Scraps on Saturdays as translated from Spanish is perhaps not the most adequate description in the first phrase of this masterpiece of Castilian literature, the Don Quijote de la Mancha!
There is a profound significance behind the original name of this dish: ‘Duelos y Quebrantos’, meaning Breaking and Grief. When Cervantes wrote his great classic novel it had been a little over hundred years since Spanish Inquisition had been introduced and all Jews either expelled or converted. For these ‘new Christians’ (converted Jews and Muslims) breaking their laws eating lard and pork ham was causing grief. Definitely haram and not very kosher either!
”In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income.”
Writing a blog on food and literature and being Spanish does not leave one any other way than starting with ‘el Quijote’
At present times, with so many books out there on personal development, leadership and management, one could save quite some money reading this book instead of buying all that crap! Goals of these books are obviously not personal development, but a positive development of the bank accounts of its authors!
Look at what Nobel price winner Mario Vargas Llosa says about this work of art:
”an immensely entertaining story defining human condition which, as well as Don Quijote, needs to change reality to be similar to its own dreams.”
Two recipes to follow: the traditional one as found in the tabernas and restaurants of the Spanish La Mancha region and a more sophisticated version with some added ingredientes.
¡You choose: comfort food or new school!
Duelos y Quebrantos
This is basically a fry up: an Iberian fry up! In ancient times all well off citizens used to have their stocking of cured meats and hams from the pig(s) they slaughtered by the month of November to take them through the winter. Frying up these cured meats, sometimes even lamb brain, and adding some eggs was a calorie loaded meal that nourished them for the harsh labour on the fields.
Fresh eggs 2 for each
Virgen olive oil a couple of tablespoons
Cured pork belly 50 gr. a person
Fresh chorizos 50 gr. a person
Dicen serrano ham 30 gr. a person
Fresh black pepper
Chopped parsley for decoration
How to make:
1. Heat up the olive oil in a frying pan. add the chorizo cut into small pieces.
2. Add the pork belly, equally cut into pieces, let fry at a moderate temperature. 3. Just before scrambling the eggs add the diced ham, don’t overcook: the ham gets salty easily.
4. Add the eggs without beating beforehand (this is a simple peasant dish) and scramble them up with a wooden spoon, leaving them moist and creamy. Add a little freshly ground pepper, no salt, as the cured meats have plenty.
5. Place in a rustic dish with some chopped parsley.
SERVE WITH SOME NICE CRUSTY BREAD!
Duelos y Quebrantos New Style
Here I let my imagination flow to have a more modern, colorful and surprising recipe. Preparations are definitely more complex, the result is lighter, adding elements not present in the original dish. Quantities indicated to serve 6.
Ham and porcini stock
Bring 2 liters of water to a boil adding an Iberian pig ham bone (100 gr) and some 10 gr. of dried funghi porcini. Let simmer for about 6 hours. Cool down overnight in the fridge, removing all the grease on the surface the next day. Then reduce to half its size, obtaining a very dark and aromatic stock. Should give about half a liter.
Creamy lamb brain velouté (don’t tell your guests: this is your secret ingredient!)
Simmer 2 lamb brains in enough salty water for about 20 minutes. Take them out of the water, dry with a cloth and pass through a sieve using the back side of a tablespoon. Add a little fresh cream (couple of spoons) and season with salt, pepper, some nutmeg and some finely shredded parmesan cheese. Keep refrigerated for plating.
Chorizo oil and chorizo crunch.
Cut a fresh chorizo in fine slices. In a small pan add enough virgin olive oil to cover the chorizo and ‘cook’ them at moderate temperature, they should not be frying. Once done, take them out of the oil, let cool down on a piece of absorbent paper. When cold break them into small pieces by hand. Filter the oil and guard for the plating as well as the pieces of crunchy chorizo.
Put to a boil a small pan of water, have a bowl with ice cold water by the side. Add the parsley (2 bunches) leaves to the boiling water and take them out immediately to submerge in the ice water to conserve its green color. Drain very well. Either in a thermomix or with a bar mixer grind the parsley with extra virgen olive oil, some salt and freshly ground pepper and some lemon juice. Reserve for plating.
Green asparagus tips
Scald the green asparagus tips (3 or 4 a head) in abundant water with salt and a tablespoon of sugar during 2 or 3 minutes until al dente. if the asparagus are very thick, cut in half lengthwise. Let cool down in iced water, drain and reserve for plating.
Fried bread dices
Dice up some old bread (150 gr) in half centimeter dices. Fry in abundant olive oil until golden and crunchy. Drain on absorbent paper and reserve for the final plating.
1. First poach the eggs (1 a head): abundant water with salt and some vinegar in a wide pan. Heat up just under boiling point. Break each egg in a coffee cup (eggs should be very fresh with the whites surrounding the yolks) and let them slide into the near boiling water, do not do more then 2 or 3 at a time. Poach during 4 minutes monitoring the time, if overcooked the yokes will get to hard. Take them out of the water with a slotted spoon and dispose on some absorbent paper until plating. One could cut the sides a little to make them look more neat.
2. On the bottom of a small deep plate ( a large Martini glass could make a dramatic presentation as well) dispose a tablespoon of the velouté, put the poached egg on top and add the temperate ham and porcini stock on the sides.
3. Start adding the other ingredients: the asparagus tips, the diced fried bread and the crunchy pieces of chorizo.
4. Finally finish the dish with the chorizo and parsley oils.
FINALLY YOU WILL END UP WITH A DISH WHICH MIXES TEXTURES AND FLAVORS: UMAMI, SALTY, CRUNCHY, CREAMY AND CHORIZY TO REMEMBER THE ORIGINAL PLATE.