Hígados de Pollo al Jerez

hígados de pollo al jerez

Hígados de Pollo al Jerez is a simple chicken liver dish with sherry that packs an incredible punch! This is probably my favourite chicken liver recipe, which can be served as a tapa, with triangles of fried bread, or as a main course with rice or mashed potato.

Receta de Hígados de Pollo al Jerez:

500g chicken livers (cut into bite sized pieces)
250g pork belly slices (sliced about 1 cm thick)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
a level teaspoon cumin seeds (ground with a mortar and pestle, with a pinch of coarse sea salt)
chopped parsley (to serve)
a small glass of Fino sherry
a splash of sherry vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
generous amounts of extra virgin olive oil

hígados de pollo

Clean the livers beforehand – trim off any sinews and cut into bite sized pieces.

panceta

Season the pork belly slices with sea salt and cracked black pepper, then brown in extra virgin olive oil. When done, remove to a plate. Pork belly is called panceta in Spanish – you can use a piece of cured panceta (bacon) here if you wish, sliced in the same way.

hìgado

Do the same with the chicken livers, but don’t overcook them. Pink is good at this stage. Chicken livers can be eaten pink (but not bloody), provided that they have reached a temperature of 73.9ºC.

cebolla

Turn the heat down and gently sofreír (poach) the onion until it goes soft and sticky. Add more oil as necessary.

ajos

Stir in the chopped garlic.

pimentón de la vera

Return the panceta to the pan and sprinkle with cumin, pimentón and thyme.

fetges de pollastre

Turn the heat up and return the chicken livers to the cazuela.

fino

Pour on the Fino Sherry and Sherry Vinegar.

jerez y vinagre

Allow the alcohol to burn off for a few minutes and the liquid will thicken a little. Do not cook for too long, or the livers will become hard, instead of having the desired light and fluffy texture.

fetges de pollastre amb xerès

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately on a little mound of mashed potato for supper, or with slices of fried bread as a tapa. The simple combination of cumin, pimentón, sherry and thyme is incredible! The chicken livers stay soft and tender while the pork belly provides bite. Drink a glass or two of Elegante Fino Sherry Palomino N.V. from Gonzalez-Byass with the Hígados de Pollo al JerezFino is a crisp dry sherry and should be served chilled. It makes for a perfect aperitif which goes exceptionally well with tapas. It’s a far cry from the sickly sweet sherries that the British love to drink at Christmas!

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Merluza a la Gallega

merluza a la gallega

Merluza a la Gallega is a typical hake dish from Galicia. Merluza a la Gallega is a fairly simple dish of potatoes, onion and hake made special with a garlic and pimentón Ajada sauce. Galicia is a large autonomous region in the north west of Spain on the Atlantic coast. The main sources of income in this area are farming and fishing. Being next to ocean, Galicia has a much cooler and wetter climate than the South of Spain and is known for it’s dairy farming. It is famous for it’s beef (very popular with Basque chefs), coming from Rubia Gallega dairy cows which are put out to grass when their milking days are over. They literally spend years grazing (until they are 8 – 18 years old) which makes for beautifully tasty and tender meat, currently fetching a high price internationally.

hake

Hake is a firm fleshed, white fish, with a very solid spine – it has few little bones and is easy to slice or fillet. Hake isn’t highly prized in Britain, though there are a lots of them in British waters – most get exported to Spain, where it’s one of the most popular fish. Interestingly, many British fishing boats are owned by Galician famillies. Hake is still fairly cheap, often selling for €6.99 per kg in the Boqueria and about £8.99 in the UK. Relative to conservation, Merluccius merluccius, the European hake, is not considered to be an endangered species.

Receta de Merluza a la Gallega (serves 3):

500g (1lb) hake (sliced across the bone)
1 large onion (cut in half then sliced)
3 or 4 medium sized potatoes (peeled and sliced)
2 bay leaves
a glass dry white wine
1/2 pint fish stock
water to cover the potatoes and onions
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
chopped parsley (to serve)

Ajada:

6 cloves garlic (sliced)
1 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
2 cups of stock from the fish and potatoes
a splash or two of sherry vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

lluç

First, as with all white fish, sprinkle on a little salt on both sizes, an hour before cooking. This firms up the flesh and helps to bring out the flavour.

cebollas y patatas

Peel the potatoes and slice them quite thickly. Cut the onion in half and then into thinner slices than the potatoes. Layer these vegetables in a large saucepan. Pour on a glass of dry white wine and 1/2 pint of fish stock. Add water just enough to cover. This is commonly cooked with water alone, but the wine and fish stock give it an extra litttle kick.

