Saturday, December 7, 2019

MADROÑO BERRIES--A FORAGER'S FIND

My son Ben picking madroño berries in the Sierra Blanca. (Photo by Francisco Javier García González.)
Ben came home from a trek in the Sierra Blanca with a bag of foraged red berries. Madroños. I recognized them from pictures, but I had never eaten a madroño berry before.

The madroños sat on the kitchen table for a few days before I decided to take up the challenge of creating a way to use them.

The madroño (Arbutus unedo) is a bush/small tree, sometimes called “strawberry tree” for the fruit’s resemblance to strawberries (in appearance only as it tastes absolutely nothing like strawberries), that grows all around the Mediterranean. It is related to, but not the same as, the madrona of the US Pacific Northwest (Arbutus menziesii).

Ripe madroños are deep red and slightly soft. The unripe ones (yellow) are mouth-puckeringly astringent.

Cut open, the berry shows yellow-orange flesh.

The whole fruit is edible, raw or cooked. Inside the red skins, the flesh is golden-orange. It is starchy, somewhat in the way that bananas and sweet potatoes are starchy; sweet, but insipid. Unripe fruit is distinctly astringent. The pulp of ripe berries is soft, but the texture is gritty, as if fine grains of sand had been mixed into the berries. Once cooked, the fruit was surprisingly tangy. Somewhat floury, it absorbed the cooking liquid and thickened nicely.

In the Spanish kitchen, madroños are most often used to make mermelada or to confect a liqueur, either by infusing the berries in spirits or by distilling their juice.

The madroño bush appears on the coat of arms of the city of Madrid. Since the 13th century it is pictured with a bear on its back legs, stretching towards the red berries on the tree. Both berries and bears were once native to the Madrid countryside, but no more.

The bear made me think of pork chops and the madroños suggested a fruity sauce to accompany them.


“Bear” Chops with Madroño Sauce
Chuletas de “Oso” con Salsa de Madroños

Cooked, pureed and sieved, madroñó berries make a creamy sauce.

Madroño sauce goes well with pork chop--fruity and slightly tart.





Not really bear meat, but thick-cut ibérico pork chops. Ibérico pork is exceptionally juicy. If not available, use regular pork. Regular pork may require added olive oil in browning; ibérico pork is best cooked in preheated skillet with no added fat.

I started out with one pound of madroño berries. I set aside some whole ones for garnish. After removing stems and discarding unripe and blemished fruit, I had about 12 ounces (2 cups) of berries.

Unless you are intrigued by a gritty sauce, I suggest sieving the sauce after pureeing it to remove all those teensy seeds.

I added no sweetening beyond orange juice to the sauce. If you like a sweet-sour sauce, add a little sugar to taste.

Serves 4.

3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped shallots
2 cups whole madroño berries
½ cup white wine
½ cup water
¼ cup orange juice
Strip of orange zest
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Sugar (optional)
A few uncooked madroño berries, to garnish

4 ibérico pork chops, each 1 ½ inches thick
Sprig of thyme
4 cloves garlic


For the sauce:
Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the shallots until softened, 4 minutes. Do not let them brown.

Add the madroño berries, wine, water, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook the berries, covered, until they are softened, 20 minutes.

Before sieving, tiny seeds in the sauce.

Remove and discard the orange zest. Blend the fruit to a smooth puree. Press the puree through a fine sieve, discarding the seeds and pulp remaining in the sieve.

Return the puree to the saucepan. Add salt and pepper to taste and sugar, if desired. If sauce seems too thick, stir in a little water. Heat the sauce before serving. Serve the sauce with the pork chops and a garnish of a few madroño berries.




For the pork chops:
Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Sprinkle chops with salt, pepper and thyme.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet until very hot. Place the chops in the skillet with the cloves of garlic and allow them to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and brown the reverse sides.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast the chops until they are just done, 5-10 minutes. Serve accompanied by the madroño sauce and garnished with a few whole berries.



More recipes for pork with fruity sauce:



Saturday, November 30, 2019

VEGETARIAN FEAST

Not everyone feasted on turkey for Thanksgiving. To honor one guest who is vegetarian and another who eschews gluten and dairy, we came up with a menu that everyone could eat. Charlotte made her famous sweet potato soufflé (subbing in coconut milk). Paola made crisp broccoli. Jesse did a knockout salad (and brought us fresh cranberries from the US). Peter brought baked apples with a native American berry sauce, with no added sugar. There was non-alcoholic sparkling cider for the teetotalers and a good Rioja tinto for the rest of us.


