I bought The Food of Spain and Portugal to skim through during my flight back from Barcelona and made marks to the recipes I’d like to test at home. Not wanting to let go of our Catalan experience just yet, I picked Extramadura’s puchero de castaÃ±as con garbanzos, or chestnut and chickpea hotpot to get that comforting feeling we had when we ate chickpeas at almost every tapas bar in Barcelona.
This recipe needs a little bit of planning ahead to soak the chickpeas and chestnuts overnight.
I used the Goya chickpeas from the grocery store. As for the chestnuts, there’s plenty in Chinatown that’s packaged dry, but I wanted the ones soaked in water because I didn’t get the chance to soak them with the chickpeas. (Note that chestnuts in water is different from water chestnuts!) At Dean and Deluca, I bought a $9.50 can of Clement Faugier whole chestnuts in water, a French brand–a little steep but that’s why I said you should plan ahead. There are plenty of smoked ham hocks in my grocery store for less than $2 and because I only used them to flavor the broth, I didn’t feel too bad about throwing them out after cooking. The dried pimento peppers I found at DespaÃ±a for $1.50 in a small box. They were chewy after cooking so I just discarded them, too.
The temperature dropped down to 65 on my way home and it was a little bit chilly. Coming home to make this hotpot with a couple of glasses of Shinn Estate’s Red was what I just needed to wind down. It is great with country bread from Balthazar.
half a 1-pound package of chickpeas, soaked overnight in water, drained
1 can of chestnuts in water, drained
1 smoked ham hock
1 packaged of bacon, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 ribs of celery, chopped
3 dried pimento peppers, seeded and torn
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp crushed peppercorns
2 hardboiled eggs
a handful of shiitake mushrooms, wiped off clean and chopped
parsley, finely chopped
salt, pepper, olive oil
1. In a large casserole, combine all the ingredients except the egg, mushrooms, parsley and seasonings. Add enough water to cover everything and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat a little and let simmer for 1 to 2 hours or until chickpeas are soft while ocassionally stirring. Add some more water if needed; the dish should be more soupy than dry.
2. Stir in the olive oil so that the broth will emulsify and become creamier and let it boil again. Discard the bay leaf and the pimento peels. Season with some salt.
3. In the meantime, fry the mushrooms in a pan with hot olive oil and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Add to the pot, stir a bit and turn off the heat. Stir in the parsley and serve with the eggs.