Jordi’s Bar

jordi’s bar

On Thursday I had supper with Oli at Jordi’s Bar. This is a local restaurant in Calella which specialises in Asian and Thai Fusion food, though I believe you can have steak and chips if you ask for it and they cater for vegetarians and people with a gluten free diet.

specialities

Oli raved about the Jordis back in November, but somehow it’s taken 3 months for me to dine here. I was assured that the food is better than the real (non Catalan) far eastern restaurants in Calella. At the weekend there’s even a queue to get in!

nems

I visited the loo, on arrival and could smell nems as I passed the kitchen. I mentioned this when I returned to the table and nems were on their way with the wine. The nems were perfectly crunchy and the spicy sauce left a lingering hot stickiness on the lips.

clos primat

We drank a local Clos Primat blanc with our food – this is an excellent local wine on many restaurant wine lists in Calella. It’s about €3.50 in the shops and relatively cheap in restaurants.

goan curry

Oli ordered a Goan curry – this one was moderately spicy and contained chicken. In spite of being part for India, Goa was a Portuguese colony, so it wouldn’t be unusual for this dish to contain pork.

green curry

I had a hot green curry – typically made with chicken, green chillies, lemongrass, coconut milk, ginger, cumin, cilantro and Thai fish sauce. This increased the tingle on my lips and gave me a pleasant, warm internal glow.

carajillo

I finished my supper with a carajillo (an espresso with a large measure of brandy in it) the day had been quite mild (16º C with bright sunshine), so we ate al fresco, but by this time the night was closing in and it was getting nippy.

jordi senior

We were served (mostly) by Jordi junior, but when we went in to pay, Jordi the owner chatted to us about the family history. While we drank chupitos (on the house) Jordi pointed out his father, Jordi (the previous proprietor) who’s picture is on the wall. For anyone wondering, the name Jordi is the same as George (in English) and the patron saint of Cataluña is Sant Jordi.

Expect to pay about €45 per person.

Jordi’s Bar is at: Carrer de Sant Josep, 20, 08370 Calella, Barcelona.

Posted in Barcelona, Drink, Eating Out, Food, Meat, Restaurants, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Lapin a la Moutarde

lapin a la moutarde

I had a lonely rabbit in the fridge, in need of some TLC. I looked at some traditional French Lapin a la Moutarde recipes and wondered if a sprinkle of Coleman’s Mustard Powder might cheer up the bunny, without him needing several more hours in the fridge with a Dijon poultice. I’m delighted to say that Mr. Coleman worked wonders, forcing me to repeat the recipe a week later in order to photograph it.

Lapin a la Moutarde recipe (serves 3 people):

1 wild rabbit (jointed)
3 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
6 pieces garlic (finely chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
1 stick of celery (chopped)
6 medium mushrooms (chopped)
2 bay leaves
4 sage leaves (torn)
a teaspoon of Coleman’s Mustard Powder
a heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
a few of sprigs of thyme
6 juniper berries (crushed)
1 teaspoon plain flour
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1/2 pint game stock
rabbit blood
white wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
goose fat

coleman rabbit

First and foremost, the Coleman isn’t intended to replace Dijon mustard completely, it’s merely a method of getting the mustard flavour into the rabbit quickly, instead of having a lengthy marination process …and it works wonders!

Allow the rabbit to come to room temperature and cut it up into about 7 or 8 pieces (remove the rib cage from the back bone and use it for stock). Dust the meat with a teaspoon of mustard powder and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, just before frying.

rabbit browning

Brown the rabbit in batches, using a mixture of goose fat and olive oil in a cast iron casserole. When the meat has taken a little colour, remove to a plate.

bacon and onion

Caramelise a large onion in the same casserole and oil. When the onion is suitably golden, fry the chopped streaky bacon with it.

mirepoix

When the bacon is slightly crispy, mix in the carrot, celery and garlic.

mushrooms

The chopped mushrooms go in next, along with juniper, sage and flour.