hirviendo

Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper, sink 2 bay leaves into the liquid and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to a simmer.

merluza

When the potatoes are tender to the fork (about 15 minutes) sit the hake steaks on top and put the lid back on for 5 minutes, or until the fish looks done. Take the dish off the heat.

ajos laminados

Next make the Ajada – gently fry the sliced garlic (ajos laminados) in olive oil until it starts to brown.

pimentón de la vera

Immediately add the pimentón and remove from the heat while stirring.

vinagre

Splash on the sherry vinegar and return to the heat.

ajada

Pour on 2 cups of stock from the fish and potatoes – cook for a couple of minutes to reduce slightly.

habas y guisantes

Arrange the potatoes, onions and hake in a serving dish. Add some of the cooking liquid, but not all of it (reserve that for another day). Drizzle the fish with the Ajada and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with fresh peas and broad beans.

allioli

Allioli makes a perfect acompaniment, along with some crusty bread. I reccomend drinking a glass or two of Faustino Rivero Ulecia, an Albariño wine from Galicia.

 

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Arròs Brut

arròs brut

Arròs Brut (dirty rice) is a soupy rice dish which comes from Mallorca. It gets it’s name by nature of the dirty looking broth, made dark by mixing in a small amount of ground up liver. This is fairly common in picadas from els Països Catalans (the Catalan speaking countries). It is said, that one has to wash one’s feet in it, to create a really good dirty version! This wet, stew like, rice dish is quite similar to Arroz Caldoso, both of which are almost certainly a precursor to Paella, which is a relatively modern dish, invented in the 18th Century. These rice dishes are definitely related to Jambalaya and Dirty Rice from Louisiana, as the state was part of New Spain from 1762 – 1800 and continued to be administered by the Spanish for 3 years when it reverted back to the French, prior to the Louisiana Purchase.

The inclusion of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in the picada (thickener and flavour enhancer) suggests a Moorish origin, as does the saffron in the sauce. The use of liver in the Arròs Brut makes it a country dish, often cooked with rabbit, hare, snails, etc.  My recipe is definitely more towny, using pork and chicken, but you will also find recipes for Arròs Brut with lobster, squid, cuttlefish and mussels (the dirtiness in the seafood version is achieved with dried cuttlefish ink)

Recepta d’Arròs Brut (serves 4):

300g pork ribs
300g chicken thighs
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (chopped)
3 large tomatoes (grated)
1 red pepper (chopped)
6 or 7 mushrooms (preferably níscalos if you can get them)
a handful of green beans – haricots vert/judías verdes (chopped)
a large handful of fresh peas
300g (2 cups) Bomba rice
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera picante
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
a large pinch saffron
a handful of parsley (chopped) – save a little as dressing
1 litre home made chicken stock
a large glass dry white wine
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

ñora pepper

Ñora peppers, used here in the picada, are a small round mild red pepper. They are dried and used rehydrated – you pierce them and soak them overnight, or for 15 minutes in boiling water. Remove the stems and seeds. They can be ground up with a mortar and pestle (or blender) and in some recipes the soft inner flesh is scraped out and added directly to a sauce. Ñora peppers are a very important ingredient in the Catalan Salsa Romesco (which is very good with fish) and are ground up to make pimentón de Murcia.

Picada:

a fried chicken liver
a ñora pepper
a pinch cinnamon
a pinch grated nutmeg
2 cloves
coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper
3 or 4 large spoonfuls of the cooking liquid

pollo

Season the chicken thighs and brown in plenty of hot olive oil. Reserve to a plate.

costillas de cerdo y hígado

Next do the same with the pork ribs and a chicken liver. The liver will only need a couple of minutes cooking time.

cebolla

Using the same pan, turn the heat down and sofregir (poach) the onion until it becomes soft and sticky. Add more olive oil if necesary.

tomate

Mix in the chopped garlic and then grate on 3 medium tomatoes (cut them in half, shred the wet side and throw away the skin). Allow to bubble away for 5 – 10 minutes and thicken.

pimiento rojo

Stir in the chopped red pepper, followed by the mushrooms. Ideally use níscalos (saffron milk caps) or other country mushrooms.

pimentón d la vera

Sprinkle on the pimentón.

caldo

Return the meat to the cazuela (but not the liver) and pour on 1 litre of chicken stock, along with a large glass of dry white wine.

judías verdes y perejil

Add the green beans, a large handful of chopped parsley and 2 bay leaves.

