Autumn flavors – roasted potatoes and onions with a nutty sauce to go with it….. hearty food with rich flavors, different textures and enough substance to satisfy your appetite. And, once you have enough romesco sauce on stock, very easy and quick.
Romesco sauce (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
- 1 ripe tomato
- 1 whole head of garlic
- 60mL of olive oil
- 70g toasted blanched hazelnuts
- 200 of sliced white country-style bread
- 50 mL of sherry vinegar (fifty, not five hundred)
- 240g of roasted peppers (Adrià recommends Chorizero pepper paste, but I was not able to source. I replaced it an equivalent quantity of with preserved roasted peppers)
Method Pre heat the oven to 200 oC Put the tomato and head of garlic in a roasted tray and cook for about 45min or until is tender and blackened. Peel the tomatoes and garlic cloves and put into a big bowl (more likely, you will have to squeeze the garlic). Roast the hazelnuts in a pan with a bit of olive oil over medium heat, until they are dark golden. Remove, drain with a kitchen paper and set aside. Fry the bread with a bit of olive oil, and break to small pieces with your hands. Add the vinegar, nuts, bread, fried bread and peppers to the bowl where the tomato and garlic are. Process with a hand held blender to make a coarse paste. Blend in the olive oil until smooth. Baked potatoes (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal) Ingredients
- 1 baking potato per person
- 2 small onions per person
- Salt to taste
Method Pre heat the oven to 200 oC Wrap each potato in aluminum foil Put in a roasting tray and bake for about 45min or until the potatoes are soft and onion skins are charred. Cut the potatoes and the onions in half. Season with salt to taste. Serve with the romesco sauce.
Fly-in-fly-out to Barcelona… A little less than 11 hours in town, which allowed to fit in enough time to do my thing, touch the Mediterranean and buy proper ham at the airport free shop. And, by proper ham, I mean jamón ibérico de bellota [acorn Iberian ham], the dark red meat marbled with veins of fat which only the free range black Iberian pigs who feast on acorns can have. It is only the finest of cured hams and is considered one of the best delicacies in the world. Well, let’s make it clear – it actually is. I have seen otherwise serious gown up almost shed a tear when they tasted. As M. eloquently put it “the kind of thing that makes worthwhile years of studying just to be able to afford it”. And, if I may add, instrumental to cope with endless hours of corporate drama.
In any case, once the precious ham was acquired, carefully transported into Switzerland and put to rest in the fridge, I still had to figure out how to serve it. It was not just a question of dropping it in a hot plate… This ham deserved the best ingredient to compliment its nutty rich flavor and bring the best out of it. Since I had just been in Barcelona, it seemed totally logical to serve it with tomato bread, a combination of flavors made in heaven, known in Catalonia as pa amb tomàquet. It is said to be the most popular dish of their cuisine, and you may find different versions and lines of thought. Toasted or fresh bread? Garlic, or no garlic? Rub the tomato or use a pre-made mixture? Grate the tomato or puree it? I just avoided all the metaphysical question by resorting to my ex-Spanish Mother-in-Law strong recommendations.
Iberian ham and tomato bread (pa amb tomàquet amb pernil, Pan con tomate y jamón)
- Finely sliced cured ham
- 1 garlic teeth, peeled and cut in half
- Slices of toasted rustic bread
- Tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes, as they taste of something. When in Spain, I would have probably used regular grape tomatoes.
- Olive oil to taste
1. Grate the tomatoes into a bowl.
1. Toast the bread for a few minutes, until is warm and slightly crusty
2. Rub with the half garlic.
4. Drizzle with olive oil
5.Spread the grated tomato paste to taste
6. Put the ham slices on top