Thursday 17 September 2009

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum

Just as I announced some days ago here's one of those typical Spanish dishes that screams passion! at the visitor. Fabada Asturiana (Asturian Bean and Sausage Pot) is the king (or queen, it's feminine in Spanish) of local delicacies in Asturias. Luckily I had mine in the evening after a strong cup of coffee, otherwise I would have fallen asleep behind the wheel. This is a hearty, plain dish whose richness comes from the cooking process; the smell alone is worth the calories.

Fabada Asturiana (Asturian Bean and Sausage Pot)

1 lb 10 oz dried butter beans (fabas)
1 1/2 lb salt pork belly
1 1/2 lb smoked gammon knuckle or hock, skin slashed
6 black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pinch of powdered saffron
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb chorizos or smoked sausages
6 oz black pudding


Choose a stockpot that holds at least 10 pint (6 liter). Cover the beans, in a bowl, with plenty of boiling water. Put the salt meat (pork belly, brisket or silverside and gammon bone) into the pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then drain the meat and return to the stockpot.

Drain the beans then add to the pot with the pepper-corns, paprika and saffron and bay leaf. Add 4 pints (2.3 liter) water. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer very gently on minimum heat for 2 hours. A big pot on a small burner is best, and better still with a heat diffuser (such as the ones used to prepare paella). Check occasionally that the beans are still covered, but do not stir (or they will break up).

Remove the ham bone and salt pork, to cool a little. Strip off the skin and fat, and take about 2 tablespoons of chopped fat for frying. Sweat this in a frying pan. Fry the garlic lightly, then spoon it into the beans.

Fry the sliced sausages and black pudding (discarding artificial casings). Stir into the pot with the pan fat.

Remove all the meat from the gammon bone. Chop it, and the salt pork or beef, and return to the casserole; simmer for a few minutes. Check the seasonings (there should be enough salt from the meat).

This dish is distinctly spicy, so with that in mind the music must be able to provide the same degree of hotness and richness. Rhythm with a kick, if you like.

That's why my first guest tonight is a somewhat youngish Paco de Lucia performing 'Entre Dos Aguas', one of his most famous compositions.

My second choice brings back memories aplenty. And I'm sure it will to those of a 'certain age', too. Little River Band with 'Take It Easy On Me'. Man, alive, singing and chewing gum at the same time, how many people can do that, huh?

The third track tonight is a strong reminder to me personally of why I blog, why I laugh with all my teeth showing, why I live life to the full, why I love. The first lines should be self-explanatory enough to convince anyone that in today's world if someone gives you attention, respect, affection, please, don't turn it away, take it, especially if they carry a plate of hot, steaming fabada asturiana in their hands. In this world, if you read the papers, lord/You know everybody's fighting on with each other/You got no one you can count on, baby/Not even your own brother/So if someone comes along/He's gonna give you some love and affection I'd say get it while you can, yeah!/Honey, get it while you can, Hey, hey, get it while you can/Don't you turn your back on love, no, no!

My last track tonight is a very popular song that needs no introduction. Just go easy on the dancing after you've eaten that rich fabada. Many thanks.

Next Post: Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music, to be published on Sunday 20th September at 10am (GMT)

Copyright 2009


  1. what a great comfort food recipe...thanks...and Greetings from mexico city..

  2. Recipe looks delish - but I'd have to leave out the animal products. Bet it would still be good.

    I'm still listening to the Joplin cut. Supper and a song. Thanks!!

  3. My mouth is watering for my great grandfather's fabada after this post. ¡Que delicia! You know I'll be buying the ingredients for this over the weekend...if I get my truck back from the shop. If not, I may have to fly to Asturias.

    Btw, I love the new look of your blog. ¡A bailar se ha dicho!

  4. Hi Mr C

    thanks for the fava dish...
    don't you love Janis...looking like a peacock...singing like a kookaburra...

    Happy days

  5. Oh. Yum. I love your weaving of food and music. I'm putting this recipe in my pocket and taking it back to the manor, to make soon. (I might, however, leave out the blood pudding, since it's not common in my neck of the woods.)

  6. All new to me, but all look and sound try-worthy. I might start with the food!

  7. Wonderful blog. I will be back!

  8. Food, music, and art! Don't for get the art! Always a winning combo.

  9. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

  10. The soup looks really good. I love sausage and while I don't normally cook anything that requires a recipe, I may need to print this one out. I don't think I've ever eaten Cuban food so it would be an experience.

  11. Oh Cubano, I don't eat beans or sausage but I'd get past that because I love Paco, Janis and Jorge a lot. As for Little River Band, were they supposed to represent the blandness of the beans?

  12. Thanks for commenting on my blog today. Your own blog looks amazing and I'm so glad to have found it! I look forward to reading through and listening and cooking! Thanks, again.

  13. The soup looks perfect for this time of a year. I'm very tempted to make it this weekend! And great choice of music, thanks.

    Just to add to the discussion from the previous post: Clive's Latin woman is less credible because he didn't do his research and the reader wouldn't skip that "detail" focusing on the plot - the plot falls flat without credible characters. In writing we should definitely expand on our own knowledge and experiences. I remember Gladwell's excellent article in New Yorker on Ben Fountain who published his first successful collection of short stories after 18 years of trials and errors and research, research, research... do you ever feel that when you write about something that you know well the words just flow and very vivid picture emerges in your head? I do.

    Have a great weekend!


  14. What a mouthwatering recipe!
    Thank you for your nice comment on my blog. Through that I have discovered yours...thank you for that. I can spend hours here enjoying your posts. ;)
    Have a wonderful weekend, Jeannette

  15. Good food and good music, two of the top things on my list. Question... do you think the fabada would work without the sausage? Sorry...I know, probably not (vegetarian here) ;)

    I think I am going to find some good music on this blog!

  16. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

  17. Hi,from Japan,
    your site is so alive and filled with treats for all the senses! Nice to meet you...

  18. I can almost taste it.
    the name even looks delicious.

    and regarding world peace, well,
    it's unusual for me to disagree with you but I have to on this one. Rape can be prevented, minds can be opened and the truth can be revealed.

  19. You nailed this one, Cuban! The recipe looks delectable, especially with all the smoky flavors and saffron. You are reminding me that I need to buy more Paco de Lucia music - such a great clip you featured here. As for Janis, I'm remembering the time I saw her in Golden Gate Park at the free concerts during the Summer of Love in San Francisco. I was only 14 but she had an indelible impact on me.

    Thank you for concocting a beautiful evening of ad infinitum flavors of music and food.

  20. Un piatto molto simile su come si fa nella mia terra d'origine in Sicilia. Solo che noi non usiamo mai il burro tradizionalmente. :)
    Mi é venuta fame guardando la tua ricetta!

    Un saluto da Colonia,

  21. Your posts sometimes bring me bittersweets memories from Cuba.
    This time it reminds me of one particularly sad evening in the early nineties. After riding almost 100 km on my bike, I came home to find a splendid fabada on the table.
    How could it happen in the middle of the "Período Especial"?
    An angel brought it. An aunt visiting from Spain bought the ingredients for us at the "Shopping".
    Maybe we even listened to "Entre dos aguas" that evening.
    Al Godar

  22. Spicy beans and sausage, a dish cooked all over the world, with the possible exception of the UK. Spicy music too, fabulous.

  23. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

  24. oye London, tu de abusador como siempre. Yo nunca he comido una fabada, pero eso me tiene la boca echa agua. y ese Paco de Lucia... madre mia... lo marsimo, London, lo marsimo.
    que genialidad
    que mejunje este!

  25. Muchas gracias, liset.

    Saludos desde Londres.

  26. Love your posts. I enjoyed Asturian food not in Asturias but in Cuba at the restaurant at the Asturian Center in Havana. It was great. Check out my blog about the Canadian musicians that are working with Cuban celtic muscians for Celtfest Cuba 2010



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