picada

Using a mortar and pestle (or blender), mash the cooked chicken liver with the soaked ñora pepper (stem and seeds removed), a little coarse sea salt, a few black peppercorns, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of grated nutmeg, 2 cloves and 3 or 4 spoonfuls of the cooking liquid. When a thick sauce (picada) has been achieved, pour into the cazuela. In Catalunya (where the come from) picadas normally contain ground nuts and dry bread and are added towards the end of cooking – this is not the case here, but the word picada means chopped or ground up, as well as being a Catalan cooking term.

hirviendo

Simmer for 30 minutes.

arròs

Check the seasoning, then mix in 2 cups (300g) dry Bomba (or similar) rice. Unlike paella, you should stir this often or it will stick. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until the rice is tender. Do add more stock if the broth gets too thick.

azafrán

In the meantime, grind up a generous pinch of saffron and pour on a little boiling water. Add this to the Arròs Brut a few minutes before serving (this stops the saffron flavour from dissipating).

guisantes

In the last 5 minutes boil a handful of fresh peas – they can be cooked in the Arròs Brut, but will loose their lovely bright green colour.

arroz mallorquín

Spread the peas out on top of the soupy rice along with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

arròs casero

This is very thirsty rice, so serve immediately (or it will drink all the broth!) with some crusty bread. To accompany the Arròs Brut I recommend drinking a glass or two of Es Mussol (the owl) a dry white wine from Conde de Suyrot in Mallorca, made with the Malvasia grape, more commonly used in making sweeter wines. It’s quite probable that this grape variety originally came from Crete.

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Faves a la Catalana

faves a la catalana

Faves a la Catalana (habas a la catalana – Spanish – Catalan Broad Beans) is a classic dish from Catalunya, “One of the gastronomic pillars of the nation. The hegemony of this supreme triad is indisputable” – Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, author and gastronome.

faves

The dish contains fresh faves (broad beans), pork belly or bacon and blood pudding.
The fact that Faves a la Catalana (also known as faves ofegades – smothered beans) is made solely with old world ingredients, suggests that it is, at the very least, Mediaeval in origin, if not considerably older. Broad Beans are the original European bean, having first been cultivated in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago. Earlier this year, I bought the first of the season faves from one of the local farm stalls outside the Boqueria. When I told the lady serving me that broad beans were my abuela’s favourite vegetable (mine too), she picked out all the biggest ones for me! It just goes to show how much the Catalans (and Spanish) love their grandmothers. I have eaten this dish many times in Barcelona, the best of which were served at Gelida and La Palmera.

Recepta per Faves a la Catalana (serves 2):

3 slices pork belly (sliced thin)
1 medium morcilla (sliced)
1 kg broad beans (shelled)
3 spring onions (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 glass dry white wine
a squirt anchovy paste (to taste)
1 bay leaf
a sprig of mint (chopped)
a sprig of mint (to serve)
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil

botifarra negre

Slice the botifarra negra (Catalan, morcilla in Spanish) and brown it in extra virgin olive oil. Don’t cook it for too long to it will fall apart. Reserve to a plate.

panceta

Slice the pork belly and brown it in the same oil as the morcilla. Do this in two batches or it will poach instead of brown. You could also use a piece of smoked bacon (cut similarly) instead. Just to confuse you, pork belly is called panceta, as is cansalada (tocino in Spanish), meaning bacon. This is because bacon is made by curing pork belly. A Catalan pork butcher’s shop is called a cansaladeria (tocinería in Spanish). You will, perhaps, notice that the Spanish word panceta is very close to the Italian pancetta which comes from the word pancia meaning stomach or belly.

cebes tendres

Return all the panceta to the pan and the chopped spring onions (cebollas tiernas).

alls

Cook for a minute or two before adding the garlic.

habas

Mix in the broad beans and pour on a glass of dry white wine. Some recipes call for aniseed liquor or vi ranci.

vi i menta

Season with salt and pepper, then sink a bay leaf into the liquid. Sprinkle on a small sprig of chopped mint (menta). Don’t use too much or it will overwhelm the other flavours. I don’t think it’s necessary, but Catalans often add a pinch sugar. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes, until the beans are tender.

estofat

Check the seasoning, add more salt and pepper if necessary, or even a squirt of anchovy paste for an extra savoury kick.

morcilla

Return the morcilla to the cazuela for 2 minutes.

habas a la catalana

Serve with a sprig of mint on top along with crusty bread, or better still, pa amb tomàquet (pan con tomate). I recommend drinking a glass or two of Honeymoon wine, from Parés Baltà in the Penedès, Catalunya.