I brought the main course, an impressive stuffed pumpkin. It’s a festive dish, just what is needed for the holiday season to come.

My "birds," just out of the oven--two halves of a big pumpkin with a savory vegetarian stuffing. 


Stuffed Pumpkin (vegetarian, gluten- and dairy-free)
Calabaza Rellena (vegetariana, sin gluten, sin lacteos)

Stuffing ingredients, from top left; celery, chickpeas, gluten-free bread, leeks, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, pistachios, raisins, eggs, tofu, garlic, carrots, black olives, piquillo peppers, and, in the center, pearl millet, a gluten-free grain.

The stuffing mixture can be freely varied in both ingredients as well as quantities. Quinoa instead of millet; kidney beans instead of chickpeas; walnuts in place of pistachios. If you want a vegan version, omit the eggs. If you want a loaf that can be sliced, use more eggs.

Millet is a grain nobody thinks about. It reminds me of cous cous or bulgur, but is gluten-free.

I used traditional turkey-stuffing herbs—thyme and sage—but middle eastern spices can be used instead. Smoked pimentón adds a “meatiness” to the stuffing (tofu mixed with pimentón reminds me of chorizo). Season generously to give the stuffing some punch.

No great big pumpkins? Stuff several smaller squashes or bell peppers. Or, just bake the stuffing in a casserole or loaf pan.

Gravy, made with vegetarian stock.


You will need some well-flavored vegetarian stock to moisten the stuffing mixture and to make gravy (there’s a gravy recipe here ) to accompany it. A yogurt-based sauce would also be a good accompaniment. Whole-berry cranberry sauce is divine as a side.

 I’ve added a variety of extras to the basics, so that every bite has a crunch or a pop of flavor—nuts, olives, raisins, sun-dried tomatoes (soaked in water, then chopped). Some others to try: truffles, maybe, or fermented black garlic; dried apricots or dates; cranberries; capers or pickles; pine nuts or hazelnuts.

Rather than hollow out the pumpkin from the top, I cut it in half. After removing seeds and scooping out much of the flesh with a melon-ball cutter, I had two halves in which to heap the stuffing. It is easier to pre-bake the shells and then scoop out the flesh.

I gave the food processor a real workout! I used it to chop the onions, celery and mushrooms, to crumble the tofu and to coarsely grind the chickpeas.

Prepare and season each of the ingredients for the stuffing separately. If you’re doing this in advance, store them refrigerated, but bring them to room temperature before continuing. Mix all of them together right before stuffing and baking the squash.

This recipe serves 8 as a main course. It’s also appropriate as a side with roast turkey, chicken, pork or lamb.

Just out of the oven, in the late afternoon sunshine--stuffed pumpkin halves with crispy topping.

We carved the first half crosswise, so everyone got a slice of pumpkin (with rind, but, hey, no bones!) and stuffing. For seconds, we scooped the stuffing right out of the shell. 


1 large pumpkin or squash
Olive oil (about 1 cup total)
Salt


1 cup pearl millet
2 cups boiling water


2 cups chopped leeks and/or onions
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound mushrooms, coarsely chopped
Thyme, fresh or dried
Sage, crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup medium-dry Sherry


1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

12 ounces firm tofu
1 teaspoon smoked pimentón (paprika), plus additional to garnish


3 eggs, beaten
8 slices gluten-free bread, toasted and cut in cubes

¾ cup pistachios
¼ cup seedless raisins
¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup pitted black olives
1-2 cups vegetable stock (recipe follows)


2 carrots, cooked and quartered lengthwise
3 piquillo red peppers (from a can), cut in strips


Pumpkin balls to garnish (optional)
Arugula or other greens to garnish (optional)
Gravy or sauce to accompany the stuffed pumpkin


Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Brush the flesh with oil. Place the halves, cut-side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the pumpkin 15 minutes. Turn cut-side up and bake 10 minutes more. The flesh should be just beginning to soften, but still firm.

Use melon ball cutter to scoop out flesh. 

