Authentic and fantastic Fabada!

This week celebrity Master Chef Steven Saunders from the famous award-winning Little Geranium restaurant in La Cala, makes an authentic and classic bean stew for winter.

WHEN I was at Brocket Hall near St Albans in the UK, our restaurant manager once asked me if I knew how to cook a Fabada.

“A what?” I said. He said that his family had some northern Spanish connections and that Fabada was a typical dish and a stunning one made with a certain type of dried bean, black pudding and a special chorizo.

“Hmmm” I said, “I will get the ingredients if you come into my kitchen and cook it!” Surprisingly, he agreed and so there was this incredibly smart suited and booted restaurant manager (called Adam) working at my greasy stove giving instructions like …”no parsley, no salt, no tomatoes,” he was very specific. Then he popped a lid on it and said, “I will come back in a couple of hours.”

About two hours later he came back and skimmed from the top of the saucepan all of the fat that had risen to the top coming from the black pudding and the chorizo, he put a ladle in and said, “there you go!” Is that it?  I thought.

At Brocket Hall I was trying to cook high end food to Michelin standards and couldn’t see how some beans with sausages could be incorporated onto my menu, that is until I tasted it!

OMG, the flavours were divine because the juices from the Asturian morcilla (black pudding) ham and chorizo leak out into the stock and get spiked by the presence of the sweet, not spicy pimenton.

The beans cook in the stock to a soft sponge like legume absorbing all the flavours and there really is no need for salt or parsley or anything, it is simply perfect as it is. Our clients raved about it (Adam took all the credit of course!) and whilst I did make a minor tweak, I did not waiver from the traditional recipe. The only thing that I did change was instead of cooking it in water, I replaced the water with chicken stock (or you can use vegetable stock) giving it deeper and better flavours.

So here in southern Spain I have been dying to try it out on clients and for the last week or so I have been making it as the Amuse de Chef (a small taste of it before the other dishes) with my team explaining that this is a little piece of Spanish tradition and culture.

My opinion is that it is a million light years away from some of the poor Spanish paella we get here on this coastline, which is often dry and has inferior frozen fish baked into it.

The ingredients in the Fabada are what makes the dish. It is not rocket science, buy great ingredients and guess what? You get a great result!

Buy frozen fish, shove it together with some rice flavoured with yellow food colouring and throw in some frozen peas and you get something that survived in the 70s but that should not exist (in that form) in 2020, but it does.

Pictures of paella and other Spanish favourites are still plastered all over many of the menus.  Tip: If you want great authentic food, avoid restaurants that have pictures of the food!

As winter starts to emerge here on the coast, we can feel a little nip in the air. As it has now got colder, can you imagine coming home to a Fabada slowly cooking in a pressure cooker or on a slow (safe) stove? Filling the home with aromas that will create memories, this dish is what great Spanish food is all about.

So, get down to a good supermarket like a Carrefour where they sell all the excellent Asturian specialties and get a Fabada on the go this winter.

It is simple to cook and you will never ever fail to get the compliments, it really is something very different and very special.

I sometimes think about Adam and can see that he looks happily settled on Facebook and every time I make a Fabada I hear his deep voice saying, no parsley!

Steven Saunders’s opinions are his own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.

Authentic and fantastic Fabada! Ingredients (serves four)

  • Classic-beautiful-Fabada-stew
    Something very special.

    4 Asturian Chorizo

  • 4 Asturian Black pudding (Morcilla)
  • 250g of Lacon ham (see note below)
  • 1 white onion peeled but left whole
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled but left whole
  • 1 litre of chicken stock or veg stock
  • 1 generous tablespoon of pimento dulce (sweet red paprika pepper)
  • 500g of dried white beans (fabes) pre-soaked in cold water for minimum 12 hours or overnight.
  • 1 large pinch of saffron threads
  • Salt, optional. taste first!


Weights of the above main ingredients can vary but don’t be too concerned. The main ingredients are your chorizo, morcilla from Asturias and the Lacon Spanish ham which is a speciality cut from the pork shoulder, cured and dried.

If you can’t get hold of this you can find a small piece of pancetta on the bone fairly easily in most supermarkets.


Drain the water away from the beans and place them in a large saucepan.

Warm the chicken stock.

Put the chorizo, morcilla, the onion and garlic and the ham on top of the beans and pour over the warm stock.

Now stir in the pimento.

Bring to the boil then skim off some of the fat from the top using a ladle and reduce the heat to simmer and simmer for one hour.

After an hour dig into the stew using a spoon and check that the beans are soft. If they are not then leave back on the simmer for another 30 minutes. If they are, then remove the stew from the heat and allow to rest and cool.

When required, simply ladle out some of the beans (enough for four) and some of the juices into a smaller saucepan and then remove and slice the morcilla, the chorizo and take a few little slices off the ham and reheat it all in the small pan.

Serve in little bowls with lots of bread (to mop up the juices) and keep topping yourselves up from the stew pot. Or you can just serve the stew pot in the centre of the table family style and everyone just helps themselves.  Enjoy!

Follow Steven on Instagram ….@saunderschef
The Little Geranium, Winner of Best International Restaurant Spain…2020 – For bookings:

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Steven Saunders

Steven Saunders FMCGB - The Little Geranium - La Cala de Mijas & Marbella