stock

Stir in a good splash of white wine vinegar and 1/2 pint of game (or chicken) stock. The bay leaves, thyme and a heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard can go in now too. Let this bubble away for a few minutes and taste – the Dijon mustard is far more mellow than the Coleman’s. At this point, adjust the seasoning to taste – add more mustard and vinegar as you see fit.

rabbit in stock

Return the rabbit to the casserole, make sure it is simmering before putting the lid on and removing to a preheated oven at 150ºC. Cook for 90 – 120 minutes (or until the rabbit is tender) stirring every 45 minutes or so. This rabbit was quite large, but started to feel tender to the fork after about an hour, whereas the previous one needed longer in the oven.

rabbit blood

When the rabbit is done, stir in the blood to thicken the sauce. If there’s no blood available (or you don’t fancy it), use am additional teaspoon of flour before adding the stock. Check the seasoning again and cook with the lid off for a  final 20 minutes.

Serve with mashed potato and Brussels sprouts – a nice glass of Château de Mercey Bourgogne will compliment the flavour of Dijon mustard.

Other Rabbit posts

Posted in Drink, Food, Game, Meat, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Partridge with Caramelised Onion

partridge with caramelised onion

It’s a bit late for partridge, since the season ended on February 1st, but I’m sure some people (like me) will have a few birds in the freezer …and this will also work perfectly with quail, pigeon and poussin!

shirley partridge

The Red-legged Partridge is a small game bird introduced to Britain from mainland Europe (particularly common in France and Spain) in the 18th Century . It’s estimated that there are between 72,000 and 200,000 breeding pairs in the UK. See my post here for plucking and dressing.

Partridge with Caramelised Onion recipe:

Breadcrumb Stuffing:
5 slices of stale sourdough bread
4 chestnuts (chopped)
1 slice of onion (chopped)
2 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
the juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons of herbs (rosemary, sage and thyme – ground in a mortar and pestle with coarse sea salt, black peppercorns and 4 juniper berries)
(finely chopped)
extra virgin olive oil

The Partridge
1 partridge per person
1 large onion (sliced into rings), chop one ring and use it in the stuffing above
6 whole pieces of garlic (bruised and peeled)
6 chestnuts (quartered)
Breadcrumb stuffing
10 Kalamata olives
1/4 pint game stock
a splash red wine vinegar
salted butter
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper

breadcrumbs

Cook some bite sized pieces of stale bread and ground herbs with a drizzle of olive oil in the oven, on low, at 120º for about 45 minutes. Do keep an eye on them, so they don’t burn. When the breadcrumbs are brown and crunchy, remove them from the pan.

chestnut, garlic and onion breadcrumbs

Gently fry the single chopped onion ring and garlic for a couple of minutes, before returning the breadcrumbs to the pan.

chopped chestnuts

Mix in the chopped chestnuts. This quantity of stuffing will do at least two partridges – any leftover can be frozen for a another day.

onion

While the breadcrumbs are in the oven, gently caramelise the onion in a mixture of olive oil and butter. I find that this works best in a cast iron saucepan, as opposed to a frying pan, regular stirring is necessary, but there’s less chance of burning the allium. Don’t stint on the olive oil!

caramelised onion

The onion will go golden brown and reduce by about two thirds, becoming sweet and sticky.

partridge stuffed

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon onto the breadcrumbs and stuff the partridge – add a knob of butter inside first, to keep it moist. Put the carmelised onions into a baking tray, along with the Kalamata olives, whole garlic cloves and quartered chestnuts. Place the bird in the middle, splash on a little game stock and red wine vinegar and sprinkle a pinch or two of leftover breadcrumbs on top. Season with salt and pepper. Cook in a hot oven for no more than 20 minutes (or the partridge will dry out)!

onion gravy

Rest the bird in foil (breast down) for ten minutes of so. Add the remaining game stock to the onions and heat on top of the stove to thicken the gravy. Serve with Brussels sprouts and celeriac mash.

