José Pizarro's recipe for black beans with ham hock and cabbage

Black beans in a warm Basque cabbage stew and ham hock: happy January

José Pizarro

I love the UK winters, and being outside on cool, cold days and steamy at indoor parties. Though people say January is the deepest and darkest month, we have amazing winter produce, like iron-rich brassica and sweet chives, all of which beg to be part of hearty soups and stews. Dried beans are another winter necessity, hearty and affordable, so I always have them in the store cupboard, ready for action.

Black beans with ham hock and cabbage

The area around Tolosa in the Basque country is renowned for its seeds, which range from purple to black, and tend to be tough with a soft texture and a beautiful nut; if you can't find any, use dry black beans, turtle beans or kidney beans instead.

This dish is traditionally made with chorizo, morcilla and pork belly, but this is a simplified version of the original. It features just a little bit of meat, and lots of great winter greens, with just a hint of pimentón for its lovely warmth.

  • Soak Overnight
  • Preparation 10 min
  • Cook 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serving 4
  • 400g dry alubias negras de Tolosa, or other dry black beans
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 large leek, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • A few sprigs each of fresh thyme and oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp pimentón de la vera
  • 1 pinch of fine chili flakes
  • 250 ml of white wine
  • Chicken broth 500 ml
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 200g cavolo nero or curly kale, thick stems removed and discarded or kept for stock, leaves shredded
  • 180g grated ham hock
  • 2 tsp sherry or moscatel vinegar

Soak the beans in cold water overnight. The next day, drain the beans, put them in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by about 2½cm. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour, until the beans are tender.

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