November 30, 2010 - Posted by Erin in

Potaje de garbanzos
There are many Spanish dishes that I’ve fallen in love with since living in Spain, so I have a pretty set list of favorites. What I didn’t expect was to be adding this easy-to-make stew to the list, but it so yummy and healthy that it just knocked my socks off. As usual, Jacob’s mom, a Spanish cuisine expert if there ever was one, taught me how to make this delicious dish.

Potaje refers to the base of the stew which usually is always made with water, flour, onion, garlic and garbanzos. But really you can add a variety of things to it, from different vegetables, to even meat. Often this dish is called “potaje de garbanzos” or even “potaje de vigilia” (meaning potaje of abstinence or vigil) as it is typically made without meat and during lent to be eaten on Fridays – a time when the Catholics do not eat meat. It’s a hardy, healthy dish that is especially perfect for the cold days of winter (and apparently the cold, early days of Spring as well!). Even better, like most all stews, it keeps well and tastes more delicious with each day!

    500g dried garbanzo beans
    1 onion
    2 bags (10 oz) of frozen chopped spinach
    Cod (optional)
    2 hard-boiled eggs
    A few cloves of garlic
    A couple large spoonfuls of flour
    Olive oil

First, it’s important to note that the quantities above are approximate. When Jacob’s mom cooks, she uses a little of this, a lot of that, and very rarely a specific amount. So feel free to alter these quantities, as they are just estimations.

The day/night before making your stew you’ll want to soak your garbanzos in hot water (must be hot and not cold!). Be sure to cover them thoroughly with water as they will expand and grow, and be sure to use a large pot as this will be the pot you use for your stew. If you decide to use cod, which usually comes salted in Spain, you will also want to put the cod in cold water the night before in order to extract some of the salt and return moisture to the cod (I’m truly ignorant as to how cod is sold in the States – this process would not be necessary if the cod is not salted). You may also want to hard-boil your eggs so that they are ready for the next day.

The next day, when you’re ready to make your dish, your first step will be to dice your onion and chop a few cloves of garlic. Then you will want to saute these in ample olive oil (at least enough to cover the bottom of your frying pan), as you will also use this oil for the potaje.

Once the onions and garlic are golden, you will want to start adding the flour to the same frying pan. During this process, you’ll want the oil to be warm, but not super hot (as it could burn the flour). Be sure that you mix in the flour well so that there are no remaining chunks. Once it is fully mixed in, add some dashes of paprika and mix thoroughly.

Now you’re ready to combine your mixture with the pot of DRAINED garbanzos (that you’ve let sit over night). After everything is well mixed, you will want to add HOT water – enough to cover the garbanzos, and then some. Stir your mixture and add salt to taste. Once it has sufficient salt, you’ll want to cook your stew – if you have a pressure cooker, you’ll cook it for about 35 minutes. If you don’t and you’re just cooking it in a regular pot, then it will take about an hour and half, and you will just need to taste it regularly to see if your garbanzos are cooked (softened, but still slightly firm).

While your stew is cooking, you can prepare your spinach by draining it of any water and then cutting it into smaller pieces, if necessary. You will also want to do the same with the cod so that it is in very small chunks. Set these ingredients aside while you remove the hard boiled eggs from their shells, and chop the eggs up into small pieces.

Once your stew is done cooking (your garbanzos are softened, but firm), turn off the heat so that your stew stops boiling. It is important to note that once you stop boiling your garbanzos, they will stop cooking (and not get any softer), so if you decide during this process, and before the garbanzos are finished, that you need more broth/water in your stew, then be sure to add only boiling water. At this point, by allowing your stew to stop boiling you will maintain the firmness of your garbanzos while you cook your stew further (with the spinach, fish and eggs).

Once your stew has stopped boiling and cooled, turn the heat back on so that you may add and cook your spinach and cod. You will want to let them cook for about 10 or 15 minutes before finally adding your chopped hard-boiled egg. Don’t forget to continue to taste your stew to ensure it has the right amount of salt (if it has too much, just add more water).

Now your stew should be ready. Hopefully warm weather is right around the corner so that we can replace this yummy potaje with some refreshing gazpacho!


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