Remove the pumpkin from the oven. (Turn off the oven until ready to finish the dish.) When it has partially cooled, scoop out the flesh using a melon ball cutter or spoon, leaving about 1 ½ inches of flesh on sides and bottom. Turn the pumpkin shells upside down to drain. (Save the pumpkin balls to make a garnish for the platter, if desired.)

Cook the millet: Add it to boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt. Cook until tender and water is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of oil. Fluff the grains and set aside.

Sauté the vegetables: Heat 1/3 cup oil in a large skillet. Add the leeks/onions and celery. Sauté them until softened, 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with thyme, sage, pepper and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the Sherry and simmer until the alcohol is cooked off, 3 minutes.

For the chickpeas: Coarsely chop the drained chickpeas in a food processor.

 Mix the chickpeas with the sautéed vegetables. Cook 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

For the tofu: Coarsely chop the tofu in a processor with 1 tablespoon oil,  ½ teaspoon salt and the pimentón. Combine the tofu with the sautéed vegetables and chickpeas.

Place the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir the cooked millet into the eggs and mix well. Add the sautéed vegetable mixture. Add half of the bread cubes and toss them to combine with the stuffing mixture. Mix in the pistachios, raisins, olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Add enough of the stock to moisten the stuffing, about 1 cup. Taste the mixture and add additional salt, pepper, pimentón or herbs, as needed. Be generous with the seasoning.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Spoon stuffing mixture into pumpkin shells

Place the pumpkin halves on a rimmed baking sheet. Partially fill them with stuffing mixture, pressing it down. Lay skinny strips of carrot and piquillo peppers on top. Cover with remaining stuffing mixture.

Place remaining bread cubes in a small bowl. Moisten them with 2 tablespoons of stock. Toss them with 2 tablespoons oil. Press the cubes into the tops of the pumpkin halves. Sprinkle tops with pimentón.

Bake the stuffed pumpkin until the stuffing is set, 1 hour. If the top hasn’t browned, turn up the oven temperature and allow the topping to brown.

To serve, place the stuffed pumpkin halves on one or two platters. Garnish with (sautéed) pumpkin balls and arugula leaves. Serve hot or room temperature. Accompany with gravy or sauce.

Pumpkin balls scooped from the shell can be sautéed in oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice and used to garnish the platter of the finished dish. Or, serve them as a salad.




My big pumpkin--stuffed, it makes a main course for 8 persons.


Vegetarian Stock
Caldo Vegetariano


With no meat, poultry or bones for flavor, the stock needs double the quantity of aromatic vegetables and herbs. Roasting some of the vegetables first intensifies their color and flavor. Seaweed such as kombu adds a umami punch to the basic stock. (I used the cooked kombu blended with olives, garlic and olive oil to make a tapenade-type dip.)Use minimal salt in the stock, as the liquid will reduce considerably. More salt can be added when using the stock for gravy or sauces.

2 onions
5 plum tomatoes
½ pound mushrooms
Olive oil
Sherry, white or red wine (optional)
12 cups water
2 tablespoons vinegar
½ ounce kombu (seaweed)
2 stalks celery, quartered
4 carrots, quartered
2 leeks, quartered
1 turnip, quartered
½ lemon
2 bay leaves
3 cloves
10 peppercorns
Bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, etc.)
Salt


Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Place the onions, tomatoes and mushrooms on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with oil. Roast the vegetables, turning them occasionally, until they are well-browned, about 45 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and place them in a large soup pot along with any drippings in the baking sheet. (If desired, use a little Sherry or wine to deglaze the baking sheet.) Add the water to the soup pot with vinegar, kombu, celery, carrots, leeks, turnip, lemon, bay, cloves, pepper and bouquet garni. Add 2 teaspoons of salt.

Bring the water to a boil. Skim off any froth that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover the pot and simmer 45 minutes. Uncover the pot and cook the stock 30 minutes more.

Strain the stock, pressing hard on the solids to extract all the juices. Discard the kombu,
 vegetables, lemon, herbs and spices.

Allow the stock to cool, then refrigerate (or freeze) until needed.



More festive vegetarian recipes:
Upside-Down Cake with Rice and Mushrooms.
Millet and Carrot Pilaf. 
Chard and Cheese Pie.
Brown Rice Paella with Vegetables.
Fideo Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables.



