This is a slightly revised version of a recipe I submitted in the rice competition, renamed in honor of Dolores Ibárruri, known in Spanish history as "La Pasionaria." I came up with this dish on November 23. On that date in 1936 the defenders of the republic and Franco’s fascists began the battle of Madrid. Meanwhile the International Brigades had just arrived at the new front. Pasionaria, an incredibly inspiring orator , made famous "No Pasaran!', which was the slogan of the war and of the decade. Just three days earlier Buenaventura Durutti was accidentally shot and killed by one of his fellow anarchists in his “column” (no wonder the communists ultimately disarmed them). What might the International Brigades have carried with them to the front in terms of cooking wisdom? Perhaps the red beans came over in the pockets of some poet volunteer from southern Louisiana. —pierino
smoked ham hock
medium sweet onion, diced
green bell pepper, brutally chopped
celery rib coarsely chopped
clove garlic, coarsely chopped
mixed peppercorns, left whole
piment d'esplette or pimenton de la Vera
Spanish style chorizo (preferably semi-cured), sliced into ½ inch pieces
salt as needed
1 1/2 cups
short grain rice, "bomba" preferred in case you run out of grenades
One day ahead cover the red beans with water and soak them overnight.
Give yourself most of the next day to finish. Depending on the age of the beans they can take some time to cook. In a heavy pot such as a dutch oven place the ham hock and all of the aromatics including the seasoning. Add the water and bring everything to a simmer. Allow an hour or more for the ham hock to become tender enough to shred. When it’s ready, take the hock out and set aside until it is cool enough to handle. Pick off the meat and return that to the kettle. Now add the beans and the sausage. Make sure there is enough ham stock to cover the beans by about 1 inch. Hold any excess stock aside in case you need it later. Stir in the beans and the chorizo. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook slowly. Your kitchen will smell wonderful.
When the beans are roughly half way to being cooked through, stir in the coffee (see note to cook)
Once the red beans are cooked through remove from the stove and keep warm in the oven. On your cook top prepare your rice. Normally red beans and rice would be served with long grain white rice but in keeping with the Spanish theme I’m using a short grain white rice; in this case “bomba” [of course] from Valencia. Add a pinch of saffron threads to the cooking liquid; chicken stock or water. Two parts stock to one part rice. It takes about 15 minutes to cook.
Spoon the beans and chorizo over the rice and top with chopped scallions.
Note to cooks: The coffee thing is a trick I picked up in San Luis Obispo while fighting on the Higuera Street front near the mission. We were trying to drive the Rachael Ray brigades back across Highway 101 and over to the Madonna Inn side of town. Much as anchovies do in stews, the coffee adds a certain “bottom” to the dish that most people won’t be able to identify. It does the same thing with chili too.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.