This will go nicely with a glass or two of Clos de Torrbas Crianza from the Penedès region of Cataluña.

Other Partridge posts

Posted in Drink, Food, Game, Meat, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Lentejas con Chorizo

lentejas con chorizo

Lentils with chorizo could be Spain’s national dish – often found cooked at home, on the menú del día in restaurants and out in the fields with farm workers and drovers. It’s thought the dish originated in the province of Ávila and spread throughout Spain during the 19th Century. You will find many variations, depending on the family, region and what’s to hand. The secret to making it right, is to keep it simple stupid – don’t throw the kitchen sink in there!

lenteja pardina

Beans and pulses are incredibly popular in Spain – in previous centuries, they sustained the poor, while the nobility feasted on meat, fish and game. Lentils (Lens Culinaris) are probably the oldest domestic pulse crop, originating in the Middle East and Asia, which makes them one of our earliest food sources. There are (surprisingly) far more varieties than the common, brown, green and red. The annual bushy plants produce a lens shaped seed, hence lentil. These nutritious seeds can be dried and will last for years if stored correctly, making them a perfect food in a time before cans and refrigeration. In Spain, Pardina Lentils are one of the most popular varieties – they have a nutty flavor, can be cooked from dry (without soaking) and hold their shape during cooking (instead of turning to mush). These days they are grown in huge quantities in America and Spain imports about 95% of the Pardina lentils it consumes.

Pardina Lentils and Chorizo recipe (serves 3 – 4):

1 chorizo picante ring (sliced)
3 rashers of streaky bacon (sliced)
a piece of jamón serrano (or small ham bone)
1 large Spanish onion (chopped)
6 pieces garlic (finely chopped)
1 sweet red pepper (chopped)
1 large potato (cubed)
1 carrot (sliced)
4 large tomatoes (grated)
1/2lb dry pardina lentils
1 teaspoon pimentón de la vera dulce
2 bay leaves
extra virgin olive oil
a splash sherry vinegar
1 1/2 pints water
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

chorizo

Peel and slice the chorizo, then brown it slightly in extra virgin olive oil. You could just throw it in with all the ingredients, but caramelising it first adds an import dimension to the flavour of the stew. Once browned, remove to a plate. When times are hard, people use  a small piece (an inch or two) of chorizo as the flavouring for this dish, instead of it being a the main feature. A chorizo ring can go a long way on a tight budget.

bacon

Similarly, brown the bacon and add it to the chorizo plate. Bacon is an optional extra here, for those not having jamón serrano to hand (or a ham bone).

caramelised onion

Using the same (now flavoured) olive oil, gently caramelise the onion until it goes sticky and starts to melt.

grated tomatoes

When the onion is caramelised, add the garlic and grate in 4 tomatoes to make a sauce.

sofregit

This is the process of making a sofrito (sofregit in Catalan) and building up flavour.

chorizo, patata y pimentón

Mix in the chopped carrot, red pepper and cubed potato, followed by the chorizo, bacon and pimentón.

lentejas

Add the rinsed lentils, plus bay leaves, a piece of jamón serrano

water

and pour on 1 1/2 pints of water.

jamón serrano

The piece of jamón serrano (or bone) in the dish is for flavour. This is normally an off cut and not the finest meat (people keep end bits in the freezer specifically for this purpose). Whole air dried country hams, in a rack (jamónera), are a common sight in Spanish kitchens and in the market, one can buy tacos (small pieces) of jamón, cheaply – these are the pieces that can’t be sliced nicely off a ham. Outside of Spain, a regular ham bone or bacon will suffice. The jamón will fall apart during cooking.

simmering

Bring the lentils and chorizo to a simmer and add salt and pepper to taste, along with a splash of sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar or balsamic can be used as a substitute). Cook covered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. This dish can also be cooked in a pressure cooker (on high) for 15 – 20 minutes, but do fry the chorizo and caramelise the onions before putting the lid on.

lentils and chorizo

Serve with crusty bread and a glass of Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero.