Saturday, November 23, 2019

TURKEY: YOU SAY, ROAST; I SAY, STEW

I won’t be roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving this year. For the upcoming holiday I´m making a main dish for guests who include one vegetarian and another who is gluten- and dairy-intolerant. 


I’ve got nothing against turkey! In fact, I eat lots of it, year-round. But, I like my turkey in parts—boneless breast, marinated in adobo, roasted and thinly sliced for “lunchmeat” and salads; drumsticks simmered until the meat is falling off the bones, to shred for enchiladas; thighs cut into cutlets, for breading like veal piccata.

This week I’m using turkey thigh meat cut in chunks to make an Andalusian stew. The traditional recipe, with typical spicing of saffron, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and cumin, is made with veal or beef. All I’ve done is substitute turkey—and cut the cooking time in half.

A savory stew with Andalusian spices. This version is made with turkey.

Potatoes, carrots and squash cook with the meat.



Serve the stew with bread for dunking in the gravy.


Andalusian Stew with Turkey
Estofado Andaluz con Pavo

Often this stew is made by simply combining all the ingredients—including the olive oil—in a stew pot and simmering them until done. Another version calls for the onions and meat to sofreir—fry—before adding the other ingredients and cooking liquid. 

The potatoes can be stewed with the meat or cut as for fries, fried separately and added to the stew at the end of cooking. Seasonal vegetables can be incorporated in the basic stew. I’ve used squash. Artichokes, green beans, peas, fava beans are also typical. 

Seasonal vegetables go into this stew.

In Andalusian home cooking, of which this stew is typical, the wine used in cooking would be the local village wine, usually a vino generoso, a medium-dry, slightly oxidized white wine. Sherry is the best substitute, but a not-too-acidic white wine can be used instead. 

If you like, thicken the sauce/gravy of the stew with a little flour mixed in water or stale bread mashed to a paste. In any case, serve the stew with bread for dunking in the savory gravy.

Serves 4-6.

Turkey thighs cut into chunks for stewing.

2 pounds boneless turkey, such as thighs
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1 green bell pepper, cut in strips
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut in eighths
2 carrots, cut in thick slices crosswise
½ cup medium Sherry or white wine
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
½ teaspoon saffron threads
10 peppercorns
2 cloves
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup water
1 head garlic, charred
1 bay leaf
2-inch cinnamon stick
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
12 ounces pumpkin or squash, cut in chunks
Chopped parsley, to garnish

Cut the turkey into chunks of about 2 inches. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a cazuela or heavy stew pot. Add the sliced onions and let them brown slowly, 8 minutes. Add the pieces of turkey and sauté a few minutes. Add the strips of pepper, tomatoes and carrots. Add the Sherry and cook on high heat until the alcohol cooks off. Stir in the turkey stock.

Char-roast head of garlic.

To char-roast a head of garlic: Spear the whole head of garlic on a fork and hold it over a gas flame (protect hands) or place it under broiler. Roast, turning, until the outer skin of the garlic is blackened and charred. Peel the individual cloves. They will be only slightly softened. Either add them whole to the stew or crush the garlics to a paste in a mortar.


 In a mortar crush the saffron with the peppercorns, cloves and cumin. If desired, crush the charred and peeled cloves of garlic too. Stir in the water. Add the spices to the stew. Add peeled garlic cloves if they were not crushed with the spices plus the bay leaf, cinnamon and cut-up potatoes. Cook, covered, 20 minutes.

Add the pieces of squash to the pot. Cook until turkey, potatoes and squash are tender, 20 minutes more.

Serve the stew garnished with chopped parsley.

More recipes with turkey:
Turkey Breast Roulade with Spinach-Walnut Stuffing.
Turkey Meatballs in Gazpachuelo Soup.
Marinated Turkey Breast.
Turkey and Watermelon Salad.

Another Andalusian stew:
Andalusian Style Braised Tongue.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

ART INSPIRES DINNER

On November 19 the Museo Nacional del Prado, Spain’s national art museum, marks its bicentennial. It’s been a year-long series of events and special exhibitions to celebrate the occasion. 


The commemoration of the Prado and some of its masterpieces (Goya, El Greco, Velázquez, Hieronymus Bosch, Sorolla---) inspired at least one chef to create a special dinner menu featuring dishes inspired by the paintings. José Luque, executive chef at the Westin Palace Hotel, Madrid, served the special menu at the Restaurante La Rotonda at the Palace during several months.

