Cocido (Spanish pork and chicken stew)

Cocido is a traditional beef, chicken and chickpea stew from Madrid. It is similar to the French “Pot au feu”, where all the meat and vegetables are cooked together and then eaten separately, with the liquid served as a starter and the meat and vegetables as the second course.

The recipe is based on one by Carlos Arguiñano (see this page for his Spanish version).

Cocido
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 300g chickpeas, soaked for at least 24 hours
  2. 300g pork, cut into chunks
  3. 1 chicken thigh
  4. chorizo
  5. strip pork belly
  6. morcilla de cebolla (Spanish black pudding made with onions)
  7. 1 ham bone
  8. 1 white bone
  9. 1 large onion, chopped
  10. 2 carrots
  11. 3 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
  12. 1/2 white cabbage, shredded
  13. 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  14. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat some oil in a pressure cooker and gently fry the onion until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.
  3. Add the meat and bones (except for the chicken, chorizo or black pudding) and 2.5 litres of water.
  4. Season with salt and bring to the boil.
  5. Add the chickpeas, put on the lid and bring up to pressure.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Run the cooker under a cold tap to reduce the pressure.
  8. Open and transfer some of the cooking liquid to saucepan.
  9. Add the shredded cabbage and the chorizo and morcilla to the pan with cooking liquid and cook for 15 minutes.
  10. Add the potato and carrot tot he pressure cooker.
  11. Bring back up to pressure and cook for 5 minutes.
  12. Serve.
Notes
  1. Cocido Madrileño is traditionally made with beef, chicken, pork belly, black pudding, chorizo and bones, For this non-traditional version, I used pork, chicken, chorizo and meat bones. Mercadona sell a chicken and pork pack for this type of stew that includes the meat and different types of bones that you need.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Using the Almond dehusker

When almonds are ready to pick some of them have a green casing or husk attached to the almond. Some of the husks are brown and easy to remove and some are more firmly attached. The best way of removing them is with an electric dehusker. The Almonds are poured in the top and the clean almonds come out of the chute into a container.  After dehusking the almonds are  left in the sun for a final drying. The husks can be used as a mulch or even as animal fodder for goats or horses etc. A dehusking machine costs about 800 euros and uses about 750 watts. We usually manage to dehusk the almonds using solar power.

The dehusking machine is quite noisy and the people working closest use ear plugs.  The big thing to remember with a dehusking machine is not to switch it off when there are still nuts inside. You have to wait until you can hear that the nuts have all passed through before switching off. If the machine stops with nuts inside it is difficult to restart. You have to switch the machine off and then  turn the flywheel backwards manually. Then the machine is switched back on again and the flywheel is give an extra push with a foot. This can be quite tricky.  

Pork stew

Pork Stew
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 500g pork, chunky pork ribs
  2. 1 onion, coarsely diced
  3. 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  4. 1 large red pepper, coarsely diced
  5. 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
  6. chorizo, sliced
  7. 1 chilli pepper, sliced
  8. green beans, optional (it's just that they're in season at the moment)
  9. 500g butter beans, soaked for at least 48 hours
  10. 3 medium-sized potatoes, cut into pieces
  11. vegetable stock (1.5 litres of water and 2 stock cubes)
  12. salt and pepper
  13. olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat some olive oil in a pressure cooker.
  2. Gently fry the onion on a medium heat for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the red pepper and fry until soft.
  4. Add the sliced chorizo and fry until the onion and pepper have taken on the red oil released from the chorizo.
  5. Add the chopped garlic and stir well for a minute or so.
  6. Add the chopped tomato,
  7. Tur up the heat and stir until the tomato has reduced.
  8. Add the pork pieces, chilli, butter beans and potato and mix well.
  9. Add a teaspoon of salt and season with ground black pepper.
  10. Pour over the vegetable stock so that there is slightly more liquid than ingredients.
  11. Leave the pot uncovered and bring to the boil.
  12. Add more water if necessary.
  13. Cover and bring the pressure cooker up to the 2nd level of pressure.
  14. When the cooker is at pressure, time for 60 minutes.
  15. Serve with salad and garlic mayonnaise.
Notes
  1. If you prefer a thinner stew, use potato pieces.
  2. If you would like a thicker stew, coarsely grate 2 of the potatoes and cut the third one into pieces.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Crushing and Destemming Grapes to make Wine

Grape Crushing Machine

Grape Crushing Machine

After picking the grapes we have to crush the grapes to allow the liquid to escape from the skins and also to separate the stems from the grapes. Many years ago the whole process was done by hand or by foot. The grapes were put into a big container and they were crushed underfoot. This would be a lot of work for even a small vineyard like ours. For this reason we use a detemming and crushing machine.  Our machine uses about 600 watts so as long as the sun is shining we can use the solar panels of the house to power it.

It is at this moment that we have to measure the sugar content of the must. This is the best way of knowing what the final alcohol percentage will be.  We use a refractometer to do the measurement. It works a bit like a prism which  reacts differently to light (by giving a reading on a scale) depending upon the amount of sugar that is available in the sample.

When the must (grape juice) comes out of the machine it drops into buckets. We then carry the must to the 200 litre plastic drums. After a couple of days the yeast from the skins of the grapes will start to ferment the sugars. This is called initial fermentation which lasts a few weeks depending on temperature and other factors. It is in the initial fermentation that the wine gets the color from the skins. In the wine made in the video below we allowed the wine to stay with the skins for about 4 weeks. This is probably a little too long and the wine picked up a bit too much tannin from the skins. This year we will press the wine (separate the skins from the liquid) sooner.

Courgettes 2018 – Recipe for courgette fritters

COURGETTE SEASON 2018

So the 2018 courgette season has arrived and I’m enjoying trying out new recipes to find different ways of preparing them. I prefer to pick them when they are still quite small. That way you can use several at a time when they are at their best for a side dish rather than waiting until they are the size of marrows. There are always some that get away but I’ll slice these lengthways and give them to the chickens so that they can peck out the seeds.

FAVOURITE COURGETTE RECIPE

My all-time favourite way of preparing courgettes is to slice the small courgettes into 2cm slices. Fry them in a covered pan with some extra virgin olive oil. Turn every so often so that they lose their liquid and catch a bit of colour on each side. After 10 minutes or so, toss in a knob of butter, grind over some black pepper and squeeze over some lemon juice. Delicious.

DIFFERENT RECIPES

My challenge each year is to find some new and interesting recipes to use up the abundant crop.

The first recipe I tried didn’t salt the courgettes first which proved to be a messy mistake. In the second one I salted the grated courgette and left for an hour before squeezing the water out.

This recipe is adapted from Felicity Cloake’s “How to cook …” column in the Guardian “How to cook the perfect courgette fritters“.

The second recipe worked a lot better and I’d use this technique again in the future.

Here is the recipe.

Courgette fritters
Serves 2
A simple recipe for courgette fritters
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Ingredients
  1. 2 medium-sized courgettes, coarsely grated
  2. 1 small salad onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 handfuls of grated cheese
  4. 2 tablespoons self-raising flour
  5. 2 tablespoons polenta
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Put the courgette in a bowl, sprinkle over the salt and mix well.
  2. Leave for about an hour and then transfer to a colander and squeeze out the water.
  3. Add the onion and egg and mix well.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat some oil in a frying pan.
  6. Put in sponfuls of the courgette mixture and fry on a high heat for 3 minutes.
  7. Flip the fritters and fry for a further 3 minutes on the other side.
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