This blog is a way of keeping an account of all sorts of facets of our year in Spain, and a big facet is food (and drink!)
Occasionally, we will post a recipe, and this is one of those moments. Now, I am not one for following many recipes, and I rarely measure anything - I don’t think my Mum ever used a set of scales in her life. One of the reasons for coming to Spain (there are many!) is so that we can both cook using delicious local ingredients, and become inspired to be intuitive cooks.
Last night’s dinner was pretty tasty, even if I do say so myself, and I had a fancy for cooking something with Aubergine (berenjena, in Spanish, in case you ever need to use the word).
It was a Sunday, and not many shops are open in the villages on a Sunday, but the little supermarket in the church square in neighbouring village, Pinos del Valle, was. More importantly, it had a supply of aubergines. The day before, I had done a trip to another of our local supermarkets, in Melegís, where I discovered some beautiful pork fillet (lomo de cerdo) and the butcher sliced enough for 4 people….
So, armed with aubergines, potatoes and pork, I had the ingredients for something yummy.
Both of these dishes are easy! No measurements necessary.
- Thinly slice 3 medium-sized potatoes (peeled!), two medium/large tomatoes and one medium-sized aubergine. I lay the aubergine slices on a plate, sale them lightly, cover in kitchen roll and then place a weight on top as this helps to release any excess liquid prior to cooking.
- In a frying pan, I gently softened half an onion (thinly sliced) and the added the aubergine slices to soften them gently - only for a few minutes.
- In an open oven dish, lay half the potato slices on the bottom of the dish, then lay on the slices of aubergine. Add the onion and then layer on the sliced tomatoes. Finally, top with the rest of the potato slices.
- On to this, I poured a small amount of chicken stock. I use a good old stock cube and about half a pint of boiling water to dissolve the cube. I used half of this liquid for this dish and kept what was left to one side.
- Make a béchamel sauce. Again, no measurements, and it’s easy. Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan. My Mum used to say 1 ounce was the size of a walnut, so there’s your measurement!
- When the butter has melted, add one and half (ish) dessert spoons of flour and stir this vigorously with a wooden spoon until you are left with a buttery/floury stodge in the bottom of the pan.
- Add milk, a small amount at a time, and carefully blend the milk with the stodge until the milk is absorbed and the mix becomes gradually more loose. Keep adding milk, a little at a time, blending it in with the wooden spoon until it is amalgamated and until you reach the required thickness. Do this over the hotplate so the sauce continues to cook; don't leave it as it will burn and all we be ruined. I would say the consistency needs to be a bit like thick porridge. If you can’t imagine what that is like, I am not sure what to suggest; thick enough so that it drops off the spoon as opposed to the consistency of polyfilla.
- Then added some grated cheese - about a handful. Taste it and see if you like it; taste everything! Cook's perk.
- Spoon this sauce on top of the vegetables in the dish, trying to spread it to cover the top. Add some more grated cheese.
I popped this into a low oven (around 150/160 degrees) while we went for a walk. We came back an hour and half later and it was done to perfection. The cheese on top will have browned and the vegetables will have softened.
Pork with sherry and cream.
To accompany the vegetable bake, I used the delicious pork.
- In a frying pan, I gently fried some finely chopped garlic (1 clove) and a few slices of red pepper in a little olive oil. After a few minutes, I removed this from the pan and then added to pork slices, seasoning these with some sale and pepper. These thin slices do not need much cooking; if you do, the meat gets tough.
- Fry them on a medium to high heat until each side changes colour slightly to a golden brown; probably around 3 minutes each side. Don’t over fill the pan as the meat will never brown! Do 4 or 5 small slices at a time then remove and set aside.
- Once the meat is cooked (test it by cutting into a piece and making sure it is not still oinking) set aside on a warmed serving dish and then make a sauce.
- Put the red pepper and onion back in the pan, slosh in some sherry (no measurements, but a sherry-glass-full should do), and then added some of the left over chicken stock (see above).
- Reduce this a little; that means let it boil until some of the liquid evaporates and you moderate the harsher alcoholic flavour!
- Add a knob of butter (walnut-sized) and let it melt then taste. It should be pretty tasty, but quite intense and a dash of cream just balances this out nicely. Literally a dash of cream, rather than half a pint.
- Make sure it is all heated through then pour over the pork. Serve straight away.
We had the leftovers heated up for lunch, with crusty bread, and it was equally delicious.