According to notes on the menu, the dishes were imagined as creating a dialogue between the art of painting and the culinary arts, translating the emotion and beauty of the selection of masterpieces into flavor, aroma, texture and color on the plates.

Here’s the menu by Chef José Luque and its links to the paintings from the Prado.

Sorolla's "Boys on the Beach." (Museo Nacional del Prado

Mediterranean red shrimp carpaccio, as created by Chef José Luque of the Westin Palace, Madrid.

Aperitif: Sparkling sangría with aromatic flavors from the vineyard. (The Drunkards or The Feast of Bacchus by Velázquez.)

Starter: Mediterranean red shrimp carpaccio, seaweed, coastal citrus with extra virgin olive oil emulsion. (Boys on the Beach by Sorolla.)

Fish course: Sea bass fillet, pil pil sauce, on a bed of potato. (The Naked Maja, by Goya.)

Main course: Gola, moussaka, ouzo (beef moussaka in a pastry crust). (The Nobleman with His Hand on His Chest, by El Greco.)

Pre-dessert: Sugar and cocoa “cotton floss.” (Agnus Dei, by Zurburán.)

Dessert: Chocolate textures, fruit, flowers, crunchy rocks. (The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Bosch.)

The Naked Maja, by Goya. (Museo Nacional del Prado.)

The naked sea bass, dish created by Chef José Luque.

"The inspiration for this recipe arose from the contemplation of the luminosity and sensuality of the body of the naked woman portrayed in Francisco de Goya’s work. Chef José Luque has “undressed” a sea bass of its skin and placed it upon a bed of potato, bringing to mind the settee on which the master painter from Aragon represented his Naked Maja. A light, garlic, infused sauce completes the tribute to a masterpiece which allowed Goya to deal with the traditional image of a reclining Venus in a modern way." (Menu notes special menu commemorating the Prado Museum bicentennial, Westin Palace, Madrid.)


I love it! The naked Maja as fish! I had to give it a try.

The Naked Sea Bass
La Lubina Desnuda

This is my interpretation of the dish created by Chef José Luque. (I did not have his recipe.) I placed the fish on a bed of spinach, which reminded me of the green velvet divan in the original painting. I couldn't figure out what the chef used for the maja's hair. I used strands of seaweed. 

Serves 4.

4 (6-ounce) skinless sea bass fillets
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 medium potatoes
Spinach leaves (optional)
½ cup pil pil sauce, warmed
Seaweed spaghetti, rehydrated by soaking for 15 minutes 

Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper and allow to come to room temperature.

Cook potatoes in boiling, salted water until tender. Peel them, cut in thick slices, brush with olive oil and keep warm.

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Place ¼ cup oil in a baking pan large enough to hold the fillets in one layer. Heat the pan in the oven for 3 minutes. Lay the fish fillets in the oil and roast them until the flesh just flakes, about 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep the fish warm.

If using spinach, blanch the whole leaves by dipping them in boiling water. Drain well and spread the leaves on plates.

Place slices of potato on the plates. Nap them with pil pil sauce. Arrange sea bass fillets sensuously on the potato “cushions”. Spoon a little sauce over the fish. Garnish with strands of seaweed spaghetti. If desired, scatter some of reserved fried garlic from the pil pil sauce on top of the fish.

My rendition of the sea bass fillet with pil pil sauce.


Pil Pil Garlic Sauce
Salsa Pil Pil

I’ve made cod with pil pil sauce many times. It entails swirling warm oil into the gelatinous juices from the cod skin.  But this time, perhaps because it was such a small quantity, the sauce did not emulsify. Consulting “Chef Google,” I discovered the truco of whisking the sauce with a small strainer. Yes, as in “tea strainer”. It works.

8 ounces salt cod with skin, cut into 4 pieces and desalted
4 cloves garlic, sliced crosswise
Chile
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Remove cod from the water in which it soaked. Rinse the cod and very gently squeeze out excess water.

Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the sliced garlic and chile and fry until garlic is just golden, 30 seconds. Skim out the garlic and chile and reserve them. Carefully pour the oil in the pan into a heat-proof measuring cup. 

