Catalonia is located in the northeast region of the Iberian Peninsula and is made up of four main provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. According to Catalionan conceit, the region also includes the Catalan Lands which are known as the “Else Paisos Catalans” and include Valencia and it’s provinces to the south, Mountain Suzerainty of Andorra, the French Region of Roussillon to the North which is home to the most important agricultural area, the Balearic Islands, and the City of Alghero. All of these regions speak Catalan, or a dialect derived from it and share a common culinary heritage. Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia and it’s largest city, is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and extends down into Catalonia’s vineyard land where the popular drink of cava is sourced, along with many other great wines. Girona is bordered by both the Mediterranean Sea and France, and is the most Northeastern province of Catalonia, which is where the “Wild Coast” or Costa Brava is located. The history behind Catalonia is significant to their culinary life because it alludes to the great effort behind keeping the Catalan culture alive.
Catalan food is unique because it is a blend of European foods and Mediterranean foods, rather than foods found in the interior portions of Spain. It has been enriched by the cooking practices of the Romans, Visigoths, Moors, Italians, and French and the dishes resemble Catalonia’s medieval roots. Many of the basic ingredients that go into Catalan dishes include onions and peppers, aubergines, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, nuts, wild mushrooms, a variety of beans, apples and pears, and herbs. Rice, eggs, pasta, wild game, chicken, veal, pork, duck are also commonly seen as staples in Catalonian dishes. Additionally cinnamon and chocolate are utilized for many dessert dishes and wine or cava is served with almost every meal. Dishes are composed of simple ingredients and do not contain an overwhelming amount of seasoning, therefore it is necessary that they are made with the best, most fresh products. Traditional Catalan cuisine is quite diverse, ranging from pork-intensive dishes cooked in the inland part of the region (Catalonia is one of the main producers of swine products in Spain) to fish-based recipes along the coast.
I think I must have been a Spanish chef in a previous life because I am definitely gravitated towards all the different Spanish cuisines. I love Mexican food and spicy foods with a passion, but I also love the wide varieties of food from the mother land, Spain, just as much. My most recent Spanish/Catalan culinary adventure was with a Catalan pork and sausage stew.
Catalan Pork and Sausage Stew
This is a simple stew made with simple ingredients, that when combined is just simply perfection. I used some cooked pulled pork that Larry had made earlier.
1 1/2-2 lbs cooked pulled pork
1-1/2 lbs sausage
1 1/2 lbs pumpkin, peeled and cubed
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced medium
1 bell pepper, diced medium
1 jalapeno, diced fine
2 cups tomatoes, diced
salt & pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1-2 TBSP garlic
1 cup dry white wine
3 TBSP tomato paste
1-1 1/2 cups water
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Cook the sausage until mostly done. Allow it to cool, then slice.
Cook the onions, peppers, pumpkin and garlic in olive oil until tender.
Add the sausage and continue to cook until it is done.
Add the wine and be careful of flare-ups. Add the bay leaves.
Stir in the tomato paste.
Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and continue to cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring often.
Serve in a bowl since you want all the good flavors of the broth too. Serve with warmed bread to soak up the flavorful broth. You don’t want any of it to go to waste. I served it with warmed pita bread and a cool, crisp chardonnay, but a warm, full bodied red wine would pair nicely as well. !Delicioso! !Desfruitas!
Whether you are in the Catalonia areas of Spain or you are just bringing Catalonia to your own kitchen, I guarantee you are going to love this warm comforting stew. It is loaded with nothing but pure goodness that will warm you up from the inside out.
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.