Thursday, February 24, 2011

Portuguese Braised Favas

An enchanting recipe steeped in tradition in my family is Favas. It is a little bean (actually big bean) that is lovingly braised for hours and hours in an Azorean customary marinade. This marinade is the base for thousands of Azorean dishes.
Vinho de Alhos is a delightful and smart combination of spice, acid, and olive oil that can compliment anything from a heavy Pot Roast to the lightest of Cod Fish. It's a cook's "liquid gold".
Vinho de Alhos consists of a few tablespoons of a good olive oil (portuguese or spanish). One with a very fragrant tone. To that you add minced or chopped onion and garlic (depending on the texture of the dish), a tsp or so of Saffroa (portuguese equivalent of saffron. Extracted from Safflowers, instead of crocus) a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar. The combination of the sweet from the apple and the acid of the vinegar permeates the protein and breaks it down to tender, but doesn't macerate to where it's bitter. The Pièce de résistance ingredient is a wet red hot pepper marmalade or paste called "pimenta moída". This is Vinho de Alhos.
The combination of flavors when sauteeing in a pan will automatically send you to an Azorean seaside.
Once you have mastered Vinho de Alhos. You can master almost any Portuguese (Azorean) dish. Let's make Braised Favas!

Braised Favas

Ingredients:
1 lb Dried or Fresh Fava Beans
3 tblsp Olive Oil
1/4 lb Chourico diced (optional)
1 Onion (yellow, halved and sliced)
3 Garlic cloves (chopped)
1 tsp Pimenta Muida (may sub 1 tsp dry red pepper flakes)
1 tsp Saffroa (may sub Paprika or 1/2 amt of Saffron)
1 Tblsp Tomato Paste
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cups Chicken Stock
2 cups Red Wine

Instructions:

If using Dry Favas: Soak favas in water overnight before braising.
If using Fresh Favas: Peel and remove outer shell revealing whole beans.

On day of preparation: 

Heat 3 Tblsp Olive Oil in Large Dutch Oven.
Add chourico. 
Saute chourico, until golden brown and renderings release their flavor.
Remove chourico, set aside.
Add onion. Saute until translucent. 
Add garlic, pimenta muida, vinegar and saffroa.
Stir until combined.
Add back chourico.
Add favas.
Saute until favas well seasoned.
Add Wine. 
Scrape bottom of pan to deglaze.
Add tomato paste. Stir until combined.
Add Chicken Stock.
Cover and Braise for 3 hours, or until beans are tender.
As liquid evaporates, add 2 cups of water to maintain liquid level.

The finished product is a fantastic side dish or buffet nosh. You can even add it to a catering menu as a very Rustic Appetizer. It is served with a crusty bread as seen above. Absolutely delicious! Comfort Food Heaven!