Bollit / hervido (“boiled”)

Picture of a portion of bollit / hervido in a soup dish, containing half a red onion, a carrot and one potato with a dash of butter

In the quest for the most extravagant and spectacularly looking dishes, we often overlook the basics. What a shame!

So here’s one of them: bollit (in Valencian) or hervido (in Spanish). Which literally means… boiled!

This dish is extremely simple, consisting of boiling vegetables in salted water, and then having them with a bit of fat of your choosing. I know‚ÄĒit sounds “unappetising”, and it looks “ugly”, but it can be oh so comforting, especially when the weather is cold or if you’re feeling not so great and all you need is some simple food that doesn’t require extremely sophisticated skills to prepare.

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Bocadillo de hígado con picada (livers with green sauce sandwich)

Bocadillo de hígado con picada

This is the home-cooked version of a classic tapa or bar food. Normally you either snack from the livers drenched in this brutal green garlicky sauce, or have them on a ‘sandwich’ which has also been generously drenched in the sauce.

I’d warn that this is not something you want to bring to your office, unless you really hate your coworkers, because the garlic is STRONG in here.

Ingredients

  • Livers (I used chicken livers, but it’s traditionally made with pork liver)
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Fresh parsley

You’ll also need a mortar and pestle, or a blender.

Preparation

First slice the livers into bite sized pieces. Put on a hot pan with oil, and fry them until they are nicely browned.

Stir frying livers
Stir frying livers

In the meantime, wash and chop off the rough ends on the parsley, and peel as many cloves as you feel you can handle in your sauce. This is what I went for:

Now you have two options, depending on whether you’re using a mortar or a blender:

1) If you’re using a mortar, place the cloves on it, add a pinch of salt and start mashing carefully (the cloves have a tendency to slip away… like a banana peel). Once they’re a bit of a paste, start adding pieces of parsley (it helps to cut them a bit with scissors or your hands so it’s not the whole twig sticking out of the mortar), and keep mashing and smashing and adding bits of oil as you need to keep it paste like but not too liquid that things slip away from you.

2) If you’re using a blender, you can be lazy like I was and stick everything on the blender jar and blend it down to a paste. You’ll need to add lots more oil though.

You can make a bigger batch that way and store it in the fridge for a few days. It’s either the copious amounts of oil or the very strong GARLIC but it won’t go off.

Back to the livers, once they’re browned, you can choose between adding a good amount of the green sauce to them and stir while they’re still on the pan, or maybe toasting some bread, adding the sauce and then the livers. ¬°Buen provecho! (and don’t forget some napkins… as it’s going to be messy!)

Other uses of the sauce (and leftover livers)

This sauce is used as accompaniment to lots other dishes, normally things that you stir-fry:

  • mushrooms,
  • squid (cut in squares or fried whole)
  • steaks

Sometimes it’s also combined with tomato sauce, specially in sandwiches: one “side” has green sauce and the other one has a red sauce made with mashed tomato. The contrast is divine!

Other ideas, if you have left-over livers:

  • use them as topping for pasta. Cook the pasta as usual, drain almost all the water from the pot, and then add some oil or green sauce, and the livers, and stir and mix everything together.
  • or as topping for an “Arroz a la cubana” – cook some tomato sauce with the livers and thinly sliced onion and garlic, then serve with nicely cooked white rice.

On sandwich and sandwich bread

I used quotes around ‘sandwich’ because in Spain you would use a stout piece of stick bread, a sort of wider relative of the French baguette, and not square sandwich bread that has been baked on a tin. You need something that can hold everything together and contain the copious amounts of oil, and frankly, flimsy sandwich bread won’t cut it.

Even more, we refer to sandwiches as those made with baked tin loaves, and those loaves are called ‘sandwich bread’ (pan de sandwich).

Why this?

Last December in Valencia, I was excitedly telling my mum that we going to a “bar de bocatas” that is famous for having lots of different bocadillos on the menu, and my mum wondered if they would have one of her favourites, h√≠gado con picada? They didn’t, but it made me want it, and so I took note to cook it when I came back.

This is a bit complicated because WHY ARE SHOPS NOT SELLING LIVERS? I just don’t get it. We’re trying to go all anti food-waste and then shops only sell some parts of animals. What are they doing with the rest? Nonsense.

Anyway. This was my mum’s idea!

Chana saag “a la espa√Īola” (Spanishised chana saag)

Chickpeas with spinach, tomato

We cook dals and curries quite often, but after we had spent the beginning of the year in Spain, we wondered whether we could cook a curry but in a Spanish style. I was certain this was possible‚ÄĒafter all, chickpeas with spinach is a typical dish in southern Spain‚ÄĒand yet it was amusing to do it deliberately: to set out to cook a curry but using Spanish seasoning only.

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