What's Cooking in Basieda
The gardens are mainly dormant now but there are some beautiful winter colours around and when the sun comes out bees can be seen buzzing around the rosemary bushes which are in flower.
The fireplaces are all going and being in the house reminds me of my childhood. The kitchen is where we always used to hang out as it's so cozy in winter, mum invariably had something wonderful cooking and the crackle of the fireplaces mixed with the smells of whatever she had on the stove were a magical combination.
Staying the in Manor House is a great opportunity to step back in time and dream of times gone by, and part of that can be ditching the modern appliances and cooking on the fireplace. Whether it's grilling or stewing, the house has all the utensils you need to cook how the liebanagos used to do before the arrival of gas and electricity in the villages. Mum often used to do this when we were growing up and I thought I'd have a crack at one of her recipes.
Mum's Basieda Stew:
This is perfect for when it's cold outside. Obviously you don't need to cook it on the fireplace but while the fire is going it's madness not to and great fun to boot!
I can't say that this stew is really a liebana recipe, it more pays tribute to mum's Irish heritage spliced with 30 years of living in the Picos, regardless it's delicious and so simple to do:
Ingredients (for 8 people)
1 Kg carne picada (This is essentially deconstructed chorizo meat. Mum gets this from the butcher Juanito in Potes, she says it's the best in town)
8 Potatoes (medium sized, cleaned but not peeled. Again, mum says that the skins are good for you and I've learnt better than to question her on this)
2 Large onions peeled and chopped, red or white (I prefer red)
1 Bay leaf (we've got some in the gardens here so just ask if you'd like some)
4 Pints of stock (vegetable or chicken)
Garlic (1 bulb diced into small pieces or crushed)
Olive oil (couple of tablespoons)
Pickled chillies (optional)
Olive Oil (couple of tablespoons)
Get the fire going and make sure that you've got plenty of embers as you'll need these to spread under the cooking pot so that the heat is evenly distributed.
Pour the oil into the pot and heat on the embers, then tip in the onion in to soften, followed shortly by the garlic. Cover the pot for this part so that they don't brown and be careful not to burn the garlic.
Once softened (5 mins or so), then add the carne picada. Break this up as you put it in and keep stirring the pot so that it doesn't clump together. Keep this cooking intensely for another 5 mins so as to cook the meat and then pour in the stock and add the bay leaf.
You can now start to add the potatoes. The important part here though is to "break cut" them into bite-sized pieces into the stew so that they have rough edges. This will allow them to be really soft and add a bit of body to the stew as bits of potato will break off the rough edges which gives the stew a really nice texture. You shouldn't need to add any salt or pepper as the carne picada is quite salty and has lots of paprika spice.
Now just sit back, open a bottle of wine and watch it bubble away. You'll need to give the pot a stir every now and then so that the stew doesn't stick to the bottom. Cook for around 45 minutes - 1 hour until the potato is nice and soft and the stew has thickened to your liking. Add chillis to garnish as their vinegary spice offsets the richness of the stew really well.