Return ¼ cup of the oil to the skillet. Place the pieces of cod in the oil, skin side down and cook 2 minutes, shaking the pan so the skin doesn't stick. Very carefully turn the pieces of cod, skin side up. Cook 3 minutes more. Remove the pieces of cod from the pan. (If the sauce is to be used with the sea bass, save the cod for another use.)

Place the pan over a very low heat. Use a small strainer to very gradually whisk in the remaining warm oil. Continue whisking with the strainer until the oil emulsifies and the sauce is as thick as mayonnaise. 

Serve the sauce spooned over fish or vegetables. Sprinkle with the fried garlic.


Recipes with seaweed.

The real pil pil recipe: Salt Cod with Garlic Pil Pil Sauce.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

SHEET PAN " AL AJILLO"

I get it—sheet pan cooking is easy. No wonder so many variations on this cooking method appear in the food media—from chicken to meat to vegetables to fish and in various combinations. Because the foods are spread in a single layer, they cook relatively rapidly. And, because several foods can be cooked on the same pan, it saves clean-up of many cooking utensils.


Sheet pan cooking is not so different from what in Spain is called cooking “en lata” (a lata is a baker’s rimmed oven pan) or “en rustidera” (a large shallow roasting pan). The pan needs to have a rim high enough (minimum 1 inch) to contain the main ingredients and any liquids. I found the broiler pan that came with my electric oven to be perfect.

Pieces of rabbit and chunks of potatoes and eggplant roast in a sheet pan with olive oil, whole cloves of garlic and Sherry.

I’ve adapted the sheet-pan technique to an old tapa bar favorite, food cooked al ajillo, with just a “little” garlic (meaning lots of garlic).  The cooking medium—olive oil—becomes the sauce, flavored with garlic and Sherry, plus a scattering of herbs. It’s often served with patatas fritas—fries—as well as bread for sopping up the juices. Here, the potatoes roast with the meat. I added chunks of eggplant to the rendition with rabbit. It soaked up the flavorful oil beautifully.


After roasting, heap the rabbit, potatoes and eggplant on a platter and spoon some of the flavorful juices over all.

A meal in one pan--just add salad. Serve Sherry with the meal--here a medium amontillado. (It's still International Sherry Week!)



Rabbit roasted in oil is tender and succulent.


Sheet Pan Rabbit with Garlic and Eggplant
Conejo al Ajillo en Lata

Serves 2-3.

1 ¼ pounds rabbit, cut in serving pieces (½  rabbit)
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Sprigs of rosemary or thyme
Chopped parsley
6 cloves garlic, 1 clove chopped, 5 cloves whole
½ cup olive oil
1 medium eggplant (about 14 ounces)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 medium potatoes (about 10 ounces)
¼ cup medium Sherry (such as amontillado or oloroso seco)
Alioli of roasted garlic, to serve (recipe follows)

Sprinkle the rabbit pieces with salt, pepper, sprigs of rosemary or thyme, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and 1 clove chopped garlic. Allow to stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Rabbit pieces first macerate with herbs and chopped garlic. Whole cloves of garlic roast with the meat and vegetables.

Add ½ of the oil to a sheet pan. Spread the pieces of rabbit in a single layer in the pan.

Cut the eggplant in 1-inch cubes. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Spread them in the pan with the rabbit.

Peel potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon oil. Add to the sheet pan.

Lightly crush garlic cloves.
Use the flat side of a knife to lightly crush the remaining 5 cloves of garlic. Scatter over the rabbit.

Pour Sherry over the rabbit and vegetables. Add all of the remaining oil to the pan. Place a few sprigs of rosemary or thyme on top.

Roast the rabbit 15 minutes. Turn the pieces of rabbit and, if possible, the potatoes and eggplant too. Roast 15 minutes longer, until rabbit and potatoes are done.

Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and accompanied by alioli of roasted garlic.

Chunks of potatoes get crisp, eggplant turns soft and soaks up the oil.


Sheet Pan Chicken with Garlic
Pollo al Ajillo en Lata

I prefer drumettes, the thick wing joints, for this recipe.

Serves 4 as a main course.

