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Pork Stew with Wheat & Fennel
Spain - Almeria & Murcia
  -   Olla de Trigo con Hinojo
8 main  
12 hrs  

In Spain, this stew is often made in the spring when tender shoots of Wild Fennel can be picked, but here we use Bulb Fennel, which works well enough. Note that the Potatoes and Bell Pepper are not always included, but I find they work well for buffet service and help make this a delicious stew that will be liked by all - except, of course, Jews, Muslims, Vegetarians and the Gluten Free.

Wheat Berries (1)  
White Beans (2)
Pork (3)
Fennel Bulb
Potatoes (4)
Bell Pepper grn
Morcilla (5)
Chorizo (6)
PREP   -   (10 hrs - 30 min work)
  1. Soak WHEAT BERRIES 8 hours minimum, preferably overnight, with water to cover. Drain.
  2. Soak WHITE BEANS with 1/2 T Salt (yes, salt) and water to cover, 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Simmer Beans in water to cover until just tender through, then drain. They'll get at least another 20 minutes of cooking (see Note-7).
  4. Cut PORK into chunks about 3/4 inch on a side.
  5. Chop ONION medium. Cut FENNEL lengthwise into to thin slivers about 1-1/2 inches long. Hopefully you have some fronds you can set aside to use as a garnish (many stores trim bulbs too close).
  6. Peel POTATOES (if used) and cut into about 1/2 inch dice. Hold in cold water until needed.
  7. Using your propane torch, char the skin of the BELL PEPPER (if used) black and brush it off under cold running water. Cut into dice about 1/3 inch on a side.
  8. Cut MORCILlA and CHORIZO as desired. Perhaps split in half or quarters depending on diameter and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Mix.
RUN   -   (1-1/2 hrs)
  1. Drain Wheat and place in a pot of sufficient size for the whole recipe. Stir in 8 c Water and the Pork. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises.
  2. Stir in Onion and Fennel. Simmer covered about 1 hour.
  3. Stir in cooked Beans, Morcilla mix, Salt and Pepper. If using, stir in Potatoes and Bell Pepper. Bring back to a boil and simmer covered 20 minutes or until beans are tender (wheat berries will remain chewy).
  4. Serve hot, garnished with Fennel Fronds.   Note: this recipe reheats well, but will need a bit more boiled water added as it tends to thicken.
  1. Wheat Berries:   Whole wheat berries are called for (peeled wheat, pelted wheat). If you are in an awful hurry (and using canned beans) you could use coarse bulgur with some degradation of texture and flavor. It would go in with the Potatoes and Chorizo, not with the Pork and Onions.
  2. White Beans:   These should be large white beans, like White Kidney Beans, Cannellini, or the like, but the largest we can easily find around here are Great Northern, and they work well.
  3. Pork:   Weight is with all excess fat removed. Cushion Meat or Leg is fine here.
  4. Potatoes:   White Rose or similar all purpose potatoes work well here. Avoid Yukon Gold types which turn to mush if cooked a little long. For details see our Potatoes page.
  5. Morcilla de Cebolla   This is a Spanish blood sausage that is likely right at hand in the Spanish kitchen - but not here in North America. Do not use Morcilla de Arroz (with rice) as it swells and disintegrates. Morcilla can be ordered from La Española Meats (West Coast) and other domestic sausage makers, or from La Tienda (East Coast) which sells imported at a higher price. If you can't get Morcilla, use a French Boudin Noir or English Black Pudding (also blood sausages). For details see our Sausages page.
  6. Chorizo:   NOT Mexican chorizo, but also not a hard dry Spanish chorizo. This needs to be Chorizo de Balbao or a similar semi-cured cooking chorizo. I buy Balbao from the freezer cases in Philippine markets (USA made), but it can be ordered from Spanish sausage makers like La Española Meats. The photo example was made with Chorizo Riojano. If you can't find a Spanish sausage, use a firm, mildly hot pork sausage. For details see our Sausages page.
  7. Method:   The main change I've made to the pattern recipe is in handling the beans. I soak them with salt, which makes the skins more penetrable, resulting in more even soaking. In the pattern recipe the beans go in with the wheat and pork, but I cook them separately. This gives better control of softness, and discarding the cooking water also discards some of the fart causing indigestible sugars. There is still plenty of bean flavor in this recipe, in fact, more might not be as good. The Bell Pepper and Potatoes are not my addition, they are often included in Spain.
  8. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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