Posted in Drink, Food, Meat, Recipes, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Pheasant with Gammon

pheasant in gammon stock

Last week, as you recall, I cooked a Basque dish called Alubias de Tolosa con Sacramentos – when I’d eaten the beans (alubias) I was left with about 1 1/2 pints stock and most of the meat from a gammon knuckle. The obvious thing to make with gammon and stock is pea and ham soup, but I had a pheasant in the fridge which needed eating and I though it would go well with cured pork.

cooking gammon

Gammon Stock recipe:

1 gammon knuckle
1 stick celery (chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
1 large onion, (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (peeled)
2 pints water
Extra virgin olive oil
1 slice pork belly (optional)
2 morcillas de cebolla (optional)
2 chorizos (optional)

Note that the optional ingredients were needed in the previous Alubias de Tolosa con Sacramentos recipe, but can be omitted here, if cooking from scratch.

Ideally soak the gammon knuckle overnight, then, using a large cast iron casserole, fry a chopped onion in extra virgin olive oil until it goes translucent and stir in the carrots, celery and garlic. Rinse the soaked gammon and place it on top of the vegetables before pouring on 2 pints of water. Bring almost to a boil and scoop off any scum that comes to the surface before covering with a lid and removing to a preheated oven at 150º C. Turn the gammon every hour or so. It will take about 3 1/2 hours before the knuckle is tender.

browned pheasant

Pheasant in Gammon Stock recipe (serves 3):

1 pheasant
1 1/2 pints gammon stock and meat (from the above stock recipe)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
1 stick celery (chopped)
6 juniper berries (crushed)
1 teaspoon pimentón de la vera dulce
1 teaspoon pimentón de la vera picante
a squirt tomato purée
a splash or two of sherry vinegar (to taste)
a dessertspoon plain flour
2 bay leaves
olive oil
cracked black pepper

mirepoix

First, brown the pheasant all over in extra virgin olive oil to caramelise the sugars in the meat. Remove the pheasant to a plate and using the same cast iron casserole and oil, fry the onion until it goes translucent and then add the other vegetables and juniper berries.

flour and pimentón

Squirt in the tomato purée  and sprinkle on the pimentón and flour – mix in to make a roux.

gammon jelly

The gammon stock set beautifully in the fridge like brawn. This is due to large amounts of gelatine in the knuckle bone and skin, which is where jelly comes from.

gammon jelly stock

Mix the jelly into the casserole with the vegetables. As it becomes warm, the jelly will melt.

bubbling stock

Within a few minutes, you’ll have a bubbling stock. Season with cracked black pepper – no salt required when cooking with gammon! Add a splash of sherry vinegar to taste, along with 2 bay leaves.

browned pheasant in stock

Return the pheasant to the casserole, put the lid on and place in a preheated oven at 150ºC for 90 – 120 minutes, turning the bird occasionally. The time is not critical after an hour and a half, at which point the lid can be removed to thicken the sauce a little – do turn the breast side down to keep it moist.

celeriac balls

Serve with fried celeriac balls and a glass of robust red wine, such as La Niña Roja.

Posted in Drink, Food, Game, Meat, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Alubias de Tolosa con Sacramentos

alubias de tolosa con sacramentos

Alubias de Tolosa are a small dark purple (almost back) bean, with a single white dot on the side, from Tolosa in Pais Vasco. Tolosa has become famous for it’s beans, which are produced locally in small quantities. These beans are commonly cooked slowly and often served with “sacraments.”

alubias

According to the Association of Producers of Alubias de Tolosa, the beans may have been brought over from the New World in the 16th Century, but, they didn’t become an important crop until the 18th and 19th Centuries. At one time beans were eaten on a daily basis in Pais Vasco (not just this variety) and by 1914 the annual Alubias de Tolosa harvest reached about 4 million kilos. The popularity of beans declined during the second half of the 20th Century, but in the last 10 years or so, there has been a resurgence, due to a consumer desire for healthy diets. Tolosa sits on the main trade route between Western France and Spain and the town’s market has become famous for selling these beans.

