A few years ago I was lucky enough to go on a cycling tour with a few mates where we followed the Ebro River in Spain, from its source, down into the famous Rioja wine region. As this was a self-guided tour we were given two pieces of advice when it came to lunch stops.
First, don’t even think about having lunch until at least 2pm and secondly, always go for the menú del día (menu of the day) as this would generally offer the best value food for a hungry cyclist. Having set off on day one, we quickly realised that none of us spoke any Spanish (other than "cerveza") and no one had a Spanish dictionary. At our first lunch stop, we confidently strode in and asked for the menú del día, which the polite waitress in the quiet restaurant then announced to us – in machine gun Spanish! Hmmm, did anyone get that? After a few minutes of comedy charades, we got an order across and waited for our mystery meal to arrive. To my absolute joy, what arrived was a glorious bowl of stew full of stunning chorizo sausage, potatoes and beans, I couldn’t be happier.
This recipe is my homage to that first day, cycling through the Rioja where we ate and drank the most fabulous food.
It’s really important to spend the time at the start of this recipe to cook down the onions, peppers and garlic for at least 10 minutes in a good splash of rapeseed oil. The onions should be nice and golden, but make sure they don’t burn.
Now add the chunks of cooking chorizo, the dried chipotle chilli, the fresh bay leaf and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. The chorizo will release amazing tasting oil into your pan as it cooks.
Add the smoked paprika, mix it through, then splash in the sherry vinegar and throw in the fresh tomatoes. Cook this down for another 4-5 minutes and then add in the quartered potatoes. Mix these through to coat them in all those beautiful cooking juices and then cover everything with the chicken stock. Bring this to a gentle simmer and leave (without a lid) for around half an hour. You want the potatoes to cook through and the liquid to reduce, intensifying all the flavours.
After half an hour, check that the potatoes are soft and then add in the cannellini beans. Bring back to a simmer to warm the beans through and that’s it.
Serve your stew with a scatter of fresh parsley, a drizzle of smoked oil and hunk of lovely bread. Beautiful.
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