Explore the flavours of Spain with this menu
Madrid Fusion is an intense, innovative symposium that takes place every year in the Spanish capital. Iconic Spanish and international chefs – South American chefs were part of the mix this year – take the stage to discuss new trends while performing mind-blowing cooking demos. And gastro indulgence was everywhere. I ate fat, rich anchovies and mountains of Iberian and serrano ham.
One of the major topics I found most intriguing was making vegetables the focal point of dishes. (A small amount of protein is often included.) This is a new journey for Spanish chefs. Joan Roca, the chef-owner of El Celler can Joan Roca, the 2013 winner of the San Pellegrino best restaurant in the world award, talked about the benefits of having a botanist on staff to help curate products from the soil.
A meal at Coque, Mario Sandoval’s cutting-edge restaurant, produced the strangest dish I had during my four days at the conference: hare with blood gravy served on top of a small gun case with a bullet in it. Although the dish was interesting, the presentation was really over the top. Sandoval, who calls himself an archeologist of flavour, is researching heirloom produce hoping to bring back some of the tasty vegetables that have all but disappeared.
The following dishes will give you a hint of how flavourful Spanish food can be.
This smoky, fiery tapas is so popular in Madrid that many bars have their own version. They are usually deep-fried but I prefer to bake them for ease.
- Servings: 4 as tapas
1.5 lbs (750 g) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in a rough 1-inch dice
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped Spanish onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp or more hot smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 796 ml can tomatoes, puréed
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp minced garlic or more to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400 F
Toss potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and tender, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and sprinkle with extra salt. Reserve.
Heat oil in skillet over medium low heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until soft. Stir in paprika and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Add sugar and sherry vinegar and bring back to boil. Season well with salt to taste. Reserve.
Combine mayonnaise with garlic and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Place potatoes on serving plate and top with tomato bravas sauce. Streak with the aioli and sprinkle with parsley.
This is a traditional dish from the Aragon region of Spain. It can be made with cut-up, whole chicken and olives can be added at the end. Serve with rice, preferably from Spain. I buy roasted red peppers for the sauce.
- Servings: 4
3 tbsp olive oil
1 head garlic, cut in half, through the middle
1 lb (500 grams) chicken legs, on the bone, skin removed
1 lb (500 grams) chicken thighs, on the bone, skin removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
100 grams thinly sliced serrano ham, torn into small pieces
1 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 cup white wine
2 roasted red peppers, skinned and chopped (1 cup chopped)
2 lbs tomatoes, seeded and chopped or 2 cups canned tomatoes, drained and chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F
Heat oil in a casserole or deep skillet over low heat. Add the garlic cut-side down and cook slowly, covered for 10 minutes or until slightly softened. Reserve.
Increase heat to high. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken pieces and fry until golden about 2 minutes a side. Reserve. Discard all but 3 tbsp fat from pan. Reduce heat to medium.
Add onion and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add ham and paprika and cook one more minute. Pour in wine and bring to boil, reduce by half. Add peppers and tomatoes and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium low and return chicken to the skillet. Return garlic.
Cover and cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Remove cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until the sauce has slightly thickened and chicken is very tender. Season to taste.
Article: The Globe and Mail, Lucy Waverman, 1st April 2014 (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/food-trends/explore-the-flavours-of-spain-with-this-flavourful-menu/article17747265/)
Picture: Fernando Morales / The Globe and Mail