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Basque-Style Bean and Kale Stew

A customer sent in a recipe from the UK paper, The Guardian, by Spanish chef José Pizarro. It was for a traditional Basque stew using Toloso beans, which are famous and somewhat wonderful. A runner bean like Ayocote Negro would be close, but not quite. Oddly, our Whipple bean is closer. But Julia and the test kitchen decided to try the stew with our Chiapas Black beans and friends, it was something! We’ve modified the recipe to make it our own and it’s a keeper. The pork is essential for a more traditional dish but I thought trying it with a firm, fried tofu might be good. The bean broth and the pimenton are a good base for experimentation.

As delicious as this is, and believe, it really is, I think our Basque friends would not recognize is as theirs after all of our noodling around with the recipe! 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large leek, trimmed and finely sliced
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs each fresh thyme and oregano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 teaspoon Rancho Gordo Castillo Spanish Pimentón
Pinch of chile flakes
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Chiapas Black Beans, Negras de Tolosa, or any other dried black beans, plus about 1 cup bean broth
2 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
1 small bunch Tuscan kale (cavolo nero) or curly kale, thick stalks removed and leaves shredded
3/4 cup shredded smoked ham hock
2 teaspoons Rancho Gordo Pineapple Vinegar or sherry vinegar

Makes 4 to 6 servings

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and leek and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the herbs, garlic, and spices; fry, stirring, for a few minutes more. Add the wine, raise the heat, and cook until reduced by about half.

Add the beans, bean broth, and stock; reduce the heat, season generously with salt, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the juices have reduced and thickened.

Add the kale, cover the pot, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, just to wilt the greens. Stir in the shredded ham hock and vinegar and cook to heat through. Ladle into bowls and serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a scattering of chile flakes (if desired) and a good grind of black pepper.


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