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Gurullos con Jibia

gurullos con jibia

I was in a supermarket and noticed packets of Gurullos next to the pasta – they looked like little grains of rice. Having never had Gurullos before, I bought some. On arriving home, I discovered that Gurullos are typically used in stews from the Spanish regions of Almería, Jaén, Murcia and the South East. Generally, stews made inland use rabbit and snails, while on the coast they use cuttlefish or octopus. Rabbit and octopus are expensive at the moment, but I knew I’d get a cheap cuttlefish in the market, so my mind was made up.

gurullos

It’s normal to make Gurullos at home by hand – I’m quite sure that people probably used to make them with leftover dough, when baking. They are made of flour, salt, water and sometimes, a little olive oil or saffron. A dough is mixed as per any other and is rolled by hand into spaghetti like strands. Little rice grain pieces are twisted and pinched from the long strand and then left for at least 24 hours to dry.

Gurullos date back to at least the 13th Century in Andalucia and a recipe for them can be found in Ibn Razin’s Andalucian cookbook (dating back to that time) entitled Guiso de los Fideos. It is said that until a couple of decades ago, drying Gurullos on white tablecloths were a common sight on the roofs of Andalucian houses. You might have noticed that Gurullos are remarkably similar to Italian Orzo and Greek Kritharáki (little barley). I can find no direct written connection, but there are recorded Greek and Roman pasta recipes dating back to the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD. All three of these rice shaped pastas are used to bulk out soups and stews and the Mediterranean is a huge melting pot for food and culture. When eating this, it’s not hard to see a connection in the taste and texture, with the more modern fideuà and paella. Having studied a lot of Gurullos recipes, it would appear that the stew can contain many different ingredients, aside from my recipe, this includes leeks, judías blancas (white beans), ñora peppers, artichokes, cloves, guindilla peppers, cumin, chicken and partridge. In most Spanish recipes one does not swap choricero peppers for ñoras, but for Gurullos, it would appear to be acceptable.

Receta de Gurullos con Jibia (serves 4):

800g cuttlefish cleaned (chopped into 2cm pieces)
200g gurullos
100g dried chickpeas (200g cooked)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (in their skin)
1 red pepper (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
2 choricero peppers
2 large tomatoes (grated)
2 large potatoes (chasqueado/snapped)
a large handful of fresh peas and broad beans
2 large squirts of anchovy paste
a handful fresh parsley
a teaspoon pimentón de Murcia (this is unsmoked)
2 bay leaves
a pinch saffron
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil
a little chopped parsley (to garnish)

If you feel like going the whole hog and making your own Grullos by hand, there is a great video here, showing the dough rolling and stew cooking.

garbanzos

To reconstitute dried chickpeas (garbanzos) they must be soaked overnight and cooked the next day for up to an hour depending on size and age. To speed the process up, garbanzos can be soaked in boiling water for an hour and cooked in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes. Chickpeas are available, ready to eat or cook with, in cans and jars. Pulses in jars are cooked at a lower temperature to tins, which means they retain their texture and flavour better (BBC Food Programme on Spanish beans).

jibia

I bought a fresh jibia (cuttlefish) at the market and got them to remove the beak and stomach. At home I removed the skin (it pulls off fairly easily), trimmed out the tougher parts around the wings and cut the flesh into 2cm pieces.

ajos y choriceros

Remove the stems and seeds of 2 choricero peppers, then gently poach in olive oil with 4 garlic cloves (skin on). They only need a couple of minutes per side. Remove from the oil and save for later.

cebolla

Using the same oil fry (sofreír) the chopped onion – add more olive oil (as required) to keep the onion moist and stop it sticking. Stir often!

pimientos

When the onion is translucent and changing colour, move it to the outside of the pan and add the red and green peppers. Mix them in with the onion after a few minutes.

sepia

Clear a space in the middle before adding the chopped cuttlefish. This gets the same treatment as the peppers.

tomates

Add the chopped garlic and grate the tomatoes on top (cut in half and grate the wet side – discard the skin).

pimentón

Cook gently until the squid and vegetables release some liquid. Sprinkle on the pimentón dulce. In Murcia, they produce an unsmoked pimentón (from ñora peppers), so it’s more in keeping with this corner of Spain to use their paprika. Some recipes do not use pimentón at all.

hirviendo

Pour the garbanzos (chickpeas) and their cooking liquid into the pan, along with 2 bay leaves. If using tinned chickpeas, add at least 1 pint of water. Bring the pan to a simmer.

patatas

Cut the peeled potatoes roughly (insert a small knife and snap [chasquear] pieces of potato off – this allows more starch to escape and thicken the sauce) into the pot.

habas y guisantes

Throw in a large handful of fresh broad beans and peas.

la mezcla

In the meantime, peel the fried garlic cloves and put them into a blender or jug, along with the choricero pepers, a handful of parsley, plenty of salt and 2 or 3 cups of the liquid from the pan.

