Escudella (Andorran Meat Stew): Why I’m Surprised I’m Still Invited to Dinner Parties

Andorran Meat Stew

Escudella (Andorran Meat Stew), the national dish of Andorra, is a stew made with many different types of meats, vegetables and carbs. The exact contents of escudella can differ with each chef, but the most important component of the dish is the bone marrow bone that gives the stew its intense flavor profile. Be sure to personalize your Andorran meat stew by adding different cuts of meat, forms of grains and carbs, and starchy vegetables to your pot!

A Vagabond Year

I’ve lived a lot of places in the last calendar year… about a year ago, I was living on the west side of the state in Kalamazoo, Michigan for an internship. As the school year began, I transitioned back into life at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. I spent an incredible last semester at school and, before I knew it, packed up my bags and jetted off to Rome. I lived in Italy for a total of four months; four months that were undoubtedly the best months of my entire life. After that, I was homeless for a bit as I packed Europe for 6 weeks, living in the cheapest hostels that my euros could buy.

But, as it often must, the adventure came to an end. I re-packed my bags, boarded a plane, and moved home. I found a (great) job in my hometown, and I’m currently living with my parents while I start earning that big girl paycheck. I love my parents and I love my job and I love my hometown. But after almost six months of seeing new places and meeting new people and trying new things, it felt a little stifling to come back to “normal”. Trust me, I LOVE everything about my life right now. But still, I needed to do something new or meet someone new or try something new. If I didn’t, I was going to explode.

Finding Excitement in Normal

So in typical Alexandria fashion, I signed up for everything. I joined a dance class; I joined a photography class; I signed up for a half marathon; I started a (very time intensive) blog; I joined a bible study. I needed new things and new people and I needed them QUICK (in addition to my forever friends, who will always be in my life). And from that desperate need to find the new, I found my new favorite Tuesday night tradition!

Every Tuesday after work a group of ladies that I met at my bible study get together for a dinner party. We all bring a dish to pass and we sit and enjoy dinner together. We talk about work and relationships and our hobbies and life, and it’s wonderful.

What Does this Have to Do with Andorran Meat Stew?

I know that this was a long introduction and you’re probably thinking…. “But Alexandria… what does this have to do with Andorran meat stew?”

Well, I gave you this massive background for two reasons:

  1. So that you could learn a little bit about me, my life, my background, and my personality
  2. So that I could tell you about the weird, embarrassing thing that I did on my first Tuesday night dinner party

Okay, so my very first Tuesday night dinner party rolls around and, last minute, the person that was supposed to bring the main dish can’t come anymore. I had cooked Andorra the night before, so I come to the rescue by bringing an entire pot of Andorran meat stew for our main course.

The part that’s weird, though? This Andorran meat stew was made from (I think??) the leg of a pig. When I was preparing to cook this dish, I looked at my recipe and realized I needed a bone marrow bone. I asked the butcher at my local grocery store what he could provide to me. In response, he handed me a bone that I’m preeeettty sure was a pig leg.

I was nervous to feed my dish to my new friends, and even MORE nervous to tell them what was inside. But they were brave and gracious, and I’m not lying when I say that every single person at the table went back for seconds.

Andorran Meat StewMake This One…. Seriously.

The combination of meats, the heartiness of the broth, and the mixture of starches really bring this dish together. Your spoon (or your mouth) can’t possibly fit all of the many, many ingredients at once! That means each bite is completely different from the one before. In one bite you’ll get a meatball and beans and rice and peas. In the next you’ll taste chicken and noodles and potatoes and cabbage. Regardless of what combination goes in your mouth, it’s all delicious. And luckily, I have friends that were willing to try my bone marrow Andorran meat stew to find out that this was the case. And the best part? They must not have thought I was TOO weird, because they still invited me back 😉

I promise, if you try this soup, you’ll love it just as much as we all did. I can’t wait for you to prove me right! Let me know in the comments below what you think.

Escudella (Andorran Meat Stew)

Escudella is a hearty Andorran Meat Stew made with many types of meat, vegetables, grains and beans! It's signature quality is the bone marrow bone used to flavor the broth. 

Course dinner, Soup
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • .75 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 ham steak
  • 1/2 15 oz can chickpeas
  • 1 15 oz can white beans
  • 1/4 head of cabbage
  • 1 package cubed prosciutto
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 9 cups water then another 2
  • 2 bone marrow bones
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup long grain white rice (I used basmati)
  • 1/2 cup noodles in the shape of shells
  • 2 potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot on the stove, heat some olive oil. Roll the ground pork into meatballs and cook in oil for about 5 minutes. 

