My parents are in the process of redecorating their kitchen and getting rid of kitchenware they no longer want; subsequently passing it onto me! In between random cutlery sets and unwanted easter-egg mugs they have given me a stainless steel pot which according to both Mum and Dad, they bought in Portugal some 20 years ago.

20 years ago I was only 13 years old! At this age we still lived at my Grandparents’ house and it got me thinking about the meals that this pot would have catered for us over the years.

My Granny was fantastic in the kitchen. She fed 7 of us a cooked lunch everyday. Mum helped Gran with dinner when she got back from work . On Saturdays another 4 of us would be present for lunch! This was no easy achievement on a limited budget, supplies and a small kitchen area.

But like all women of her generation she made the most of every penny that was in the food budget and made sure never to waste anything.

The family never went hungry. Yet how was this all possible?

Organisation. Granny had a repertoire of set favourites that we all loved. For lunch between Mondays and Thursdays we ate combinations of the following: Shepherd’s Pie (really cottage pie) with baked beans or pastel de corned beef (corned beef pie); chicken/corned beef/tuna in rice; gallina al horno (chicken pieces in a white wine gravy); sausage, egg and chips. Fridays was always a steak and kidney pie and chips (as Gran went to the hairdressers), Saturdays would be Rosto (macaroni in tomato sauce with chopped sausages and topped with bacon) which she could bulk out with pasta and Sundays, the quintessential roast.

On some occasions and when the weather called for it Granny would make potaje (pronounced po-tah-hay). This could be in the form of a chickpea or butter bean stew with chorizo and blackpudding, as well as another one made with spinach or lentil stew with pumpkin and chorizo. Served with fried chickpea flour based tortillas perfect for cleaning the plate. Another of Granny’s winter warmers was sopa de calavacines (white marrow soup with dairylea and small vermicelli pasta).

The sopa de calavacines is super easy to make and one that I make often; see Recipes.

I have never made nor wanted to make potaje before. My brother loathed it and it loathed him! But my mantra, ‘if it doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ meant I was willing to try anything once. Feeling the cold and holding this 20 year old pot in my hands made me feel very nostalgic about the food of my childhood and I tried to evoke it from tast memory. Here goes:

Potaje de Alubias, lomo, morcilla y chorizo (White pea bean stew with pork, black pudding and chorizo)

Using pulses in stews is typical peasant food. They are cheap, highly nutritious and ideal for large numbers of people. Even though they are ‘meaty’ in texture they can be quite bland tasting therefore they need a flavour injection.

1st: Either soak your beans over night and then boil for 2 hours OR buy a jar of precooked beans that you are confident using.

2nd: Chop a medium onion and fry in some olive oil. Add crushed garlic. I also added a chopped red chilli.

3rd: Slice chorizo and morcilla and fry in the olive oil. This will release a lot of sweet, smoked paprika flavoured oil into the pot. Add the pieces of pork and cook in these juices.

4th: Chop a large tomato and add to the pot.

5th: Once the tomato has broken down add the cooked beans. Simmer for a few mins. Serve hot with fresh parsely spinkled over.

Not exactly like Granny used to make but I am sure she would be very proud! ENJOY!

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