mezclada

It will require quite a lot of salt, but you can do this to taste. I used a stick blender, but a liquidiser or food processor should do a good job. In the old days this would have been done with a mortar and pestle.

choricero salsa

Pour the dark liquid into the stew and combine.

estofado oscuro

Cook for 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes are quite tender. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste and perhaps a squirt or two of anchovy paste.

gurullos en la cazuela

Stir in the Grullos and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir often, Grullos are thirsty and like to stick!

azafrán

Using a mortar and pestle, grind up a generous pinch of saffron. Pour on hot water and mix into the stew. The flavour of saffron can be overwhelmed quite quickly, so it’s best to add it at the end.

gurullos con sepia

Let the Grullos sit for 5 minutes off the heat, check the seasoning, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread. I recommend a glass or two of Faustino Rivero Ulecia Albariño, Rias Baixas, to go with the Jibia.

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Albóndigas en Salsa

albóndigas con guisantes

I had a craving for Albóndigas en Salsa (meatballs in sauce) which can only be fixed if one can find them on a Menú del Día – I wanted albóndigas de la abuela hoy (grandma’s meatballs today), so I needed to make them myself, en casa!

albóndigas de ternera

Meatball sauce recipes are often quite thick with tomato, but I was looking for the kind of thing often served at lunchtime in Barcelona (above at Flor de Maig) – in a savoury brown sauce. Eventually I found the sort of recipe I wanted in La Vanguardia, the Catalan newspaper that I’d worked for in the 1990s. They call it La receta de albóndigas de toda la vida (the meatball recipe for all your life [always]). The newspaper tells us that the word albóndigas (mandonguilles in Catalan) is Arab in origin, coming from al-bunduqa,  meaning “the ball”. There are meatball recipes in the Roman cookbook Apicius, but the Persians have recipes with lamb which predate it. It’s probable that albóndigas existed in Spain before the Moors arrived and that the Arab name replaced the Latin one – I wouldn’t be surprised if the Iberians were already making albóndigas before the Greeks and Carthaginians colonised the coast, at least 500 years before the Romans arrived!

What I really liked about La Vanguardia’s instructions, was this, “Hay quien las prefieren con perejil, sin perejil, con pimienta, con salsa de tomate… Y, hay quien las acompaña de arroz, patatas o verduras… No hay una única receta para preparar las albóndigas pero sí unas directrices básicas para su elaboración” (There are those who prefer them with parsley, without parsley, with pepper, with tomato sauce… And, there are those who accompany them with rice, potatoes or vegetables… There is no single recipe for preparing meatballs, but there are some basic guidelines for their preparation). So following their instruction, I made up my own recipe, but stuck closer to their salsa than for the albóndigas.

pork belly slices

Las Albondigas (serves 3 or 4):

500g of beef chuck, brisket or shoulder (minced)
250g of pork belly (minced)
1/2 a large onion
6 cloves garlic
a handful of fresh coriander (chopped) or parsley if you prefer
1/2 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera picante
1/2 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera dulce
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (ground)
1/2 teaspoon of ground mixed herbs (rosemary, sage and thyme)
1 egg
3 dessertspoons home made breadcrumbs
2 dessertspoons flour
sea salt cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil for frying
save a teaspoon of coriander/parsley (chopped) for serving

breadcrumbs

Ideally mince the meat with the onion, garlic and breadcrumbs, then mix in the seasoning followed by an egg.

mincing

Otherwise, buy the meat ready minced (the minced beef with a higher fat content) and put the onion and garlic into a food processor to make it fine enough to blend into the meat by hand.

taste test

Test the flavour and seasoning by frying a small amount of meat beforehand.

dusty balls

When happy, make small balls with the mixture in the palms of your hands, then roll in plain flour. You should get about 15 meatballs – put these on a plate or tray and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

freír las albóndigas

Fry the albóndigas in plenty of hot olive oil – don’t overcrowd the pan, or they will poach and go sticky. Using a large frying pan I recommend cooking in two batches. As they contain raw pork, do make sure they are thoroughly cooked. If you have a meat thermometer, check that they reach 62ºC and allow them to rest for 10 minutes (they will continue to cook during that time).