soaking beans

I had some Alubias de Tolosa a couple of weeks ago at La Tasca de la Vasca – they were so good that I went home and started looking up recipes straight away. The beans can be cooked more or less on their own, with little more than onions and olive oil. Alubias de Tolosa con Sacramentos is a more elaborate dish, where beans and several types of pork are cooked separately and served together with cabbage and guindillas.

Alubias de Tolosa con Sacramentos recipe (serves 4):

For the Beans:
500g of dried Tolosa beans (or turtle beans)
1 1/2 pints of water
5 dessertspoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic (chopped)
a squirt of anchovy paste
a splash of sherry vinegar

For the Meat:
1 gammon knuckle
2 slices pork belly
2 morcillas de cebolla
2 cooking chorizos (soft and uncured)
1 stick celery (chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic (peeled)
2 pints water
Extra virgin olive oil

my left foot

There are variations on which pork ingredients one should use – most (if not all) include chorizo and morcilla and the difference comes with ribs, unsliced bacon, brined pork, pork belly, pig’s ear and pig’s tail. I set out to buy a piece of smoked bacon, a couple of ribs and some slices of pork belly. When I arrived at the Spanish butcher, he had some excellent chorizo and morcilla, but no pieces of bacon, he did however, have cheap gammon knuckles, which I thought would cover bacon and ribs.

Before proceeding, both the gammon and the beans should be soaked overnight (separately). This is a slow cooked dish and it would be a good idea to allow yourself 4 – 5 hours before serving supper.

mirepoix

For the gammon, using a large cast iron casserole, fry a chopped onion in extra virgin olive oil until it goes translucent, then stir in the carrots, celery and garlic.

cooking gammon

Rinse the soaked gammon and place it on top of the vegetables before pouring on 2 pints of water. Bring almost to a boil and scoop off any scum that comes to the surface before covering with a lid and removing it to a preheated oven at 150º C. Turn the gammon every hour or so. It will take about 3 1/2 hours before the knuckle is tender.

caramelised onion

Meanwhile, using another casserole, gently caramelise a chopped onion in olive oil. Keep stirring and don’t put the lid on! You are caramelising not sweating.

beans, onion and garlic

When the onion is soft and slightly brown, stir in the garlic and the rinsed beans. Add 5 dessertspoons of extra virgin olive oil and cover with water (about 1 1/2 pints). Bring to a simmer and cook on low with the lid on (or in the oven, if you have room) for a couple of hours, until the beans become soft and tender. Do stir occasionally and pour on more water if necessary.

cooked beans

The beans can be cooked for more than 2 hours if you wish (mine were cooking for 3 hours) – the longer you cook them the softer they get. They should start to break down a little and the liquid will look like chocolate. If you wish, once they are soft, a cup or so, can be mashed to thicken the sauce. A quick in and out whiz with a stick blender will also do the job. Taste the beans and season with a squirt of anchovy paste and sherry vinegar  If the beans are ready before the meat, they can be set aside with the lid on and warmed up (if necessary) at the appropriate time.

gammon and meat

When the gammon has been cooked for about 3 hours, the pork belly can go in with it for an hour. Add the chorizo and the morcilla for the final 15 minutes only!

gammon rojo

Notice how the pimentón leaches out of the chorizo and flavours the broth. The liquid isn’t normally added to the beans, but since I’d  made it like a stock (it tasted amazing) and it had some saltiness from the gammon, I stirred in a spoonful or two, to taste.

sacramentos

Some recipes call for the sacraments to be served on top of the beans – no doubt this array of pork sacraments would have been enough to convince the Inquisition (not disbanded until 1834) of one’s fealty to the Catholic Church.

alubias de tolosa

Other recipes (including Anna la Vasca’s) prefer the meat and sausages to be chopped up and stirred in. I only used a single piece of the gammon, roughly the size of a slice of pork belly. I have other plans for the gammon meat and stock later…

guindillas

Alubias de Tolosa con Sacramentos should be served with spicy guindilla peppers (pickled in white wine vinegar) and boiled cabbage on the side. Guindillas come from the Basque Country (like the beans), but you can buy them in jars from Spanish shops or online. Failing that, other pickled peppers may taste slightly different, but will still be a good compliment to the beans.

