Liddie’s Traditional New Mexican Dishes: Habas Guisadas al Azafran (Stewed Fava Beans With Saffron)

first_imgHabas Guisadas al Azafran (Stewed Fava Beans With Saffron). Photo by Liddie Martinez By LIDDIE MARTINEZEspañola ValleyHabas (Favas) were frequently found in our pantry and highly desired as a portable snack. My mother toasted the dried beans in a cast iron skillet and we ate them much like piñon, cracking the hard, outer shell and eating the bean inside.  They were a delicious and nutritious snack and portable, like piñon, all you had to do was slip a handful inside your pocket. The beauty of this bean is its ease in growing and versatility in preparing.  Favas are not fussy plants; they are hearty, drought tolerant, sun loving and super easy to grow. This is why they are the most ancient cultivated crop of all time. Originating in the Mediterranean, cultivation began around 6000 B.C. and were eaten by the Ancient Greeks and Romans as well as all of the peoples in and around the Mediterranean.  The down side to favas is that they are labor intensive. They grow in large, thick fibrous pods containing large beans that will need to be blanched and shelled before using. The upside is that they are versatile, nutritious and delicious! They can be eaten raw or cooked, fresh or dried and steam, roasted, sautéed, stewed, mashed and boiled.I did not include this wonderful stew made with dried habas in my cookbook, The Chile Line: Historic Northern New Mexican Recipes, so please be sure to clip and save for a special treat when winter weather arrives. I thought this would be a timely selection since they are abundant and are ready to harvest in my garden.This dish reminds me of southern Spain with its rich soup flavored with saffron but it could really have originated anywhere in the Mediterranean. My Grandmother loved making them in a pressure cooker because it reduced the cooking time significantly and she could throw a cheap cut of beef or a ham hock into the pot and the dish was always tender and delicious.My version uses a rib eye steak and is braised but this dish can be modified to meet even the most frugal of budgets and still be very delicious and highly nutritious.3 cups     dried habas, soaked overnight, peeled and rinsed1              rib eye steak, cubed1              onion, chopped3              carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thinly3              celery ribs, chopped fine3 cups     whole, peeled tomatoes4 cloves  garlic, minced½ tsp.     saffron threads¼ tsp.     rosemary¼ tsp.     thyme1             bay leaf3 Tbsps. butter3 Tbsps. olive oil3 Tbsps. vegetable oil4 cups    chicken broth2 cups    waterSalt & Pepper to taste and cilantro for garnishIn a large Dutch oven sauté the onions, carrots and celery in olive oil and butter. Season with salt and cook until the onions are transparent. Add tomatoes, garlic, beans, chicken broth and herbs. Cover and bring to a boil.Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet, heat vegetable oil and sear steak cubes that have been patted dry.  Remove from pan and set aside. Lift cover from Dutch oven (should be boiling) and add the steak pieces to the pot along with water.Preheat oven to 350˚.When pot returns to boiling point again, cover and place in oven on center rack. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until habas are tender.Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.Serves 8.Click here for information about The Chile Line: Historic Northern New Mexican Recipes cookbook by Liddie Martinez. Habas. Photo by Liddie Martinezcenter_img Habas. Photo by Liddie Martinezlast_img read more