La Salsa:

1/2 a large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
a squirt of anchovy paste
1 dessertspoon of flour
1 glass of red wine
1/2 pint home made chicken stock
a splash of sherry vinegar
1 bay leaf
sea salt cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil
a little water if it starts to get too thick.

cebolla

Do use the olive oil from cooking the meatballs, though I used a smaller frying pan to control the heat better when cooking the onion. Sofreír (poach) the onion until it’s soft and sticky – add more olive oil as necessary and stir often. The dirty colour comes from having cooked the albóndigas in the same oil – it’s not burnt onion (which you don’t want).

ajos

Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two,

harina

before stirring in a dessertspoon of flour (do use any leftover from rolling the meatballs).

roux

Slowly mix in the red wine and stock to make a sauce – cook off the alcohol for a few minutes.

salsa

Splash in the sherry vinegar and a squirt of anchovy paste. Check the seasoning and sprinkle on salt and pepper as necessary. When done, liquidise to make a smooth sauce – I put it into a jug and used a stick blender.

albóndigas en salsa

Return the meatballs to the original large frying pan and pour over the sauce. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add a little water if the sauce looks too thick.

Albóndigas en Salsa often comes with peas in the sauce. To keep the peas a bright green colour, I cooked a handful of fresh ones separately, while the meatballs bubbled in the pan.

To serve, sprinkle with coriander or parsley, then drain the peas and spread around the meatballs. In Catalunya, mandonguilles (albóndigas) generally come with potatoes (fried, poached or boiled) or rice. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Con 2 Huevos (with two eggs/balls), a Tempranillo from the Rioja wine region.

mandonguilles amb pèsols

Al fin, these are delicious, albóndigas, but the craving never goes away and you’ll beg your abuela for more!

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Judías con Cabrito

judías con cabrito

Quite literally, Judías con Cabrito means Jews with kid goat! The word for Jews (Judías) in Spanish has long been associated with beans – this is not a pejorative term, it’s actually down to the fact that the Jews cultivated the original Mediterranean broad bean, some 10.000 years ago and until 1492, when Columbus discovered the Americas, these were the only European beans! See here for an extended explanation.

I found a butcher selling goat for 6.99 a kilo, so had to buy some! On returning home I looked for a new goat recipe and came across Judías con Cordero – lamb with beans. Young goat is very similar to lamb in flavour, so I took the idea and changed the recipe to suit my taste and fridge contents.

Receta de Judías con Cabrito (seres 4):

1kg kid goat (chopped on the bone)
3 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large onion chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
1 stick celery (chopped)
1 red pepper (chopped)
500g white beans (navy/haricot)
1/2 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera picante
1/2 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera dulce
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
a handful fresh coriander (chopped)
a glass of red wine
a splash of sherry vinegar
1 1/4 pints chicken stock
extra virgin olive oil (copious quantities)
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

I used dried alubias blancas (navy/haricot beans), soaked for 1 hour in boiling water and then cooked for 8 minutes, using fresh water, in a pressure cooker. Otherwise, soak the beans overnight, or use 2 tins.

cabrito

Sprinkle salt and pepper on the goat meat, then brown the pieces in hot olive oil – do this in two or three batches – if you crowd the pan the meat will poach. Reserve to a plate.

beicon

Brown the bacon in the same oil and remove.

cebolla

Turn the heat down a little and sofreír (poach) the onion until it’s soft – do add more olive oil – that and attentive stirring stops it burning. This is a specific Spanish cooking technique.

ajo, apio y zanahoria

Mix in the celery and carrot, followed by the garlic and red pepper.

beicon y hierbas

Return the bacon to the pan. Warm the cumin seeds in a frying pan – when they give off an aroma, grind them with a mortar and pestle and a pinch of coase sea salt (this helps in the grinding). Sprinkle the cumin, thyme and pimentón into the pot.

cabrito, judías y caldo

Return the goat meat, followed by the judías blancas (white beans) and two bay leaves to the casserole. Add a splash of sherry vinegar pour on a glass of red wine (let the alcohol burn off for a couple of minutes) followed by 1 1/4 pints chicken stock (or whatever is needed to cover the meat and vegetables). Chop a handful of coriander and mix that in too. Check the seasoning (add more salt and pepper if necessary). Bring the pot to a simmer, put the lid on and remove to a preheated oven at 140º C for one and a half to two hours, or until the goat is tender.

cabrito con arroz

Finish off with a splash more sherry vinegar and for the last 15 minutes leave the lid off. Sprinkle on a little chopped coriander and serve with rice or potatoes. I recommend drinking a glass or two of La Cabra y La Bota (the goat and the boot) a red wine from Ribera del Andarax in Andalucia.

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Patatas a la Riojana

patatas a la riojana

Patatas a la Riojana is a simple yet incredibly delicious dish from La Rioja and Álava in Spain. Álava (part of Pais Vasco) and La Rioja are neighbours and at one time both were inhabited by a pre Roman tribe called the Vascones who are today’s Basques. Historically though, this dish is relativley modern, since most of it’s ingredients were unknown in Europe until after the discovery of the Americas in 1492.

There is a wonderful story regarding Patatas a la Riojana and the legendary French Chef Paul Bocuse. It is said that the Cune winery hired Bocuse in 1979 to prepare a celebratory dinner to comemorate their 100th aniversary. Apparently Bocuse tasted a dish of Patatas a la Riojana beforehand, prepared by the winery’s cook (Pilar Grandival) and declared,”A recipe like this must represent Spain in the whole world because it’s the most delicious thing I’ve tasted in my life! You are fools because this is much better than what I am going to give you later!”

Patatas a la Riojana (serves 2 or 3 people):

a hot chorizo ring – sarta (sliced)
1 large onion (finely chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 choricero peppers
1 pimiento rojo (capsicum sweet red pepper)
1 kg flowery potatoes (chasqueado/snapped)
a splash of sherry vinegar (to taste)
1 pint water (ideally that used for soaking the choriceros)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera dulce
a teaspoon parsley (finely chopped – to serve)
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

soaking choriceros

Soak the choricero peppers in boiling water for an hour. When rehydrated, remove the seeds and scrape out the inner flesh with a teaspoon. Save the water to use later. Jars of choricero pepper paste are available online if you can’t find dry ones. Don’t worry if you can’t get choriceros, there are many Patatas a la Riojana recipes which don’t include them. Pimientos Choricero are from Gernika in Pais Vasco and can be difficult to find even in some other regions of Spain.

pimiento

Burn the red pepper all over (on a gas hob, under the grill or on a barbecue) and allow it to steam in a paper bag or container.

pimiento rojo

When cool peel off the burnt skin, remove the stalk and seeds, then chop.

chorizo

Peel the chorizo and slice into 2cm pieces. Brown it in hot olive oil, then reserve.

cebolla

Gently poach the onion in the chorizo infused oil.

choriceros

When soft and sticky, stir in the garlic, followed by the choricero flesh

pimiento rojo

and chopped pimiento rojo.

pimentón

Sprinkle on the pimentón de la Vera.

patatas

Allow to cook for a few minutes, then add the potatoes. Cut these roughly, insert a small knife and snap (chasquear) pieces of potato off. This allows more starch to escape and thicken the sauce. If you can’t get flowery potatoes, I suggest par boiling waxy ones before adding them. It’s not unheard of, for people to mash up a few of the potatoes (towards the end) to aid in the thickening process.

el regreso del chorizo

The chorizo goes back in now, along with the bay leaves.

agua

Pour on the choricero pepper soaking water (regular H2O will suffice) and a splash of sherry vinegar.

hirviendo

Bring to a simmer, season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and allow to cook for 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.

patatas a la riojana

Add more water if it gets too thick before the potatoes are soft, check the seasoning before serving and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley. This should be served with a glass of Rioja (por supuesto) – Cune Reserva is the obvious choice!

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Guisantes Salteados con Beicon

guisantes salteados con beicon

Peas, sautéed with bacon (sometimes jamón) is a very popular starter on a Menú del Día in Barcelona. The bacon can be swapped for small prawns (see here) and I’ve even seen it as a main course with an egg cooked on top. Some recipes, further south, call for the addition of pimetón.

la catedra menú

At La Catedra, on a typical menú, the peas and bacon come with a little chopped egg mixed in.

Guisantes Salteados con Beicon (serves 2 as a starter):

200g smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
200g onion (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
500g fresh shelled peas (or frozen)
200ml chicken stock
a splash dry white wine
1 bay leaf
a pinch of thyme
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper

fresh peas

Shell the peas and put them into a saucepan with cold water and a couple of turns of sea salt. I prefer fresh peas, but there’s no reason why frozen can’t be used as a substitute.

guisantes para cocinar

Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 -3 minutes, until almost tender.

guisantes refrescados

Strain the peas through a sieve and plunge into cold water with a few ice cubes to refresh them, stop the cooking and keep their bright green colour.

beicon

Chop the bacon and fry in a little olive oil. When it has browned, reserve to a plate.

cebolla

Gently fry (sofreír) the chopped onion in the bacon pan – add more olive oil (as required) to keep the onion moist and stop it sticking. Stir often!

beicon, cebolla y ajo

When the onion’s soft and sticky, mix in the garlic and bacon. Save a little bacon to use as a garnish.

guisantes, beicon, cebolla y ajo

Drain the peas and add them to the frying pan. Pour on a splash of dry white wine and the chicken stock. Sprinkle on cracked back pepper (to taste), a large pinch of thyme and don’t forget the bay leaf.

sautéed peas with bacon, onion and garlic

Allow the stock to reduce, but don’t overcook the peas or they will loose their bright green colour.

