The fava bean has a difficult time. The growers here are still swayed by the village fête mentality: “the first prize goes to the largest fava bean” (by which time it’s tough, dull, and starchy). Or restaurants peel off the gray-green skins, leaving a little bright green kernel, with nothing fava bean about it. Leave the fava bean alone; just pick it at the right time.
This is the most delicious way of using up the remaining boiled ham, in fact so good it is worth boiling a ham especially for the dish.
Ah, the fava bean. Before this recipe, I’d read about them, I’d heard them talked about on various TV shows and blogs, but never once had I eaten or cooked with them. After seeing this bunch sitting around at Central Market, I knew it was finally time to experience the buttery texture and slightly bitter, yet lovely nutty flavor. Unfortunately, it seemed like these fava beans were of the “tough, dull, and starchy” variety. I suppose I was lucky to even find them, so beggars can’t be choosers.
Now, above Mr. Henderson mentions that shelling the fave bean of its little jacket is not recommended. I’d heard differently from other places though. In the name of staying true to the recipe, I left the grey-green skins on even in the face of “explosive” gas.
The day before I made this recipe, I boiled a brined picnic ham just like I did back in December last year. I saved some of the cooking liquor, which was needed for cooking the fava beans and warming up chunks of the ham. After a few minutes in the boiling broth, the beans were drained and set aside.
At the same time, my wife was kind enough to whip up a bunch of parsley sauce for me.
The still warm beans and ham chunks were nestled into a bowl, and then the parsley sauce was poured on top. This was a very simple, delicious meal. My only problem with it was that the beans hadn’t been cooked enough, so I quickly put the beans I hadn’t used back in the ham broth and cooked them until they were properly tender. At that point, I finally understood all the hub-bub: fava beans are delicious.
One down, ninety eight to go.