I recommend drinking a Basque wine with this, such as Txakoli, otherwise, a tempranillo from neighbouring Navarra might be acceptable.

Posted in Food, Meat, Recipes, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Pheasant with Navy Beans

pheasant with navy beans

Pheasant were probably introduced to Britain by the Romans and were definitely well established by the time of the Normans. It should be relatively easy to buy pheasant from a decent butcher during the shooting season, October 1st to February 1st and from December onwards they should be the size of a small chicken. I recommend hanging pheasant (intact), in a cool dry place, for at least 3 days and up to 10 days to improve the flavour. Once plucked and gutted a pheasant should be refrigerated and eaten within a couple of days. A good sized pheasant will feed 2 people (even greedy ones like me).

pheasant

Pheasant with Navy Beans recipe (serves 3 people):

1 large pheasant (jointed)
1/2 chorizo picante ring (chopped)
2 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
250g dried navy beans (or 1 tin)
1 large onion (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
3 teaspoons rosemary, sage and thyme (a few sprigs of each), 6 juniper berries, coarse sea salt and black peppercorns ground in a mortar and pestle
2 bay leaves
a heaped teaspoonful smoked pimentón dulce
1/2 teaspoonful smoked pimentón picante
a pinch of crushed chillis
2 dessertspoons plain flour
1 dessertspoon tomato pureé
a squirt of anchovy paste
1/2 pint pheasant stock
a glass of red wine
a splash of sherry vinegar
extra virgin olive oil for frying
Sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

navy beans

Navy beans originally came from the Americas. The beans became popular in Spain and were probably spread through Europe by the Jews who were expelled from Iberia. It is thought that the bean returned to the Americas in long slow cooked dishes, like cholent, which is probably the origin of cassoulet in France and baked beans in the United States.  If using dry beans like me, do make sure you soak them overnight. Obviously beans from a tin or jar are ready to use.

pheasant browned

Joint the pheasant, season it and brown all over in extra virgin olive oil. You are not cooking the meat at this stage, just caramelising the sugars in the skin. Don’t overcrowd the pan, do this in two batches if necessary. When suitably brown, remove the pheasant to a plate.

bacon, chorizo and onion

Using the same cooking vessel (cazuela or cast iron casserole) and oil, gently fry a chopped onion until it is soft and brown. Stir in the bacon and chorizo with  pinch of crushed chilli and allow the meat to take some colour.

carrot, celery and garlic

Add the carrot, celery and garlic and allow to cook for a few minutes, before mixing in the tomato purée and anchovy paste, then sprinkle on the ground herbs, pimentón and flour – stir to create a roux.

bay and beans

Pour in the stock, red wine and sherry vinegar to make a a sauce. When this is done, the beans and bay leaves go in too.

pheasant with beans

Return the pheasant to the cazuela and turn the heat up to medium.

simmering

When the dish starts to simmer, cover and turn the heat down.

skin

Cook for about an hour and a half on low (you can do this in the oven at 150º C if your cooking vessel will fit). Stir occasionally and check the seasoning after about an hour. Cook for the last 30 minutes uncovered, so that a skin starts to form on top.

Serve with seasonal vegetables and some crusty brown sourdough bread. I recommend a robust red wine to go with this, such as Palacios Remondo la Vendimia.

Other pheasant posts

Posted in Drink, Fish, Food, Game, Meat, Recipes, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments