Monday, 30 April 2012

Spicy Spanish Sausage Stew

This stew is usually a staple on our table througout the autumn and winter months. It has a warm, smoky flavour ideally situed to cold frosty days, and the bold colours bring welcome brightness no matter how grey and gloomy it is outside. Every year when I first cook it, around about the middle of September, standing in the dusky kitchen as the shadows start to grow longer and the leaves spiral down from the nearly-bare trees outside our kitchen window, the scent of it cooking makes me think of Christmas, and the joy of being cosy together indoors again after the long light evenings of summer. After Christmas and with the coming once more of spring, we tend to move more towards dishes that are less intensely flavoured, but just recently, this stew has been separately requested by each and every member of my family, so today, this was what was on the menu for our evening meal - and it was received with great delight! We eat this served with rice and perhaps some bread, and somehow - I know not why - it always manages to make five servings - so there is enough left over for Papa Bear to take to work with him the next day for his lunch! It's packed with goodies - plenty of vitamins, iron and fibre, and keeps well in the fridge for a day or two - or in the freezer for up to a month.

To make this delicious stew you will need ...

1 red onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
200g Spanish chorizo sausage or other spicy sausage of your choise, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. If you use chorizo, ensure the casing has been peeled away before you cut it into pieces. Little Bear loves doing this - she says it is almost as fun as popping bubble wrap!
1 14 oz can butterbeans (or the same amount prepared from dried)
1 14 oz can chickpeas or garbanzo beans (or the same amount prepared from dried)
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes with garlic and herbs
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 dessert spoon sherry vinegar (or apple cider vinegar, if you don't have sherry vinegar - I do usually use sherry vinegar but once when I had run out, I used apple cider vinegar instead, and no one noticed! Don't be tempted to leave it out altogether - it adds a tangy but subtle depth of flavour that is missing without it)
Enough stock to cover - chicken or vegetable
Half a bag of fresh spinach leaves, well washed

1. Start by sauteeing the onion, celery and carrots in a large pan until tender but not browned.

2. Add the chorizo pieces, and turn up the heat. Stir well and allow to braise in the pan until the bright red juices of the sausage have been released (about 5 - 7 minutes). Your kitchen will quickly start to smell wonderful!

3. Add the paprika and sherry or apple cider vinegar, and stir rapidly for a minute or two. More delicious scents will start to fill your kitchen. Stir until the vinegar has mostly cooked away (about 2 or 3 minutes), then reduce the heat and sautee whilst stirring for another 5 minutes or so.

4. Add the tomatoes, and turn up the heat until they are bubbling.

5. Now add the pulses, and stir to combine well.

6. Cover with stock (I usually put the kettle on to boil when I start cooking, and then just quickly reboil it at this point, to make up enough stock to cover the contents of the pan - don't overfill - you will need about 1/2 - 3/4 pint at most).

7. Now cover the pan with a lid, and turn down the heat to the second-lowest setting (5 on our hob). Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the liquid starts to reduce too much, add a little more stock.

8. After 30 minutes, uncover the pan and add the spinach. It will seem as if there is too much at first, but it will quickly wilt and can be combined into the stew. Allow this to cook for about 10 more minutes, and then the stew is ready to eat! Yum! It's so easy - and if you use canned pulses, this dish can be ready from scratch in less than an hour.