Christmas stew, cooked Mountains of Alicante style
The Valencian Christmas Stew is a very traditional dish, another variation of the ‘stews’ which are made in all regions as for example ‘l’escudella’ or ‘carn d’olla de Catalunya’, Andalucian stew, ‘cocido madrileño’, the typical stew from Madrid, the one from Murcia, etc. All of them contain pulses, meat, vegetables, and sometimes cured sausage, ingredients which vary according to the region where it’s made.
Valencian stew is characterized by the fact that it contains the vegetables typical of the area and also absolutely delicious meatballs. But we’re not going to waste any more time and go straight to the recipe.
Ingredients for 6-8 people
- Dried chickpeas, weighed before soaking and soaked simply in water, from the night before
- 1 pig’s trotter
- 1 pig’s ear
- 1 pig’s tail
- 100 gr of white unsalted bacon fat
- 1/4 kg piece of pork steak
- 1/ 4 kg piece of beef
- 1/2 rooster (if this isn’t possible, half a chicken, but the taste isn’t the same)
- Blanquets (typical Valencian sausage similar to white pudding)
- Half kilo of rice
- 1 bunch of parsley
- A pinch of saffron or artificial colouring
Ingredients for the meatballs
- 250 gr minced pork
- 50 gr lard
- 6 large spoonfuls fine breadcrumbs
- 50 gr pine kernels
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 eggs
- A little flour
- White pepper
- Put the chick peas into a very large saucepan and on top, all of the meat. The saucepan should be very large so that we can also make a lot of stock.
- Next, all of the vegetables, taking care that the potatoes are on top. After, the saffron or artificial colouring and salt to your liking but with the possibility of adding more if necessary towards the end of cooking.
- You have to bear in mind that the ingredients of the stew are never stirred, not even when it’s ready to serve.
- Fill the saucepan with water almost up to the top, leaving only sufficient space for it not to spill over when boiling and put it on maximum heat.
- As soon as it starts to boil, reduce the heat quite a lot since cooking must take place without the water evaporating too much and it’s going to have to be like this for about two hours at least. Cover the saucepan and leave it for the time we just said. Two hours.
Now it’s time to prepare the meatballs:
During this time, we’ll prepare the meatballs like this:
- Crush the garlic in a mortar with a bit of salt and then, chop the parsley up very finely.
- Put the meat into a glass bowl and on top, the grated bread, the butter, the pine kernels, the crushed garlic, the parsley, the eggs, salt to taste, a coffee-spoonful of green pepper and a pinch of cinammon.
- Mix it all together well with your hands until it’s evenly blended.
- After, flour your hands so that the mixture doesn’t stick to them and divide it into six parts, rolling each of them into a ball. Set them aside, ready for use.
- When what’s in the saucepan is just over half cooked, we can add the meatballs, putting them on top of the other ingredients, ensuring that they are covered as much as possible by the stock. Put the lid on the saucepan.
- When cooking is finished, after two hours or a little more, take the saucepan off the heat.
And that’s all. It’s ready to serve. This dish is very typical in the Mountains of Alicante. It’s here, in the Mountains of Alicante, between the two natural parks which are the Font Roja and the Serra de Mariola, that we produce one of the best extra virgin olive oils in the world.
And what about you? What typical dishes do you usually cook in your town, province or autonomous community? We’d love you to leave your recipes in the comments section.