Saturday, December 21, 2002

I thought I'd post a few Catalan recipes for readers to try, just in case you want to try something different or cook something nice for Christmas. The recipe for stock is mine (remember, I'm a vegetarian), and the other three are from Catalan TV's cooking show collection of recipes. They're recipes presented by chefs from reputable restaurants on TV every afternoon after the news.


For each liter / quart of water, slice up and put in:

1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, 1 onion, 1 leek, 1 white radish if you can find them, 2 cloves garlic.

Add: Salt, pepper, 1 bay leaf, thyme, olive oil, plenty (reduce amount if you add meat), vinegar, red or white wine, if you want (then don't use vinegar).

Add, if you're a carnivore, bones or pieces of whatever kind of meat you want. If you want to make one of the chicken recipes that calls for broth, for example, you might add any meat bone like steak or pork roast, and also whatever chicken parts you can spare. A few wings bought separately can add a lot to chicken broth, for example. Try putting in a slice of bacon or hunk of sausage. You can fish out anything you think is gross like chicken skin or whatever. Anyway, cook the whole big pot with however much stuff you've put in over low heat for a few hours until it has reduced in volume to about one-half. Bingo, you have stock, whether only vegetable or with meat added. If you're persnickety and want clear stock with no little chunks in it, then just strain it after it's been cooking for a couple or three hours and throw away the solid stuff WHILE SAVING THE LIQUID BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT TO KEEP AND USE LATER, DUMMY. Sorry. Just wanted to make that clear. Anyway, you can use this stock to make any dish tastier (just use instead of water, or half-and-half with water) or as a basis for soup.

Three Chicken Recipes: Use free-range chickens if possible. Cut up one chicken into however many pieces you want; Spaniards usually cut a chicken into 10 or 12 parts rather than the American standard eight. Salt and pepper the (clean) pieces of chicken and put them in a large ceramic cooking dish, or whatever you have that's large enough to hold a chicken and can go on top of the stove. Those square electric cookers / frying pans that plug into the wall in America are excellent. They don't have them over here, I don't know why, because they're really very useful. Anyway, you put a little olive oil in the dish and then lightly brown the chicken. Medium heat should do. Give it a good few minutes but don't worry about the chicken being fully cooked, because we're going to cook it some more.

Chicken with Wild Mushrooms:

Do as above with the chicken. When it's lightly browned, add two cloves of garlic, one cut-up onion, and one fresh cut-up peeled and de-seeded tomato to the cooking dish with the chicken inside. Let it cook a few minutes and add 1/2 cup of wine and 1/2 pound or so of mushrooms, wild ones if you can get them. Don't substitute canned. Let it cook ten minutes more and serve.

Chicken with Artichokes and Rice:

Do as above with the chicken. When it's lightly browned, add one cut-up tomato and a little paprika (the recipe doesn't say this but half a red bell pepper or a whole banana pepper, deseeded and cut into small pieces, might be good if you stuck it in with the chicken). Add two liters of stock or stock-and-water. The more stock, the better. Let it boil gently 20 minutes. Add 1/2 pound of fresh green peas and four cut-up-into-small-pieces artichokes, with the stems and ALL the outer leaves removed. If it's dark green, peel it off. I mean be drastic. Peel off the whole outer half and then peel some more. Don't worry about the fuzz, it's perfectly edible. Let it cook a few minutes more and add four handfuls of rice, 1/2 pound in total or so. Cover the pot. Let it cook over lowish heat for about 12 minutes, you may have to cook it a bit longer, I don't know. You may need to add a little more water. Let it sit a few minutes, then serve.

Chicken with Fruit:

Do as above with the chicken. When it's lightly browned, add a couple of bay leaves, some rosemary, a shot of brandy, and (the recipe says) a whole head of garlic. I might be tempted to cut that back. When the brandy has cooked down, add 1 (5 oz.) glass white wine and let it cook ten more minutes over low heat.

Meanwhile, in another pan, brown (in olive oil), first one sliced onion. When light brown, add five peeled and sliced tomatoes. After a couple of minutes, add three peeled and sliced apples, three peeled and sliced pears, and two small sliced eggplants. add salt and pepper and when it's all golden-brown add it to the cooking dish with the chicken. Let it sit over very low heat for 15 minutes so that the flavors will mix and then serve.

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