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collection by ICAF Europe

Escudella i Carn d'Olla (Catalan meat stew)

Ingredients: (for 4 people)
For the stew:
1 small ham bone
1 marrow bone (veal or beef)
1/4 chicken or 2 pieces of chicken
6 slices of cooked pork black sausage
(blood sausage, a bit like black pudding)
1 pig's ear
2 slices of cured Spanish ham
1 piece (about 1/2 Kg) of hock of veal
8 cups cold water
1/2 a head of cabbage, cut into chunks
1 large potato, cut into eighths
1 stick of celery
1 turnip (cut in half)
1 onion (cut finely)
1 carrot (cut in half)
1 cup of thin noodles
1 cup of cooked chickpeas (or soak
dried chickpeas in water overnight)
salt and pepper to taste.

For the meatball (pilota):
250 g of the lean part of pork meat
250 g of bacon
3 cloves of garlic (cut very thin)
1 branch of parsley (chopped finely)
250 g bread, soaked in milk
2 egg yolks

Put the bones, the chicken in pieces, the back of the knee, the pig's ear and the ham in a pot or casserole with 8 cups of cold water and salt to taste. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and cook gently, covered, for 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the pilota (meat balls). Put all the ingredients into a mixer or mincer. Add the egg yolks, salt and mix together. From this mixture make a couple of meat balls.

Remove the ham and the bones and discard them. Bring back to the boil and add the cabbage, potato, carrot, noodles, chickpeas, the turnip, the celery, the black sausage, the pilota and salt and pepper to taste. Bring it to the boil and simmer gently for another hour (or until the chicken is very, very tender).

Remove the chicken and other meat, including the meat balls, and put aside. If there is not enough liquid left, add a bit of water for further cooking of the remaining ingredients and bring this to a rapid boil. Continue cooking over a medium heat for 30 minutes or until all the remaining ingredients are well cooked.

Remove any bones from the chicken and meat, which was put aside, and shred the meat. A few minutes before serving, return this meat to the main pot. Correct the seasoning and strain the liquid off the other ingredients. Serve separately, first the strained liquid as a soup for the starter, and later the meat and the vegetables, as the main course.

Note: The pilota is the most characteristic part of this Catalan stew. This traditional meatball and the rest of the boiled meat are the "carn d'olla" (literally: the meat of the pot), and in olden times used as the Christmas main course. Today, for many people, it is just the first course, or starter, for this festive meal, and another, main course follows.