2 pounds chicken wing joints
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon smoked pimentón (paprika)
Sprigs of fresh thyme
8 cloves garlic (2 chopped, 6 whole)
¾ cup olive oil
1 pound frying potatoes
8 ounces portobello mushrooms
Red chile (optional)
½ cup medium Sherry (such as amontillado or oloroso seco)
Chopped parsley
Alioli with roasted garlic (see recipe), as an accompaniment

Place wings in a bowl and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, pimentón, thyme and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Allow to stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a rimmed sheet pan. Spread the wings in the pan in a single layer.

Peel the potatoes and cut them in strips as for fries. Toss them in a bowl with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of oil. Spread the potatoes on the pan with the chicken.

Clean the mushrooms and cut them in quarters. Toss them in a bowl with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the mushrooms to the sheet pan. Cut the chile, if using, in pieces and add to the pan.

Wings, potatoes and mushrooms, ready to roast.
Lightly crush the whole garlic cloves, using the flat side of a knife. Leave the skins on them. Scatter the garlic among the chicken pieces and potatoes. Scatter sprigs of thyme over the wings and vegetables.  Pour all the remaining oil over the wings and vegetables.

Roast the wings 15 minutes. Carefully turn the wings, potatoes and mushrooms. Add the Sherry and return to the oven until chicken and potatoes are done, 15 minutes.

If desired, place the sheet pan under the broiler for 5 minutes to brown the tops of the wings.

Serve sprinkled with parsley and accompanied by alioli with roasted garlic. 




Alioli of Roasted Garlic
Alioli con Ajos Asados

Alioli sauce is made with mayonnaise from a jar and roasted garlic.

Use the cloves of garlic that roasted with the chicken wings or rabbit to make this sauce. If desired, the excess flavorful oil from the sheet pan can be incorporated in the sauce too. Serve the sauce with the wings, rabbit or with any meat or vegetables.

5-10 cloves of roasted garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup mayonnaise from a jar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt, to taste

Crush garlic with a fork.
Discard garlic skins. Place the garlic in a small bowl and mash them with a fork. Stir in the olive oil. Whisk in the mayonnaise, lemon juice and parsley until the sauce is fairly smooth. Add salt to taste. 

Sauce keeps, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days.







More sheet pan recipes:

More al ajillo recipes:

Saturday, November 2, 2019

A WEEK TO CELEBRATE SHERRY

In case you were looking for a theme for a party, here’s a good one—International Sherry Week, November 4-10. This fabulous wine that is made exclusively in Andalusia, Spain, comes in so many styles that you could try a different one every day of the week. Check out the web site Sherry Week to find tasting events near you or download the easy guide to food-matching with Sherry that will give you ideas of how best to serve this versatile wine. 


Serve Sherry with tapas.

Yes, serve Sherry with tapas. It’s the original tapas wine. But, you can also serve Sherry right through a meal, starting with a fino with aperitifs, amontillado with the bisque, oloroso seco with stuffed turkey and cream Sherry with the pumpkin pie.

By the way, you can use any type of wine glass to serve Sherry. I used to be a purist and even carried my own Sherry glasses when I travelled to the U.S. on book tours, where the type of glass was unknown. Called a catavino, it is a slim glass with a narrow top, the better for inhaling the wine’s aroma. But styles have moved on. If I’m serving Sherry with a meal, I like a medium-sized white wine copa.

Besides being the wine that goes with everything, Sherry is superb in cooking, from soup to sweet. Don’t look for “cooking sherry.” There’s no such thing. Real Sherry is real Sherry, with denominación de origen Jerez-Xeres-Sherry. Most Sherry is very reasonably priced, meaning it’s affordable enough to use in the sauce as well as to drink.

I delved into my cookbook collection, looking for some new ideas for cooking with Sherry. I rediscovered El Vino de Jerez en la Cocina Universal (Sherry Wine in International Cuisine) by Lalo Grosso de MacPherson (Espasa-Calpe; Madrid, 1982). Lalo Grosso, who grew up in Cádiz, daughter of a shipping magnate, learned to cook from the family cook and on travels with her father. After marriage (she had six children) Lalo set up a pioneer catering business in 1971, producing exquisite spreads for weddings, baptisms and banquets. With the sponsorship of the Academia Española de Gastronomía and the Cofradía de la Buena Mesa, Lalo wrote her first cookbook about Sherry. She became an indefatigable promotor of Sherry and of Spanish gastronomy abroad. (María del Rosario Grosso (Lalo) was born November 7, 1932, so Happy Birthday, Lalo.)

