The last week brought about some cooler temperatures to South Florida and believe me that is quite a relief! This delightfully cool weather inspired me to make one of my favorite Cuban potajes (stew) ... Potaje de Garbanzo. I think of a potaje (poe-tah-hey) as not quite a soup, not quite a stew and not quite a porridge. It's a hearty chickpeas (garbanzo), simmered with Spanish chorizo, ham, smoked pork shank, Cuban calabaza and potatoes. The taste takes me back to the days of sitting in my mom's kitchen, talking and watching her prepare this divine "potaje". It's funny how so many of the memories of my mom, that mean so much to me and that I hold dear, took place in her kitchen. A little choked up and a big sigh inserted here! Anyway, back to the "potaje". To me, the perfect spoonful has a piece of chorizo, calabaza, and chickpea swimming in the smokey, paprika infused tomato-y broth. Add your favorite bread to dunk in the savory broth or white rice and your meal has just graduated to a traditional Cuban meal. This is nothing short of absolutely, positively delicious! I am pretty certain that my favorite Potaje de Garbanzo may become one your favorites too!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large vidalia onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large bell pepper chopped
4 small dried and cured Spanish chorizo* links, sliced on the diagonal
1 tablespoon sweet, smoked Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
1 laurel bay leaf
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 dry white wine
1 pounds of garbanzo beans
1 1/2 pounds of smoked pork shank
8 oz ham steak cubed
1/2 Cuban calabaza squash (or butternut squash), peeled and diced into large pieces
1 - 2 large red potatoes, peeled, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Soak the beans 24 hours ahead of cooking time, change water whenever possible.
Place the rinse beans and place in a pot with enough water to go about 2 inches above beans. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 5 minutes on high. Cover and turn off heat. Leave in water for 1 hour. Remove and rinse beans set aside. Throw out water.
Heat a deep, heavy bottomed dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, onions, pepper and garlic. Saute for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are tender, add sliced chorizo, paprika, bay leaf and garlic powder stir well to incorporate. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, making sure the chorizo has expelled it's oils. Add tomato sauce, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, covered. Add all of the remaining ingredients, except the salt, and stir to combine. Cook for 1 hour or until beans are almost tender. Add salt and cook for another 1/2 hour.
Serve in deep bowls along with crusty Cuban or French bread and/or, as served traditionally, with white rice. Enoy!
*Do not substitute Spanish chorizo with Mexican chorizo, the flavor profiles are completely different.
I like to to dice my calabaza (squash) in large pieces so that I actually have pieces of it remaining in the stew once it is done cooking. It tends to break down considerably during the cooking process.
Easily to adaptable to slow cooker cooking. After sauteing and simmering vegetables and chorizo in the tomato sauce, transfer all ingredients, except salt, to the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-5 hours OR on low for 8-9 hours. Half hour before cook time is up add in the salt.
I never add salt to beans until they are almost done. It is my experience that salt added to the beginning of the bean's cooking process will keep the beans from softening. See my post Salt Will Keep Your Beans from Softening for more information on bean cookery!