Potaje de lentejas con chorizo y morcilla
Lentils with chorizo and black pudding
A one-pot stew for a cold day, relatively quick to prepare since lentils are the only pulses which don’t need soaking. The enrichment and flavouring are whatever comes to hand – a length of ham bone, chorizo, and a link of black pudding. The family version when we lived in Spain was prepared with our own home-made marjoram-flavoured chorizos, a product of the yearly pig-matanza, a somewhat traumatic event in which all our neighbours assisted. For a more sophisticated contrast of flavour and texture, holdback a few slices of chorizo and morcilla to crisp with a handful of croûtons.
250g (8oz) green lentils
1 whole head garlic
Short length Serrano ham bone or 1 tablespoon chopped serrano scraps
1-2 links, about 125-225g (4-8oz), soft chorizo
1-2 links, about 125-225g (4-8oz), morcilla (black pudding)
1 onion, chopped
2-3 sticks green celery, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1 dried mild red pepper (preferably ñora),
de-seeded and torn
½ teaspoon crushed peppercorns
½ teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1 large potato (about 450g/1lb), peeled and diced
2 handfuls shredded cabbage, kale, chard or tagarninas (thistle rosettes, gathered from the wild in spring)
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
Pick over the lentils and remove any tiny stones. Singe the garlic head, holding it in the gas flame or popping it on the electric ring to char the papery covering. Put all the ingredients in a large pot with 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) water, bring to the boil , turn down the heat, put the lid on loosely and leave to bubble gently for 30 minutes.
Add the potato, bring back to the boil, turn down to a simmer and leave for another 20 minutes. Lentils need about 40 minutes’ cooking in all, after which they should be quite soft – if they’re old, they take a little longer. Top up with boiling water if necessary. When the lentils and potatoes are perfectly tender and floury, stir in the shredded greens, add the olive oil, bubble up again and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and season.
Serve in deep soup plates, with bread for mopping or (even better) with a scattering of crisp migas – cubes of stale bread – fried in manteca colorado, a deliciously creamy pork lard, coloured and flavoured with pimentón.
Picada de pez de tierra
Aubergine purée enriched with oil and garlic, fast-day food for the meatless days of the Roman Catholic calendar, eaten with bread. The aubergine – pez de tierra, earth-fish – was the rural household’s replacement for the expensive imported salt cod – pez de monte, mountain fish- which was the fasting-food of choice for the landlord and the prosperous citizens of the towns. The aubergine, a member of the deadly nightshade family indigenous to the region, is valued as a meat substitute, doubly prized because it can be dried for storage.
2 large, firm aubergines or 225g (8oz) dried aubergines
6 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, skinned and roughly chopped
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed.
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (La Vera Pimenton)
Hull the aubergines and cut them into chunks – don’t bother with salting and rinsing
Heat the oil in a roomy frying pan. Add the garlic and cook it for a minute or two. Add the aubergines and the crushed coriander and salt lightly. Fry, turning as each side cooks, until perfectly soft – about 10 minutes on a medium heat. Pour the contents of the pan into the food processor and reduce it all to a speckled purée,
Or use a pestle and mortar. Pile in a bowl and finish with a sprinkling of paprika.
Serve at room temperature with bread for dipping.
Extract recipes taken from Food of Spain & Portugal by Elisabeth Luard, published by Kyle Cathie Ltd, ISBN 978-1-85626-712-0.