The authentic Riojan menu served at The Society's Festive Dinner was based on traditional dishes, handed down from mother to daughter, rarely having a set formula and hardly ever formally written down. The following recipes are based on information kindly supplied to us by Muga's house chefs, Nieves Diaz de Medina and Maria Rosario Arconada, to enable members to recreate some of these dishes at home.
You won't need to import all the ingredients, lock, stock and barrel from the region, as the bodega did for our special dinner - everything you'll need below can be bought here.
To complete the experience, serve with a wine from the bodega such as Muga Rioja Reserva
Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
In Rioja and Navarra, locally-grown piquillo peppers, short, stubby and deep red in colour, are roasted over vine clippings, wrapped in newspaper to let the steam loosen the skins, and then peeled. Here it's easier to buy them in jars from a delicatessen or good supermarket, not only because the work has been done for you, but also because they are rarely to be found on the vegetable counter unless it's a very specialised one.
- 12 roasted piquillo peppers
- 200g. minced beef
- 200g. minced loin of pork
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- a small bunch of parsley, chopped
- 3 tablespoons plain flour
- A splash of milk
- Salt and pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- A pinch of nutmeg
- Olive oil for frying
Mix the two minces together with the crushed garlic, chopped onion and chopped parsley. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and gently heat the meat mixture. Stir in 2tbs of the flour, a pinch of nutmeg and enough milk to loosen the mix slightly. Stir well and continue cooking until the meat is done. Season to taste and cool. Tease open the drained peppers, fill them very carefully with the meat mixture and push closed. Spread the remaining flour on a plate, and roll each pepper in it, shaking off any excess. Then dip them in the beaten egg. Deep-fry in very hot olive oil until brown.
Pochas a la Riojana
This hearty casserole of pochas (locally-grown butter beans) with pork and piquant chorizo can be mild or really spicy depending on your choice of chorizo and smoked paprika, both of which are sold in sweet or hot strengths.
- 500g large dried butter beans
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 large leeks, white part only, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2-3 links chorizo sausage, sliced
- 3-4 meaty pork spare ribs
- A tablespoon of good-quality olive oil
- A small onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot, as you prefer)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the beans overnight, drain and rinse. Put the ribs, chorizo, chopped onion, garlic and leeks in a casserole, along with some water. Boil for 10-15 minutes. Add the beans, along with enough cold water to cover, and bring back to the boil. Bubble rapidly for at 10-15 minutes, removing any scum from the surface with a ladle. Turn the heat down to the simmer, cover and cook for 80-90 minutes until the beans are tender.
To complete the dish, heat the olive oil in a pan, add the sliced onion and fry until translucent. Sprinkle on the smoked paprika and fry for a few seconds more. Add this to the casserole.
Serve in a deep bowl with some crusty bread.
Spring lamb stew a la Riojana
- ¼ litre of good olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Saffron (a few strands)
- Sea-salt & black pepper
- Fresh parsley
- 1 dried red pepper, finely chopped
- ½ bottle of Muga white wine
- 500g of spring lamb, cubed
In a deep casserole brown the meat in the olive oil then add, finely chopped onion, garlic, bay, saffron, parsley, sea-salt & black pepper. Cook over a medium heat until coloured; add the wine and enough water to cover. Continue to cook over a moderate heat until the liquid has reduced and the meat is tender (approx 1½hr). Lastly add the red pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve in deep round plates accompanied by good bread(and of course some good friends).
Torrija - bread & butter pudding a la Riojana!
- 1 pint of whole milk
- Piece of lemon rind
- 2 vanilla pods
- 4 slices of good quality day-old white bread
- 1 tbsp of vanilla sugar
- 2 eggs
- Sunflower oil for frying
Boil the milk for ½ an hour in a large saucepan with the vanilla pods, the lemon rind and sugar; cut the bread into rectangular pieces of the width of 2 fingers approx. Once the milk is cooked put in the bread and allow to cool. Beat the eggs and dip the bread in the egg mixture. In a frying pan, both sides of the bread in hot sunflower oil for a few minutes. Take out, drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with vanilla sugar over the top.