamón or Ibérico Spanish Ham (you can substitute smoked prosciutto if need be)
  • 2/3 C Verejo wine
  • ¾ C good quality chicken stock
  • Coarse sea salt + fresh cracked black pepper.

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the fava beans. This does take a bit of time but it's very easy. Snap off the top end of the bean and gently peel off the seam (like peas). Then gently wiggle your fingers inside to open the pod. Pop out the beans and discard the shells to the compost.
  2. Now here's the time consuming part: the beans are tricky and have a second shell. You'll need to bring a large pot of water to a boil, dump the beans in, boil for about 30 - 45 seconds to loosen the second casing and then immediately drain and run cold water over the beans to stop the cooking process and maintain their brilliant green color. Now you can carefully make a tear in the outer coating near the "bum" of the bean (when you see them you'll know what I mean) and just gently pinch the bean out of it's casing. Tada! Bright green broad beans! Again, compost the shell.
  3. Now’s the easy part: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, Jamón and garlic. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until onion softens.
  4. Add the prepared broad beans and wine and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half.
  5. Add the stock, reduce heat to low-medium, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 10, or until the beans are tender, and most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with coarse sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
  6. Serve hot and saddle up with some crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
  7. Enjoy!

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