Porc a la Catalunya
Region: Spain, Catalonia
Difficulty: Easy but long cooking time
This typical family meal from Catalonia is best cooked in an earthenware casserole. The sauce becomes unctuous and syrupy, the pork and eggplant melting away--it’s very delicious. The pork should be accompanied with rice cooked in a court-bouillon of water, fresh coriander, orange peel, saffron and black pepper.
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours
˝ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 slice white part of French or Italian country bread
12 roasted almonds, crushed fine
2 ˝ pounds pork butt, trimmed of excessive fat, cut into 2-inch pieces
All-purpose flour for dredging
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large ripe tomato (about 9 to 10 ounces), peeled and chopped
Salt to taste
2 eggplant (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 cup water
1. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil with the garlic over medium-high heat. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, remove and set aside in a bowl. Cook the bread slice until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes, then quickly remove and set aside with the garlic. When they are cool, chop the bread and garlic and mix with the almonds.
2. Dredge the pork pieces in the flour, tapping off any excess then cook them in the pan in which you cooked the garlic and bread until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the meat with tongs or a slotted ladle to an earthenware casserole. Cook the onion in the skillet until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring. Transfer the onions to the earthenware casserole. (If using earthenware and if it is not flameproof, or if you don't know, you will need to use a heat diffuser. Earthenware heats up slower but retains its heat longer than non-earthenware casseroles. When using earthenware, food may cook slower at first and then cook very quickly while retaining its heat, so adjust accordingly).
3. Place the casserole on a heat diffuser and add the tomato and salt and turn the heat to high until it begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the sauce is denser, about 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to low if the sauce is bubbling too vigorously.
Add the eggplants and the nut-bread mixture to the casserole, stir well to mix, add the water, and cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the eggplant is soft and the liquid nearly evaporated, 30 to 45 minutes. Serve very hot.