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Many food cultures have their variations on the stew; this is one of the best Catalonia has to offer: fricandó. It's beef and mushrooms and delicious. It was also the first recipe chef Oscar Manresa of Barcelona's Casa Leopoldo wanted to teach El Nacional.

Oscar told us that fricandó comes from the 18th century, normally a treat for Sundays, the only day of the week when many families could afford to eat meat. He also suggest it's one of those recipes that only improves when eaten reheated the next day. So how about giving cooking it a go next Saturday?

Fricandó is also a great way to introduce the picada, a key idea in Catalan gastronomy. A picada is a sauce created in a pestle and mortar used to give a final touch to dishes before serving.

Ingredients for the fricandó (to serve 4):

  • beef - 500g / 17.5oz
  • flour - 100g / 3oz
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • garlic - 2 cloves
  • passata - 33ml
  • red wine - 1 glass
  • brandy - splash
  • mushrooms - 50g / 1.5oz
  • chicken stock
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

You could use white wine if you've got a bottle open, Oscar just prefers it with red. The mushrooms are traditionally moixernons, known as St George's mushrooms in English. If you don't have passata, you could substitute a bit of tomato puree or a small amount of canned tomato.

Ingredients for the picada:

  • hazelnuts - 30g / 1oz
  • garlic - 1 clove
  • parsley - 2 sprigs
  • chocolate - 20g / ⅔oz
  • slice of toast - 1

Recipe

  1. Slice and fry the mushrooms in olive oil in a large pan
  2. Once browned, remove them and set them to one side
  3. Cut the beef into slices (see video), and lightly coat it in flour and salt
  4. Fry the beef in more olive oil in the same pan
  5. Once the beef is browned, remove it from the pan too and set it to one side
  6. Deglaze the pan with a splash of brandy
  7. Finely dice the pepper, onion and garlic and add them to the same pan
  8. Fry them, mixing occasionally, until they've taken on some colour
  9. Add the wine, then the tomato
  10. Mix everything together and bring it to the boil
  11. Add the beef back to the pan, then add chicken stock to cover everything
  12. Create the picada by crushing the ingredients together with a pestle and mortar
  13. Bring it to the boil, then add the picada
  14. Finally, return the mushrooms and simmer for five minutes
  15. Season to taste and serve
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