Serve with a knob of butter as a starter or side dish. I enjoyed my peas with a duck breast, boiled potatoes and a glass of Torres Verdeo, a Verdejo from the Rueda wine region.

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Cazuela de Garbanzos con Chorizo y Panceta

garbanzos con chorizo y panceta

Cazuela de Garbanzos con Chorizo y Panceta is a typical and delicious Spanish stew, using fairly basic ingredients. The recipe may vary from town to town and when times were hard, one solo chorizo (no panceta or stock) would suffice to add flavour while water, onions and chickpeas would provide the bulk to feed a hungry family.

pork belly slices

In Spanish, pork belly is called panceta. I made the mistake (several years ago) of ordering the literal translation of pork belly (vientre de cerdo) from a wholesale restaurant butcher in Calella and he brought me pork tripe with kidneys attached! Fortunately he saw the funny side of it and returned later with the required three pork bellies. When I researched this online, I discovered that it’s a common English to Spanish mistake, mostly because cured pork belly is also called panceta, like Italian pancetta! I’d peviously compounded the translation problem by buying pork belly at Cansaladeria La Moianesa, my favourite pork butcher in the Boqueria and when I asked for vientre de cerdo and pointed at the pork belly the butcher said. “Vale!” It’s easy to slip up when you can confirm things visually and vientre does mean stomach or belly!

garbanzos

Chickpeas (called garbanzos in Spain) are an Old World pulse, farmed as long ago as 3500 BC in Greece, Jericho and Turkey. Traces of wild (gathered) chickpeas have been found in French caves dating back to 6790 BC (give or take 90 years either way). Garbanzos can be dried and stored for months (if not years). They can be rehydrated and used in cooking or ground into a flour. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus, falafel, farinata, the batter for pakora and as an important addition to many salads, soups and stews throughout the Mediterranean, Africa, India and Asia.

Receta de Garbanzos con Chorizo y Panceta (serves 4):

250g fresh chorizo
250g pork belly slices (panceta)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (chopped)
3 medium tomatoes (grated)
300g dried chickpeas
1/2 pint chicken stock
a small glass red wine
a splash red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
a large pinch crushed thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

chopped parsley (to serve)

To reconstitute dried chickpeas they must be soaked overnight and cooked the next day for up to an hour depending on size and age. To speed the process up, garbanzos can be soaked in boiling water for an hour and cooked in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes. Chickpeas are available, ready to eat or cook with, in cans and jars. Pulses in jars are cooked at a lower temperature to tins, which means they retain their texture and flavour better (BBC Food Programme on Spanish beans).

chorizos browning

Fry the chorizos in olive oil to give them some colour, then remove to a plate for later. I’ve used raw, uncured chorizo, but there’s no reason why one shouldn’t use cured. In the old days (before refrigeration), fresh chorizo would have been eaten after a matanza while the cured variety would have been the main staple for everything, as it keeps for several years in a larder.

panceta browning

Cut the pork belly slices into thick pieces and fry in the same olive oil until browned. Reserve with the chorizo.

cebolla

Sofreír (poach) the chopped onion, again in the same pan and add more olive oil as necessary – be generous with it! The above looks quite brown, but in fact a lot of the colour comes from pimentón in the chorizo and the previous meat browning. This is all good and adds to the flavour. Do be careful not to burn the onion, cook on a very low heat, with lots of oil and stir …and stir!

tomates

When the onion is soft and sticky stir in the chopped garlic and grate on the tomatoes (cut them in half, grating the wet side – dispose of the leftover skin). Mix in and allow to cook for 5 minutes.

pimentón y tomillo

Add the pimentón and thyme,

caldo y garbanzos

followed by the chickpeas, bay leaves, stock, wine and vinegar. You can mix some of the chickpea liquid with a stock cube if you don’t have home made stock to hand. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

one hour

Allow to cook for an hour or so, on low, with the lid on.

chorizo y panceta

Return the chorizo and panceta to the pot for a final 30 minutes (if you cook pork belly and chorizo for too long in stock they loose a lot of flavour and texture). Do pour on more libations of wine and/or stock if necessary.

cazuela de garbanzos con chorizo y panceta

Sprinkle on a little chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Castillo San Lorenzo Reserva (a Rioja) with the stew.

I did see a recipe for this from a Spanish processed food manufacturer who added camarones or gammas to the pot. While I won’t be buying their preprepared ingredients in jars, the idea of adding prawns to other fresh provisions, is good inspiration and makes me think of gumbo!

 

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