All of the more than 300 recipes in the book incorporate Sherry in one form or another (including vinagre de vino de Jerez—Sherry vinegar). Encompassing both Spanish and international dishes, they range from Shrimp Toast (oloroso seco); Béarnaise Sauce (fino + Sherry vinegar); Truffled Consommé (oloroso), dedicated to former king, Don Juan Carlos, who once dined in her home; Steak and Kidney Pie (oloroso seco); Lasagna (with pork loin, chorizo, mushrooms and fino); Broccoli (with fino, cream and almonds); Truffled Turkey (oloroso seco); Partridge (a whole bottle of manzanilla de Sanlúcar); Pears in Wine (fino + oloroso), and Apple Tart (sweet Sherry).

I chose a recipe from the book for Rape al Jerez, Monkfish with Sherry. Chunks of fish cook in a simple sauce made complex with the addition of Sherry and brandy.

Chunks of monkfish and shrimp cook in a sauce redolent of dry Sherry with a touch of brandy.


Serve Sherry with the meal, not just with tapas.



Monkfish with Sherry Sauce
Rape al Jerez

(Recipe adapted from El Vino de Jerez en la Cocina Universal, by Lalo Grosso de MacPherson.)


Both brandy and Sherry.

The mellow, winey flavor of this sauce is enhanced with the addition of brandy as well as Sherry. If available, use Brandy de Jerez. 

Monkfish (also known as angler fish) is a fine choice, as it’s very meaty and doesn’t disintegrate in cooking in the sauce. The fillets are cut into chunks, whose shape made me think that scallops would be a delicious substitute in this recipe.


Monkfish separates into fillets.
You will need a thick tomato puree—not concentrate—for this recipe. Use canned sauce or try the recipe that follows, spiked with additional Sherry.


Serves 4.

4 monkfish fillets, 6-8 ounces each
Salt and pepper
Flour for dredging
Olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup thick tomato sauce (recipe follows)
¼ cup brandy
½ cup fino (dry) Sherry
½ cup water or fish stock
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces peeled shrimp
1 red pimiento (canned), cut in thin strips
Hard-cooked egg, sliced
Black olives, to garnish
Chopped parsley


Cut the fish into 1 ½-inch chunks. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper and allow to come to room temperature.

Fry fish before cooking in sauce.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet. Dredge the pieces of fish in flour, pat off excess and fry them in the oil, turning to lightly brown all sides. The fish does not have to cook through as it will finish cooking in the sauce. Remove the fish and reserve it.

Strain the oil into another pan or cazuela, adding enough additional oil to make 3 tablespoons. Sauté the onions and garlic on moderate heat 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and cook 2 minutes. Add the brandy and cook 3 minutes. Add the Sherry and water or fish stock. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add the fried pieces of fish. Cook the fish in the sauce, turning it once, 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp and strips of pimiento to the sauce. Cook until shrimp begin to curl and turn pink, 3 minutes.

Serve the fish and sauce in individual cazuelitas garnished with sliced egg, olives and chopped parsley.


Drink Sherry all through a meal. With the monkfish, a fino.

Tomato Sauce with Sherry
Salsa de Tomate al Jerez

You will not need all of the sauce for the Monkfish with Sherry recipe. Store the sauce, covered tightly, in the fridge. Use it on pasta or pizza, on fish, chicken or meat, with vegetables. Vary the sauce by adding additional herbs to taste.

Makes 1 cup sauce.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon smoked pimentón (paprika)
1 ½ pounds tomatoes, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
3 tablespoons Sherry, dry or medium
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

Heat the oil in a heavy pot. Sauté the onions and garlic until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the pimentón and immediately add the chopped tomatoes. Add the Sherry. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to moderate. Season with salt, pepper and bay.

Sauce starts as a sofrito with onions, garlic and tomatoes plus Sherry. After cooking, puree it in a blender.

Cook the sauce, uncovered, until it is very thick, about 45 minutes. Let it cool slightly, then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. If desired, the sauce can be sieved as well.




If you want to know more about the types of Sherry and how they are made, see this previous blog post, Celebrate Sherry.

More recipes using Sherry:

More recipes with monkfish: