The fricandó is an oddity because beef or veal are not very common as ingredients in the traditional Catalan cuisine, which is mainly based in fish, seafood and game. That is, simple things they could catch in a net, pick or hunt not very far away from home.
Nevertheless, the first references to fricandó appear as early as the XVIII century in some cooking books written by priests.
Fricandó does incorporate an ingredient that is almost a symbol of national pride in Catalonia: mushrooms. Actually, the most mentioned fungi in traditional recipes of fricandó are the moixernós or moixerós, a word with an extraordinary phonetic resemblance (when pronounced properly in Catalan) with the English term mushroom.
This recipe also incorporates a very typical preparation of the Catalan gastronomy: the picada, which consistis of combination of toasted nuts (commonly almonds or hazelnuts), garlic, parsley and saffron mashed together in a mortar. The function of picada is to add lots of flavor to stews and to thicken the sauce, giving it a velvety texture. We´ll have a whole -and well deserved- post for picada later this year.
The good thing about fricandó is that, as long as you have these two base ingredients, beef and mushrooms, you can add a few more (onion, tomato, garlic) and always call it a fricandó. The other good thing about this dish is that you can prepare it well in advance, a day or so, and just reheat before serving. In fact, the fricandó shown in this post was cooked a day in advance and it was simply delicious as flavors grew in character overnight.
FRICANDÓ DE TERNERA
Ingredients (4 people)
|1 kg||Veal rump (finely cut)|
|½ lt||Beef stock|
|½ kg||Mixed mushrooms (champignon, porcini, portobello,etc)|
|1 glass||Red wine|
|100 gr||Toasted almonds|
|1||Slice of bread|
1. Put a generous amount of olive oil in a saucepan and fry all the ingredients of the picada –except for saffron and parsley- for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the pan and add saffron and parsley. Using a mortar and pestle mash the ingredients together until obtaining a soft paste.
2. Flour the veal and remove the excess. Seal the meat in a cast iron saucepan. Putt the meat aside, add olive oil to the saucepan as well as the onion and garlic finely chopped. When onion is soft and poached, add the wine and let reduce for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes nad the bay leaf.
3. When tomatoes had changed color, add the meat and the stock. Let it simmer until meat is tender.
4. In the meantime, peel the potatoes and cut them in slices ¼ inch thick. Fry them in a saucepan with very hot vegetable oil.
5. When the meat is half-cooked, add the mushrooms. When meat is about to be ready, add the picada.
6. Serve two to three pieces of veal per dish, cover them with sauce and use the potatoes for garnish.