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22 September 2012

Smoked Paprika Chicken with Haricot Tarbais & Chorizo

There is something unique about Italy and women's surnames.   We keep our surnames for life.  There's no need to be on the temporary position and wait for Mr. Right to arrive then erase the identity that we inherited from our fathers.  So, when Mr. Right arrives, there's no need to be Signora Right too.  I can be Signora What-Have-You like how my father passed on his last name to me.

At the beginning, I was not agreeable to it.  I felt lost in a sea of married women changing their surnames.  I felt like a solitary fish sticking out from the schools swimming around me.  What's my name?  I grew up knowing fully well that I would be assuming my husband's last name.   I didn't and I still remained with my maiden name until now.  My family thought that there is something wrong with our marriage.  My grandmother was convinced that we never got married.  After explaining to them a hundred times how the system works in Italy, I finally saw a light of comprehension when I showed my mother the intercom buttons and mailboxes in Italy.  Almost all of them have two surnames listed in each house.  Sometimes, show and tell works best.

I only use my husband's last name in non-official things that I do.  I did not feel like explaining to ALL my friends why I am still using my maiden name because outside Italy (Is there another country like Italy?), it only means one thing - I never got married.  I can do what the rest of the married female population in Italy is doing.  Just use the surname my father gave me and consider myself lucky for not losing the name I was identified with ever since I was born.

I had a very peculiar day once.  Having just arrived from a vacation at the beginning of summer, I found a couple of notices for unclaimed mails at our mailbox.  Claiming them had been difficult, almost laughable (But not during the time I was claiming them!).  Both senders referred to me by my husband's last name.  The package of haricot tarbais & piment d'espelette from my friend in France even had my nickname on it.  Nicknames are almost non-existent in Italy.  In the eyes of the post office personnel, I was not the one on the receiving end of the package.    After a bit of deliberation, they handed me the package. The other mail was trickier to retrieve, being more official.  After producing a third valid document, I finally got my mail.   That day, I was not happy with my name.

This was my second approach to cooking the haricot tarbais (tarbais beans).  The first recipe was a basic bean soup with some speck.   It was good but I wasn't able to document it with pictures and written recipe. This, on the other hand, came out quite good.  I did study some recipes from the site of haricot tarbais itself to understand these beans then I just put together something on my own.  My family loved it.  Maybe you would too.   And to my French friend, this recipe's for you.  Thank you for sending me these haricot tarbais and the piment d'espelette.

Have a good weekend!

Smoked Paprika Chicken with Chorizo & Haricot Tarbais (Tarbais Beans)

Serves 4
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon piment d'espelette (espelette pepper) (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  •  dash of pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 g. haricot tarbait (tarbait beans) or any similar beans
  • 75 g. smoked pancetta, cubed
  • 2 rosemary twigs
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 liter chicken stock + more for extra
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 100 g. chorizo
  1. Soak tarbais beans overnight in a bowl of water.  After soaking, drain, discard water and rinse.
  2. Mix smoked paprika, piment d'espelette, salt & pepper in a small bowl.   Rub chicken with the mixture.  Let it sit for an hour.
  3. Saute' onion, garlic, pancetta & chorizo in a tall saucepan with extra virgin olive oil.  Be careful not to burn the onion.  When pancetta and chorizo are toasted, add tomatoes.  Discard garlic when toasted.  Cook for another 3 minutes.  Add beans, stock, bay leaves & rosemary.  Bring to a boil then simmer for an hour to one hour and a half.  Add hot water or more chicken stock if beans are starting to dry up.  After about 45 minutes of cooking, add salt if needed.
  4. Meanwhile, brown both sides of the chicken in a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil.  Set aside.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.  
  6. When chicken thighs are brown and beans are tender, put them together in a large baking pan and cook for 45 minutes.  Check while cooking.  If it's becoming dry, ladle some more chicken stock. 
  7. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.