Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Caldo Gallego de Roberto (Galician White Bean Stew)

Last Sunday we visited Grace and Roberto again - a couple of months ago we learned how to make Grace’s delicious Carne con Papas – but this time Roberto taught us how to make his famous Caldo Gallego. OH. MY. GOD! It is so good , particularly when it’s a little cold outside as it was on Super Bowl Sunday.

Here's Roberto - our teacher for the day.

Caldo Gallego is a traditional Cuban dish with origins in Galicia, Spain. It is comfort food for many because it’s so warm and hearty. You can serve Caldo Gallego in a small bowl as a soup course, but most often it is served in a big bowl as the main meal because it contain greens, beans and meat. Don’t let the amount of fat used fool you, the beans and collard greens make it a relatively healthy meal.

Since it takes a long time to make, it is best to make large quantities and freeze the remainders – it gets better with time. And again, because it takes quite a while and requires some prep work – lots of peeling and cutting – do what we did and get together with a few friends. Be sure the wine is good and plentiful and that you have some “saladitos” for sustenance during the hard work – we had ham and manchego cheese canapés along with fresh fruit.


8 quarts of water
3 lbs dried Great Northern Beans
5 lbs potatoes – peeled and chunked
3 lbs turnips – peeled and chunked
4 lbs flank steak – cut into large pieces
5 lbs bone-in-ham – cut into large pieces
2 lbs bacon slices (sliced bacon slab or pancetta can also be used)
6 oz. salt pork (or pork leaf fat called “unto” in Spanish) – rinsed and cut up
10 Spanish chorizos
2 bunches of collard greens – washed well and shredded

  • NOTE: This is what the "unto" or salt pork/pork leaf fat looks like in the package.


This recipe makes approximately 20 servings.
        1. Soak the beans between 6 and 8 hours.
        2. Peel and chunk potatoes and turnips.
        3. Cut the flank steak and the ham – save the ham bone.
        4. Add all the ingredients, including the ham bone – except the collard greens - to the beans and water.
        5. Bring to a boil - it doesn't look pretty, but it's OK - it'll get better.
        6. Set temperature to medium and cook until the beans are ready - approximately 90 minutes.
          • NOTE: At this point the broth will be a reddish-orange because of the chorizo. Don’t panic! It will change color once the greens are added.

        7. Wash, shred and add the collard greens.
        8. Cook for an additional 30 minutes.
        9. Remove the flank steak pieces, the ham pieces, the chorizo and the ham-bone and serve on a separate platter.

        The finished product!

        Serve with crusty bread - preferably Cuban - and a hearty Rioja wine.

        ¡Buen provecho!