Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recipes from Andorra

I am sick. Yes, I know I was crying sick only a couple of weeks ago, but this time it's knock-down, drag-out, 100+ temperature, coughing, sore muscles influenza. So although I wouldn't say I half-assed this week's meal, I did not go in the elaborate direction I was planning to.

Of course it wasn't entirely my fault. Mostly it was Safeway's fault. And also Raley's, Savemart and the co-op. And also the fact that recipes from Andorra are just not that easy to find.

Here's why. With a 2009 population total of 84,082 and a square mileage of 181 Andorra is not a big country. In fact, on a map it's practically microscopic:

Yes, that tiny little spec between France and Spain is Andorra.

Of course, many of the other countries I've cooked from aren't huge, either. So I guess I don't really know why it's so hard to find Andorran recipes. In any case, I wasn't able to find a whole lot on the internet. Maybe they just aren't that into computers there.

Or maybe they're just too busy with their economic mainstay: tourism. The Andorrans are apparently very busy people indeed; in fact for every one person in the country there are roughly 121 tourists who visit the country every single year. Why? Two words: "duty-free." And one more word: "resorts." Even so they apparently don't have very famous cuisine.

I found a few Andorran recipes on the Andorra Tourism website, most of which were either side dishes, appetizers or recipes containing ingredients you just can't find in California: "kid goat" (nope), "wild boar" (uh-uh), "quinces" (no and no), "duck gizzards" (well, probably with some effort, but ew). There were a few that seemed doable but too labor intensive for someone with the flu and four children (I wasn't up to cooking a whole duck) and a few that just didn't sound very good.

After venturing away from the site I happened on a recipe for poached river trout, which sounded nice and easy and palatable. I decided to do this with "Trinxat," one of the more popular Andorran side dishes (from what I can tell anyway), which sounded a little heavy but I thought would probably go down well with the trout. So I made my shopping list and off I hauled my poor pathetic exhausted self to the grocery store. Don't worry, I was careful not to cough on anything.

Well, as it turns out, there is a trout shortage in our little foothills town. Apparently. Just last week I saw trout at both Safeway and at the co-op (two different kinds!) but this week it was no where to be seen. So I had to abandon my plans, go home and start over.

So the other single option I had was the so-called "National Dish of Andorra:" Escudella. Which loosely translated means "more cholesterol than most people consume in an entire year." Now, given that the Andorran people have the fourth highest life-expectancy in the world, I have a hard time believing that this is really the national dish. But at any rate, I figured I could make this in my weakened state. It's a one-pot dish, and I wouldn't really need to do the trinxat with it since trinxat is also very rich and uses many of the same ingredients. So this week I am going with just one recipe, though I will include the two I was *going* to do in a separate entry.

If I feel better, I might also try making an Andorran dessert later in the week. If I do, I'll post that recipe too.

So here is the recipe for the Escudella (from EZineArticles):


Escudella, Andorra's National Dish


  • 2 cups dry white beans (I used a 16 oz package of the small white ones)
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 marrow bone
  • 3 chicken thighs (the recipe called for 1/4 of a chicken, but boneless-skinless is so much easier)
  • 14 oz raw pork sausage, rolled into balls
  • 1 thick ham steak, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage
  • 1 large white potato, cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup of pasta shells
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Roll the raw sausage into one- or two-bite sized balls.
  2. Rinse the dry beans in cold water.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the sausage balls over medium heat.
  4. Dice the ham.
  5. Put the beans, sausage, ham, chicken and bones into the pot with 8 cups of water.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, covered for two hours. The chicken should be very tender, almost falling apart.
  7. Remove the bones and bring the remaining stock and meat back up to a boil (if there isn't a lot of liquid you can add more water).
  8. Add the cabbage, potato, rice, pasta shells, garbanzo beans and salt and pepper.
  9. Cook for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and rice are tender.
Approximate time: . Serves 8.

    Yes, I know what you're thinking: "Marrow bone?????" I don't have any experience with marrow bones myself. So I asked the butcher at Safeway. He took me to the frozen meat section and showed me a package labeled "soup bones." So, it turns out I do have experience with marrow bones, because I use them every time I make a Vietnamese Pho. But I can see why they are called marrow bones, and here's why:

    See the marrow?

    A marrow bone is just what it sounds like, a bone that has marrow in its center. All you need to do with this bone is put it in the pot to make the stock, you don't need to actually use the marrow (though evidently some people do).

    Onward: this is a one-pot meal, and it's actually pretty easy (which is exactly what I needed). Start by rolling the raw sausage into balls. Mine were two-bite sized, you could also do smaller ones.

    Raw sausage all over my hands. Awesome.

    Next, rinse the dry beans in cold water.

    Just a short wash in your colander.

    Meanwhile, cook the sausage balls over medium heat. The original recipe said to cook them in vegetable oil, but why? There is already enough grease in sausage without adding even more to it.

    Cooking the sausage. Mine were just a little overdone.

    Now dice the ham:

    I just used a packaged ham steak. This week was all about simple.

    Now put the beans, sausage, ham, chicken and bones into the pot with 8 cups of water. A couple of notes, the recipe says to tie the bones up in cheesecloth, which I didn't have--so I just put them in the pot loose. The recipe also says to add salt to the water. I figured with all that bacon and ham I wasn't going to need the extra salt (and I was right).

    Now bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, covered for two hours. The chicken should be very tender, almost falling apart.

    Simmering beans, meat and bones.

    Now the recipe says to remove the bones. Here's the crazy part, it then says "If you like eating marrow, and most people do, you can save it for later." Wait, "most people do?" Seriously? Do you like eating bone marrow?

    Now bring the remaining stock and meat back up to a boil (if there isn't a lot of liquid you can add more water) and stir all the rest of the stuff in. Here's where the recipe gets a bit weird.

    I've never cooked rice with pasta, or pasta with potatoes, or rice with potatoes (except for this uninspired cream soup thing I used to do in college). There's a lot of starch in this recipe, in addition to a lot of different kind of meats. I'm guessing this recipe probably had its roots in a peasant tradition, where hungry people just throw together whatever they have and cook it over a hot fire.


    Cook for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and rice are tender.

    Now I think most people will probably like the results of this recipe, and if I'd been feeling better I probably would have been one of them. But it was way too oily and rich for me, given the state of my health. I predicted that Martin wouldn't like it at all, and he did not disappoint me. He usually dislikes anything that tastes fatty, except maybe hamburgers. My kids were also predictably unimpressed. Dylan ate the sausage, but the rest of their dinners went in the trash.

    Sadly, I didn't even save the leftovers, and there were a ton of them. The pasta, rice and potatoes meant I'd get poor results if I tried freezing them, and I couldn't see eating this for lunch. It was too rich and heavy and I really am trying to eat light during the day.

    So there you have it ... probably my most disappointing experience with International cuisine thus far. If you've cooked Andorra and had a different experience, please send me some recipes. This one will probably be good for a do-over.

    Next week: Angola.


    1. If you have ever eaten osso bucco and enjoyed it then I would say you enjoy eating marrow.

    2. Hi K-bobo! I don't think I have ever eaten osso bucco ... what is it?


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