Recently I was having some company over for dinner, including a married couple from Spain, and I really wanted to challenge myself to make food that was traditional cuisine from their country. I made a number of different dishes, including tortilla (the absolute staple of Spain… every family has their own special recipe passed down through the generations), garlic shrimp over saffron rice, and this dish, a Pork & Chickpea Stew. I was very happy with how everything came out, but I was ecstatic when they said the stew was perfect, and that it brought them back to their childhood having dinner at their Abuela’s house (grandmother)… No greater compliment could be given, in my opinion.
So here you have my take on a traditional Spanish “peasant fare” dish, Pork & Chickpea Stew. I hope you enjoy!
Prep & Cooking time: 5 hours
Serves: 8-10 as an entree
3lb Pork Loin Roast or Pork Shoulder, cut into 1/2″ chunks, do not trim fat
1lb Sweet Sausage, cut into chunks (many sausages are gluten free, double check the ingredients)
1 Head of Garlic, chopped (yes, ALL of the cloves from a head)
1 Large Red Onion, chopped
3 Large Carrots, cut into 1/2″-3/4″ rounds
1 Bunch of Parsley, chopped (don’t do this until the end, it will wilt)
2 15oz cans of Chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 28oz can of Diced Tomatoes with liquid
2c Amontillado Sherry
8c Chicken Stock (64oz)
2tbsp Olive Oil
3tsp Salt (plus more to season to taste)
3tsp Ground Black Pepper
2tbsp Smoked Paprika (yes tablespoons, not teaspoons)
2tsp Hot Paprika
Alright, let’s get started… and trust me, this is pretty darn easy to make!
Heat the olive oil on high in a stock pot no smaller then 8QT. Add the cubed pork fat side down and season with 1tsp each of salt and ground black pepper. Cook until lightly browned, then turn. Repeat until all sides are lightly browned. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the pork from the pot and set aside at room temperature. Do not drain the oil and fat!
Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, onion and carrots, along with 1tsp each of salt and ground black pepper. Cook until the vegetables begin to sweat, about 5 minutes, stirring periodically.
Increase the heat to high and add the sherry. Boil until reduced by half.
Add the chicken stock, water, diced tomato, browned pork, uncooked sausage, smoked paprika, hot paprika, and 1tsp each of salt and ground black pepper. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 4 hours, stirring periodically.
After 4 hours add the chickpeas and chopped parsley, stir well, then simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the broth and add salt if needed.
That’s it, you’re done. Ladle the stew into bowls, cut up some crusty white bread, pour some red wine, and get down to eating! You’ve already waited 5 hours, you have to be starving… lol.
Now let’s talk wine pairings… Of course we’re going with a red, and obviously it should be from Spain since this is a traditional SPANISH stew! Think medium-to-full bodied and slightly rustic, like Rioja, Priorat, Ribera del Duero… Super ripe inexpensive Garnachas need not apply. Here are a few suggestions.
Hermanos de Pecina Crianza, Rioja, Spain – A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano and 2% Garnacha (as are all of their red wines) aged for two years in neutral American oak, and an additional two years in bottle. Technically speaking the wine is aged long enough to be labeled as a Reserva, but the winery holds themselves to a higher standard than is required by the appellation. In the glass is a medium to full bodied wine of deep garnet hue. The bouquet reveals aromas of black cherry, cassis, fennel frond and subtle sweet pipe tobacco. On the palate are distinct notes of ripe cherry, blackberry and tart bramble fruit, as well as nuances of leather and fall spices, with beautifully integrated acidity and soft tannins giving balance and backbone. Truly a beautiful wine and an unbelievable value. PP Score: 93 (Retail $18-22) *Practicing Organic
Algueira Mencia, Ribeira Sacra, Spain – 100% Mencia from 30-80 year old vines planted on steep hillsides overlooking the beautiful Sil river, in the northwestern region of Spain known as Galicia. Algueira raises their entry level Mencia entirely in stainless to allow the wine to be solely about the vibrancy of the fruit. In the glass you’ll find a medium bodied wine of violet hue, with aromas of black cherry, dried rose petal and a hint of smoke. On the palate the wine has a beautiful rustic elegance, with pronounced notes of tart cherry and overripe raspberry, along with nuances of slate, black tea, smoke and crushed wild flowers, all framed by a moderate and refreshing acidity, as well as silky tannins giving the wine depth and backbone. A shocking good wine for the price. PP Score: 91 (Retail $13-15) *Practicing Organic & Biodynamic
Psi, Ribera del Duero, Spain – Psi is the brain child of Peter Sisseck, arguably one of Spain’s top winemakers. Peter’s flagship bottling, Pingus, is one of the most sought after wines in the world today, going for approximately $1,000 per bottle. He created Psi as a collaboration between himself and 23 other small growers in Ribera del Duero (thus the name Psi, which is the 23rd letter in the Greek alphabet). In the glass is a full bodied wine of bright purple hue, with aromas of dark cherry, bramble fruit, wildflowers and subtle hints of damp earth and crushed rock. On the palate the wine has an explosive fruit driven opening with overt notes of tart cherry and blackberry that becomes more subtle and restrained in the middle and finish, with nuances of dried herbs and smoke, with balancing acidity and fine dusty tannins, leading into a long finish. PP Score: 92 (Retail $30-36) *Practicing Organic & Biodynamic
So there you have it folks… My traditional Spanish Pork & Chickpea Stew recipe, and some amazing red wines to pair with it. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and I certainly hope you’ll try the recipe and wines! As always, more content is en route. In the meantime sit back, relax, and enjoy a big rustic Spanish red. Life is short, you deserve to enjoy it!