In the past, most people in Spain, like most people anywhere, could only afford to have meat dishes on special occasions. Pork loin with figs and Pedro Jiménez sauce is a simple, yet sophisticated, meat dish.
Serves 4 | Preparation: 15 minutes | Cooking, frying and roasting time: 55 minutes
For the side
1 tablespoon raisins
8 dried figs or pitted prunes, halved
Sherry for marinating
For the pork loin
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) pork loin
Olive oil for frying
125 ml (4 fl oz) sweet sherry (e.g. Pedro Jiménez)
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour
150–200 ml (5–7 fl oz) hot chicken stock
Sea salt flakes
3–4 small sprigs thyme
Prepare the side dish
Soak the raisins and dried figs or prunes in the sherry and set aside.
Roast the pork loin
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Trim any skin, tendons or fat off the pork loin.
Trim off the ends and use elsewhere. Cut the meat into four even pieces. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof pan over high heat and sear the pork loin all over. Cover, transfer to the middle rack of the oven and roast until cooked through, about 15–20 minutes.
Prepare the sauce
Deglaze the meat juices in the roasting pan with the sherry. Heat some more olive oil in another pan over medium heat and caramelise the onion with a little salt. Once the onion is lightly caramelised, stir in the flour and cook for another minute before adding the sherry stock. Bring everything to the boil. Add the soaked dried fruit and simmer to reduce somewhat. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer for about 15 minutes to make a creamy gravy. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Put the dish together
Season the pork loin with pepper and arrange the slices on warmed plates. Pour the gravy around the meat slices and divide the dried fruit among the plates. Garnish with sea salt flakes and sprigs of thyme. Serve with potatoes.
Cloïsses a la marinera is a delicacy that is available all year round. Virtually all restaurants, especially those directly on the beaches, have this simple, yet entirely delicious, dish on their menus.
Fresh clams should be cleaned in salt water before cooking.
Serves 4 | Preparation: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes
100 ml (3½ fl oz) white wine
2 bay leaves
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) large or
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) small clams
50 ml (1½ fl oz) olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 small dried red chilli, seeded and chopped
Add half of the wine, a little water and the bay leaves to a large pan and heat over very high heat. Add the clams, cover and steam for 3–4 minutes until the shells open. Do this in several batches, if necessary. Remove and discard any shells that do not open. Strain the clam broth through a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) and reserve.
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden brown. Reduce the heat. Thoroughly stir in the paprika and flour to form a roux.
Continue to simmer for 3–4 minutes, then add the remaining wine and reserved clam broth.
Simmer to reduce the liquid. Stir in the tomatoes and dried chilli. Return the clams to the thickened sauce after about 10 minutes. Bring to the boil over high heat and stir well.
Serve with white bread.
Spain is blessed with an abundance of vegetable- and fruit-growing areas. The fertile Ebro valley produces an excellent variety of plums, among others. In Barcelona, these are often transformed into a beautifully coloured, refreshing sorbet.
Serves 4 | Preparation: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Freezing time: 5 hours
7–9 large, ripe plums
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cinnamon stick, plus extra for garnish
1 star anise, plus extra for garnish
200 ml (7 fl oz) red wine
Halve the plums and remove the stones. Quarter one plum and set aside.
Heat the sugar with 3 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the sugar starts to brown, add the plum halves and stir well to prevent the sugar from burning. Add the large cinnamon stick and the star anise. Simmer for 4–5 minutes, then deglaze with the wine and continue to simmer until the plums are soft.
Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise. Strain the fruit purée through a sieve and sweeten to taste. Leave the mixture to cool, then transfer to an ice cream maker to churn; alternatively, freeze for a few hours in a bowl. If freezing, stir the mixture regularly, every 30 minutes if possible, to break down any ice crystals as they form.
Serve the sorbet in chilled cocktail glasses, garnished with a plum wedge, cinnamon sticks and star anise.
This sorbet also tastes great with doughnut peaches or any other sweet, aromatic fruit of your choice.