One of our best-kept secrets here in southern Spain is the intense cold of our winters. (Especially in the mountains.) For centuries before the advent of central heating, field labourers had to stock up on nourishing, warming food in order to get through a day’s work in the bitter cold. This leads us onto another of our best-kept secrets. The wonderful range of stews, roasts and hotpots which have evolved here in the Serranía de Ronda. Estofado andaluz (Andalucian Hotpot) is one of them!
As you work your way through the ingredients in my recipe, you will notice how they are all items which even the humblest country kitchen could furnish in the depth of winter. This dish is the perfect example of how skillful home cooks made the most of what they had to hand, turning these ingredients into something marvellous!
Ingredients for Estofado andaluz (Andalucian Hotpot)
- 1 kg (2.2 lbs) pork (or beef), cut into chunks
- 1 large green pepper, cut into chunks
- 1 large tomato, quartered
- 2 onions, sliced
- 2 carrots, halved lengthwise
- 8 black peppercorns, crushed
- 250 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
- 4 potatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 head of roasted garlic (see note below)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 500 ml (2 cups) olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt, to taste
- 1 sprig of parsley, chopped
Instructions for Estofado andaluz (Andalucian Hotpot)
- Preheat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the veal, green pepper, tomato, onions, and carrots.
- In a mortar and pestle, crush the peppercorns, roasted garlic, garlic cloves, saffron, and cinnamon to form a paste. Add 100 ml (1/2 cup) of water to the mixture to dissolve the spices.
- Pour the spice mixture into the pot with the meat and vegetables. Add the white wine, olive oil, bay leaves, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Add enough water to the pot to just cover the meat and vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary to keep the ingredients covered.
- After 1 hour, add the chopped potatoes to the pot. Continue to cook for an additional 30-45 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are tender and the potatoes are cooked through.
- Remove the bay leaves and discard. Serve hot, garnished with chopped parsley.
Note: To roast, spear the head of garlic with a long metal tool and toast it over an open flame or a gas stove, turning it to ensure even exposure to the heat, until the garlic is properly blackened. Alternatively, you could roast the garlic in the oven by wrapping it in foil and baking it at 200°C (400°F) for 30-40 minutes, until the cloves are soft and golden.
Once the garlic is roasted, you can separate the cloves and squeeze out the soft, caramelized flesh, which can be used to add a rich, sweet, and slightly smoky flavor to many different dishes including this one!
Some tips and tricks to ensure a great result with your Estofado Andaluz
- Choose a good quality meat: The quality of the meat you use will greatly impact the overall flavor and texture of your stew. Choose a tender cut of pork or beef for best results.
- Use a heavy-bottomed pot: A heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven will distribute heat evenly and prevent scorching or burning.
- Brown the meat before adding the vegetables: Browning the meat before adding the vegetables will create a rich, caramelized flavor that will enhance the overall taste of the stew.
- Use a mortar and pestle to grind the spices: Using a mortar and pestle to grind the spices will release their oils and flavors, creating a more aromatic and flavorful stew.
- Cook the stew low and slow: Cooking the stew low and slow over a period of several hours will help the flavors to meld together and create a rich, complex flavor.
- Add the potatoes towards the end of cooking: Potatoes cook faster than the other ingredients in the stew, so it’s best to add them towards the end of cooking to ensure they don’t become mushy.
- Garnish with fresh herbs: Garnishing the stew with fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro will add a pop of color and freshness to the finished dish.
- Experiment with additional ingredients: Don’t be afraid to experiment with additional ingredients like chickpeas, pumpkin, or other vegetables to create your own unique version of the dish.
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