Habas a la catalana or Catalonia-style broad beans is a stew originally from Catalonia, in the northeast corner of Spain, made with broad beans, spring onion, green garlic, pork fat and botifarra (a Catalonian sausage). Some spearmint, sometimes along with other aromatic herbs, will give a refreshing touch to this thoroughly rich, but delicious fare.
This broad bean stew is known in the Catalan language as faves a la catalana, faves afegades or faves sacsades. The type of sausage and meat may vary according to the area, for example, in some recipes only a variety of botifarra sausage is used, while in others the pork fat is replaced by pork belly, bacon dice or even ribs.
On the other hand, some variations are found in the type of herbs used to season this stew. A sprig of spearmint is mandatory, but you can also combine it with bay leaves, marjoram, thyme or even cinnamon.
Any of these variations will always yield an exquisite Catalan-style broad beans dish. There is no doubt that you will really enjoy one of the most famous recipes from Catalonia indeed.
- ¼ cup (50 g) streaky bacon, diced
- ¼ cup (50 g) spring onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons green garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato, grated
- ¼ cups (60 ml) Muscatel wine
- 2 cups (250 g) of broad beans, podded
- A bouquet garni (spearmint, thyme, bay leaf and green garlic)
- 4 slices (50 g) black botifarra sausage, sliced
- 4 slices (50 g) white botifarra sausage, sliced
- 1 tablespoon rendered pork fat
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Heat the lard in a clay cooking pot or a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir-fry the bacon. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Poach the spring onions and spring garlic in the same clay cooking pot and then, add the grated tomato.
- Pour the Muscatel wine and allow to evaporate completely at high temperature.
- Add the broad beans and the bouquet garni made with a sprig of spearmint, a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf, and a green garlic.
- Pour enough water to almost cover all the ingredients, add the stir-fried pork fat and place the lid, but without getting to cover the pot completely. Let the stew cook for about 30 minutes or until the broad beans are tender.
- Add the sausages, cover with the lid and carefully swirl the stew by grasping the clay cooking pot with both hands, using a cloth or kitchen gloves (see picture below).
- Add salt and pepper to taste and let the stew simmer for five minutes more.
- Turn off the heat, take the bouquet garni out and let the stew settle one day long before serving for the flavors to develop.
Tips for perfect habas a la catalana, Catalonia-style broad beans:
- The botifarra (Catalan term) or butifarra is a typical sausage of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and Valencia, consisting mainly of meat and pork fat, and seasoned with spices. There are many varieties: black botifarra, white botifarra, egg botifarra, rice botifarra or raw botifarra among others, but for this recipe we recommend black botifarra or white botifarra, or both.
- We can not think of a good substitute in case you can not find the botifarra. Just keep in mind that it is a sausage seasoned without pimentón (smoked paprika) or strong spices, in fact, it has a very mild taste —nothing to do with Spanish chorizo or our famous black pudding—.
- If you are not a lard-lover for cooking then you can substitute it for any Spanish virgin olive oil.
- Muscatel wine can be replaced by any Rancio wine or even for a few drops of Anisette, in other words, use the wine or liquor you have at hand.
- The broad beans —also known as fava beans, bell beans, English beans or pigeon beans among other names— are usually cooked separately from the rest of the ingredients in many professional kitchens. A sauté of onion, green garlic, tomato, fatback and wine is prepared in a casserole. Afterward, the cooked broad beans are added along with some their juices to the botifarras and the bouquet garni. You will need just a few more minutes of cooking to obtain a soft and wonderful stew.
- If you’re aiming for a more refined and delicate dish you will need to double-pod the broad beans. It is a tedious job, nevertheless, it is worth the effort indeed. We especially recommend doing it if you feel that the second skin of the beans is too thick.
- You can use fresh broad beans from April to September, but if you are not in the right season you can use frozen or canned ones. The flavor will never be the same, but it will suffice.
- Make sure to use green and immature broad beans. Dried broad beans will have a very strong flavor and the result will be nothing like an exquisite stew of broad beans Catalonian style.
- A sprig of marjoram or thyme in the bouquet garni will impart a delicious depth of flavor.
Finally, serve this Catalonia-style broad beans in small earthenware casseroles, garnished with some spearmint leaves and do not forget to bring a basket of crusty fresh bread along with a bottle or two of rosé or red wine… Be ready to enjoy it and reach the heaven with this delicious tapa!