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Beans with Bacon Stew (Guiso de Porotos con Panceta)

An inexpensive and comforting winter dish. This recipe describes a very simple dish from Argentina, with a short list of ingredients that includes some italian panceta; it is nonetheless nutritionally quite complete and delicious; remember that winter starts in June in South America...


* 1 lb. dry beans (black beans / red kidney beans / white beans)
* Enough water
* 1 lb. smoked bacon or even better panceta
* 1 onion
* 2 cloves of garlic
* 1 pepper
* 1 cup crushed tomatoes peeled and seeded
* 1 and 1/2 Pumpkin
* salt fine salt,
* 2 bay leaves,
* 1 tsp. fennel seeds
* 1 tbsp. paprika,
* 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper,
* 1 tsp. cumin,
* 1 tbsp. oregano


1) The night before, wash the beans and pour the 1 lb. dry beans, in fresh water to soaked overnight. The next day, drain them, pour new water to cover and boil, covered, without adding salt but adding the spices as follows: a couple of bay leaves and the teaspoon fennel seeds.

2) We boil the beans alone for 2 h., making sure the level of iquid is above the beans at all times, adding more boiling water when necessary. After simmering for 2 hours cooking beans, add the diced pumpkin pulp with 1 tablespoon salt, and continue simmering.

3) Meanwhile, slice the 1 lb. smoked bacon in strips and then into squares, put them in a pan over low heat to make their fat melt and make the bacon start to brown. Saute the chopped onion in the bacon fat, seasoning with a little salt.

4) Add pepper and two cloves of garlic, minced, and once they are sautéed, teaspoon paprika, teaspoon oregano, teaspoon red pepper, teaspoon cumin and a cup of tomato pulp without skin or seeds. Cook for 10 minutes over low heat.

5) Add the bacon and fried tomatoes mixture to the beans and continue cooking over low heat for 1 h and half more; it is during this time that the beans will absorb the flavor and the broth will become more substantial and thicker.

Like all stews, this one tastes even better the next day, keeping it refrigerated then reheating it over low heat before serving. If you need to serve it immediately you can serve with more broth, a bit like a soup, or with the beans and vegetables drained, with just a bit of liquid.

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