Mario Batali is an Italian-American born in Seattle, yet he insists that his “truest roots in the world of food” are in Spain. In 1975, his father, a Boeing executive, moved the family to post-Franco Madrid, and the young Batali spent much of his formative gastronomic years touring the Iberian Peninsula. In Spain: A Culinary Road Trip (Ecco/HarperCollins), the cookbook he wrote with food writer Mark Bittman and actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Batali included recipes for two popular staples of the Spanish diet, empanada and fabada.
They discovered the recipe for empanada, a traditional savory pastry, at the Empanada Hut near Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Americans are less familiar with fabada, which Batali says “should be adored throughout the world.” The recipe given below was inspired by those typically found in the old cider bars of Oviedo, the biggest city in Asturias.
Recipes of the week
½ lb Spanish chorizo, casings removed and cut into ¼-inch dice
½ lb pancetta, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 large yellow onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 red bell peppers, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 lbs pizza dough (frozen is fine)
Cook chorizo and pancetta in large skillet over medium heat until they begin to render their fat, 5 to 8 minutes. Add onion and peppers, cook until chorizo and pancetta are well browned and vegetables softened, 9 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Cut dough in half. Roll one piece out into thin (¼- to 1/8-inch) round. Line baking sheet with parchment, rub paper with olive oil. Place dough on parchment and spread generously with olive oil. Spread chorizo mixture evenly over dough, leaving ½-inch border all around. Roll out second piece of dough. Moisten exposed edges of bottom round of dough with water, place second round over filling, and crimp edges together with fork to seal. Brush dough liberally with olive oil, cut a few steam vents in center. Bake in 450 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until crust is golden. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.
2 lbs dried fava beans, soaked overnight in water to cover
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of saffron threads
1 tbsp hot pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
1 head garlic, cut in half across the bulb
1 smoked ham hock
1 lb slab bacon
1 lb Spanish chorizo
1 lb morcilla (blood sausage)
1 onion, halved
Drain beans. Put in a large pot, add water to cover by 2 inches, bring to boil. Skim off foam, lower heat to simmer, add olive oil, saffron, pimentón, garlic, ham hock, bacon. Simmer 1 hour, adding more water as necessary to keep beans covered. Add chorizo, morcilla, onion, simmer another 2 hours, or until beans are very soft; add water as necessary to keep beans and meats covered. Remove from heat, remove meats, let cool slightly.
Remove meat from ham hock, shred it into bite-size pieces. Cut bacon into 1-inch chunks, cut sausages into thick slices. Discard garlic and onion, ladle beans into bowls, nestle various meats in beans. Serves 10 to 12.