Drain the soaked chick peas and, in a large pot, combine them with the water and the bay leaf. Bring up to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer covered for about 2 1/2 hours, or until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking water, and discard the bay leaf. There should be 3 cups of liquid, if necessary, add some water to make up the amount.
Heat a large ovenproof casserole over low heat and cook the salt pork, turning it over occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the yellow pepper, garlic, and bacon and cook for about 8 minutes more, until all the vegetables are softened. Tip the pan to the side and spoon off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add the rice and stir for about 3 minutes, until it is well coated with the fat and just beginning to brown. Add the salt, pepper, sherry, the reserved 3 cups cooking liquid, and the chick peas.
Cook partially covered over mediumhigh heat without stirring until most of the liquid has been absorbed and small craters appear in the top of the rice, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, stir the rice with a fork, and cover tightly. Cook for about 10 minutes more, until the rice is tender. Remove the salt pork and serve.
c.1997, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved