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Escudella Recipe – How To Make A Perfect Andorran Dish

While Andorran cuisine is mostly Catalan, it also bears some influence from Italy and Spain, due to the close proximity to this small country. Due to its mountainous regions, sheep is a common livestock animal, making lamb the favoured meat, but pork features quite often in Andorran cuisine as well, especially in the form of sausages and ham. Due to its large sea opening, fish is another common ingredient as well.

Fresh vegetables are paramount for the very finest of Andorran cuisine, and the most commonly used vegetables are potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage and salary. Staples tend to be pasta and bread, which is usually served with cheese and wine. Foei gras is also very commonly found on the Andorran dining table. Andorran cuisine is well known for using a variety of cooking methods and techniques. Using just the right amount of spices, or being able to pair the correct wine with your food is considered an essential part of Andorran dining.

Escudella

Escudella is a classic Catalan dish, but with the deft flourishes and infectious personality imparted to it by generations of Andorran cooks, Andorra now has its own version Escudella, and it amazing enough to be referred to as Andorra’s national dish.

It is basically a stew made from gelatinous bone broth, with the protein in it coming from chicken, ham and sausage, along with veal or beef bones. There are many variations of Escudella, which is expected since it is considered a traditional peasant dish, and is a comfort food to a lot of Andorrans. Some cooks find the Escudella lacking in color contrast and vibrancy, but that’s just a visual component: once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be coming back for more and more and more. It’s definitely a hearty, one-dish wonder.

The Ingredients:

2 cups dry white beans

1 small ham bone

1 marrow bone (veal or beef)

1/4 chicken (or used several pieces, according to your taste for white or dark)

400 g raw pork sausages, sliced or formed into balls

2 slices cured ham, cut in chunks

1 large potato, cut in eights (Desiree or white)

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1/4 cup rice

1 cup of pasta noodles (or pasta shells)

1 cup of cooked chick peas (yes, you can used canned ones to save time)

Salt and pepper (according to your tastes)

The Instructions:

Gently cook the sausage pieces/balls in a cast iron Dutch oven with vegetable oil over medium heat until browned. If you don’t have Dutch oven, a pot or flame proof-Casserole dish will do just as well.

Rinse the dry white beans in cold water and tie the ham bone and marrow bone in cheesecloth.

Put the beans, bones in cheesecloth, cooked sausage and ham in the pot or casserole. Fill it up with 8 cups of cold water, and add salt according to taste.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the flames and let it cook gently, covered, for about 2 hours. A good test of seeing whether it is ready is to check that the beans are cooked, and whether the chicken is very tender.

Remove the bones and discard them. If you like eating marrow, and most people do, you can save it for later.

Remove the chicken pieces and put them aside.

If there is only a little liquid left, you can add a bit more water.

Bring it to a rapid boil.

When it’s boiling, put in the cabbage, potatoes, rice, noodles (or shells), cooked chick peas and add pepper to taste.

Turn the flames down to a medium heat.

Cook for 30 minutes. You can test to see whether it’s ready by checking on the softness of the rice and potatoes.

Before serving, put the chicken back inside. If it’s on a bone, and you don’t like bones, you can remove them from the meat before putting it back into the pot or casserole.

Cook for a few more minutes. This is so that the chicken in the stew/soup is heated back up.

Season to taste.

Serve warm.

Suggestions:

Baguettes or other French/Italian bread are the perfect accompaniment for this dish.

Notes:

The final result should be a mix of stew and soup: think of the consistency of split pea soup.

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