Now, don’t get me wrong, I do love veggies myself (and meat…I am an equal opportunity eater: everything has an equal opportunity to get eaten by me). My name may be ChichaJo (Chicharon meaning pork cracklings), but my little profile picture is a bunch of brussel sprouts (my favorite vegetable). Another favorite veggie (I do have many) is cabbage. I have heard much nasty press about cabbage (about brussel sprouts too for that matter), but I never understood why. Cabbage is good! And it gets on famously with bacon! (Aha.)
So one night, I find myself getting ready to whip up my usual cabbage with bacon sauté (I love heaping the cabbage onto my wok…creating a tall mountain that eventually “wilts”, pressing down with my hands…). Rooting through the fridge and freezer I realize…I don’t have any bacon (how that happened is a mystery)! Ack! What to do? I valiantly (desperately) explored some more, up to my elbows in frozen meats (and other oddities being housed in the deep freeze). Aha! My hand settles on a ziplock bag of jamon Serrano bits. Paydirt!
Let me explain (although in the planet I sometimes inhabit, a ziplock bag of jamon Serrano bits in the feezer needs no explanation at all). When I make fabada, I use a broth made from ham bone…jamon Serrano bone if I can get it. This makes all the difference in the world. The strong, aged ham flavor this has adds much depth and flavor to your broth. After making the broth, I take the bone and remove all the ham bits and toss them into the fabada. If there is too much bits (you don’t want your fabada to be too salty), I keep them in the freezer until the next fabada.
I thought this would make an excellent substitute for the bacon, so I happily got on with my sauté. The sauté itself is relatively simple, not even a recipe. I wouldn’t even mention it here except for the amazing effect the jamon bits produced. I sautéed a lot of chopped garlic in some olive oil, then tossed in the jamon Serrano bits. Almost immediately an incredible smell filled my kitchen. The aroma of the jamon was just so great and so heady that you could almost taste it in the air. My knees were actually going weak and I guarantee, every meat-lover in your house (and possibly some of your neighbors if you keep your windows open) will sniff their way into your kitchen.