Monday, July 13, 2009

Potaje de Frijoles Blancos (White Bean Stew)

"Potaje de Frijoles Blancos" or "Potaje de Judias" or "Potaje de Alubias Blancas" whatever you want to call it hsimply means "white bean stew."

There are many variations of spanish/ cuban white bean stews depending your families tastes, where you come from, etc. when we simply say "Potaje de Frijoles Blancos" in my house we think of this stew I am posting here.

It's a delicious simple white bean stew made with either large white beans or small white beans (your preference), hardy with chunks of calabaza, potatoes, chorizo, beef, and a strong sofrito without tomato some salt and cumin nothing more nothing less unless you want to add soem bijol or saffron to make it a strongey yellow (which is occasionally done in my house to bean stews that are white without the addition of tomato). We make other white bean stews in my house using it that go by different names but those will be for another post on of them I have posted though which is my Tata's version of "Caldo Gallego" (Galician Stew).

The first time I had this I remember it being a hot summer in L.A. (back when I lived in Midwilsher area of West L.A. now I'm in the SF Valley) I was about 5 years old maybe younger my Tata made this and for some odd reason I was being a spoiled brat. I refused to eat the Potaje "Yo no queiro FRIJOLES BLANCOS tan raro, dame de comer otra cosa" (translates to "I don't want white beans, so weird, give me something else") because the beans where white, and I haven't ate white beans before. Of course I was being a hot headed spoiled brat screaming in Spanish, my Tata looked at me and said "Anda estan buenos chico dejate de malcriadeses" (stop being a spoiled brat and eat) and I simply said, "No!" my Tata being at times the hot headed woman she is told me, "Coño chico, no te voy dar na'ma caprichudo, pasa hambre bobo quando ya no aguantes te lo' va tragar todo, caray que ni lo quieres probar" (something along those lines which means, "Fuck boy I'm not feeding ou anything, go hungry dumb ass and then when you starving your gonna chomp that down, shit you don't even want to taste it"... I know it sounds harsh but Cuban spanish can be harsh and no hard feelings among family when talking. It doesn't translate so nicely directly to english but it is much less harsh than what it sounds.

Later that day I was super hungry and said, "Bueno esta bien ya traimelo tengo hambre" (meaning "Fine bring it I'm hungry") and here comes to the table in a bowl a small mountain of delicious steaming hot fluffy white rice topped with the Potaje, I took my first spoon and wow I LOVED it and finished my bowl clean then my grandma waid, "Ya ves chico estaba bueno" (translates to "See boy it's good")

I don't remember ever eating that Potaje since that day many many years ago, and last week I decided to make some on the weekend using my Tata's recipe and it stirs up memories of my childhood when I lived back in West L.A. always close to my Tata...

-1 lbs. white beans (large or small I only had small and remember them being small)
-1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat cut into 1 inch cubes
-3 small spanish chorizo's or 1/2 a large one casing removed cut into rounds
-1 green bell pepper minced
-1 onion minced
-1/2 head garlic mashed to a paste (garlic press or mortar and pestle)
-1 lbs. Calabaza cut into chunks (use Banana, Kabucha, Butternut, Hubbard squash, etc.)
-2-3 medium potatoes peeled cut into chunks
-salt to taste
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-extra-virgin olive oil or lard as needed

(1) Bring beans to a boil in enough water to cover them about 2-4 inches (eyeball it) when it comes to a rolling boil add beef stew meat and season with salt (normally we do not salt beans until fully cooked but if you don't salt it when there's raw meat then the meat will be bland no matter how salty the stew is). Cover and let boil until beans are tender at medium low heat (it only took me 1 hour using the small white beans)

(2)When beans and beef are tender and cooked heat olive oil or lard in a large pan and start the sofrito by sauteeing some Spanish chorizo at medium high, when the oil turns redish add onions and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes or more until translucent then add garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes until fragrant, turn off heat your sofrito is done. Throw the sofrito into the pot of beans and beef, throw in the Calabaza and potatoes along with cumin and more salt if necessary (taste the liquid) bring back to a boil and cook together until Calabaza and potatoes are tender, be sure to boil uncovered after adding the sofrito and all so the stew can reduce and thicken if necessary.

(4)Serve with white rice or good bread if you wish also a salad but not necessary.

Please Note:
*Potajes for us is thick bean stews like these, they are not suppose to be soupy and thin, a potaje is rich, somewhat thick but not so thick it's a paste just a rich body with a consistency where it's thick enough to not sink right through the rice, and to envelope a nice piece of bread in a thick rich coating. Just add enough water using some judgement, you can thicken it up by mashing some of the beans in teh pot with a wooden spoon and cooking the potatoes and calabaza longer just be careful not to cook them so much they disappear into the stew.


Mamey said...

In some circles 'potaje de judias' is confused with 'fabada asturiana.'
The latter was introduced by the many Asturian immigrants who went to Cuba in the 20th century. I like both--the potaje and the fabada--a lot. The latter takes morcilla and drops the calabaza, of course. Cuba use to produce wonderful Spanish chorizos and morcillas--loyal to the original recipes from Spain. When in a hurry I use canned Italian white beans and sautee them with a bit of onions, garlic, morcilla, and chorizo...cooks in less than 20 minutes (add a little bit of water towards the end, but should not be soupy).

cptexas said...

This story is hilarious. LOL here at the office. I really like how you break down your recipes. You give lots of information and history, which is great. I'm in the corner of Texas, so it's Mexican food for me. Keep up the great work. Thanks.

IDania said...

Fantástica la receta!!!!
In casa we eat beans a lot. There's so good for you... Some times we just make white bean salad, which is muy buena y muy rica as well. I love your step-by-step recipe...

Nathan said...

I've never had fabada but know how to prepare it (I know weird) thanks for your recipe :D

No problem it's my pleasure to share with others my food and culture. I big shout out to Texas (I have family there as well)

Mmmm.... we eat bean salads at my home to, we just can't get enough I read somewhere that they can lower your risk of heart attack by like 80%. You should share more Potaje recipes on your blog I'd love to learn some new one's :)

Masa Assassin said...

Hi Nathan love the receta. Hey my sister just got back from Cuban and brought me some recipes, time to get in the kitchen.

Nathan said...

Masa Assasin,
Yay! Yes yes very much looking forward to some old school Cuban stuff. How I wish to visit Cuba someday (even if it has taken it's toll I would still love to someday see at least the remnants of what's left in today Cuba) though I would love to it would break my heart at the same time.

Anywho our food is still bomb lol. try to get some recipes from your mother or really old stuff tends to be simple and delicious.

Bren said...

i love judias, sans chorizo tho.

haven't had some in too long of a time!

Tiquillarokera said...

Im a full time student and I do not go to school during the summer but that also means no financial aide. So i went to the nearest shelter for food and they gave me tons and tons of white beans. Growing up we only ate black beans, so I had a huge task. I had to find a good, easy and inexpensive white bean recipe. I really liked your website, so i decided to make it. Haber como me va con todo esto. ;) Thanks for sharing.

Nathan said...

Dude you can survive off of eating all sortso of "Potaje's" and rice porridge type dishes lol. in hard times we've been eating lots of bean stews. If you have no spanish sausage or pumpkin you can do it with just meat and potatoes it's the most basic way to do it. You can usually marry the beans with any protien too, I know some recipes that use chicken w/ certain beans too :)