“During the 15th Century, Spain established its first colony in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Because of their excellent geographic position, the Canaries became the launching point, or at least the last stop, before the grand adventure of crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the New World. Those islands are the ancestral home of many residents of St. Bernard Parish and other places around New Orleans. These people are known as Los Isleños or Islanders. On behalf of Spain, the Isleños also colonized Caribbean Islands, Venezuela, and the Philippine Islands.
When Spain acquired New Orleans and the territory west of the Mississippi River from France in 1766, it began to use Louisiana as a protective buffer between the British and the Spanish colony of Mexico, which contained valuable gold and silver mines. It was then that the Spanish government began its concerted efforts to establish settlers in the region to defend against the British should the need arise.
The Isleños were well known for their prowess as cattle ranchers, farmers, and hunters. They were instrumental in the development of Louisiana’s sugar cane industry, drawing on skills developed in the Canaries and in the Caribbean. Manuel Solis and Antonio Mendez are credited with the commercial perfection of granulating sugar in 1787 at Woodlake Plantation near Pointe à la Hache. They also spread the production of sugar by growing seed cane for other farmers so that the growing of cane would become a major industry. Later, many Isleños began fishing as an alternative to farming sugar and other crops. Additionally, they hunted game for fur and meat as the market for these products grew.
Of course, like other immigrants, the Isleños ate what was available. They ate game, both fowl and venison, as well as crabs and shrimp and finfish. But the access to seafood and farming made it possible to adapt certain food traditions quite directly to Louisiana.” -Elizabeth M. Williams, SoFAB Institute
- 1½ pounds dried lima beans or fava beans
- 1½ pounds salted pork belly
- 1½ pounds smoked pork shanks
- 1 pound beef brisket
- 8 to 10 whole black peppercorns
- 10 threads saffron
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound chorizo, sliced 1⁄2-inch
- ¼ pound blood sausage (morcilla), sliced 1⁄2-inch thick
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped (about 1½ cups)
- 4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
- Garnish: paprika and chopped fresh parsley
- In a large bowl, add beans and cover with water; let stand overnight.
- Drain beans, and discard water. In a large Dutch oven, add beans, pork belly, pork shank, and brisket, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and drain.
- In a large Dutch oven, add bean mixture, peppercorns, saff ron, paprika, bay leaf, and salt; cover with water. Simmer over low heat 1½ hours, adding water as needed to cover. Avoid stirring so as not to break up the beans. Remove meat, debone pork shanks, cut into 1-inch pieces, and reserve. (Check beans for doneness. They should be almost tender. If not,
- cook 30 minutes more. )
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil; add chorizo and morcilla, and cook until browned; set aside. In the same skillet, add onion and garlic, and cook until softened.
- To bean mixture, add sausages, onion mixture, and reserved pork and beef. Simmer 30 minutes. Garnish with paprika and parsley, if desired.