  2. Dice the ham, then put the ham, sausage, chicken, and bones into the pot with about 9 cups of water. The entire chicken breast can be placed in the water at once, as it will cook so much that it will easily shred itself. 

  3. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the soup simmer on the stove for two hours. 

  4. Remove the bones and then bring the rest of the liquid back to a boil. 

  5. Add in the rest of the ingredients (chickpeas, white beans, cabbage, prosciutto, peas, potatoes, rice, noodles, salt, pepper, and cumin). 

  6. Cook for another 30 minutes until all of the ingredients are cooked through (including the potatoes and the rice). 

Recipe Notes

Recipe copyright by Alexandria Drzazgowski, The Foreign Fork. For educational or personal use only. 

Andorran Torrijas (Dessert French Toast): A Successful Experiment

Andorran Dessert French Toast

Andorran torrijas (Dessert French Toast) are a special Catalan dessert specific to Easter time. Small pieces of bread are soaked in milk, dipped in an egg mixture and fried, and then rolled in cinnamon sugar. They closely resemble a dessert version of French toast.

Recipe Development Isn’t as Easy as it Looks

As a lot of you might recall from some of my Albania fails, I do not have the best track record with my own recipe development. Up until now, every time I had tried to create my own recipe, I ended up with something that made me wish I had just stuck with the original. It’s a good thing that I’m honest with ya’ll. And it’s a good thing that I REFUSE to give you a recipe that isn’t good. I’ll try mine a couple of times, but if it ends up that someone else’s is better, that’s what I share…. Which has pretty much been the case up until now.

 

A Successful Experiment

BUT, LET ME TELL YOU PEOPLE,  YOUR GIRL AIN’T A QUITTER.

And, finally, we found some success.

Torrijas (Andorran Dessert French Toast) are a Catalan dessert that are very popular during Easter time in Spain. However, because of Catalan influence in Andorra, they’ve made their way across the border! Typical torrijas (Andorran Dessert French Toast) are flavored with cinnamon and lemon, but I wanted to try something new. I’m a huge coconut fan and love pretty much anything that contains it. That, paired with wanting to use up some slivered almonds I had left over from Algeria is where I came up with these Andorran Coconut and Almond Mini French Toasts.

Andorran Dessert French ToastWhen I was cooking Andorra, I made a traditional version of this recipe along with my own. This way, I could do a side-by-side comparison to see which was better. Better yet, I could have my parents do a blind test to tell me which flavor they preferred. Low and behold, I won!

This recipe just screams “spring” to me. Light and airy coconut paired with fresh, crunchy almonds is a perfect dessert to consume on a warm April day. I loved them and I’m sure you will too.

Andorran Dessert French Toast
5 from 1 vote
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Torrijas (Andorran Dessert French Toast)

Torrijas (Andorran Dessert French Toast) are small pieces of bread soaked in milk, dipped in egg, fried, and then coated with cinnamon sugar and syrup. They are a perfect spring dessert, particularly popular during Easter.

Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 20 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf crusty, slightly stale bread
  • 2 cans coconut milk full fat
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 eggs
  • extra virgin olive oil for frying
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded coconut sweetened
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Bring the milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and almond extract to a boil. Let boil slowly for about 15 minutes. 


  2. In the meantime, cut the bread into slices. Lay on a flat dish, and pour the milk mixture over the slices. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes. Pour enough liquid that the slices are wet but do not break apart. 

  3. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a shallow pan on the stove. You know that the oil is ready for frying when you stick a chopstick in the oil and bubbles form around the wood. 

  4. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then dip the bread pieces into the eggs. Fry the slices in the oil about four at a time, making sure to cook both sides. Leave slices to rest on paper towel to absorb extra liquid. 

  5. Mix the remaining sugar (1/2 cup) with cinnamon, and roll slices in the cinnamon sugar combination. 

  6. Now make the syrup. Put the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture into a pot and add extra sugar to cover the bottom of the pot. Pour about 2 cups water into the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add 1 tsp of almond extract to the combination.

  7. Simmer for about 30 minutes, allowing the mixture to thicken. Once ready, pour over the torrijas slices, giving them a generous amount of syrup. 

  8. Top slices with shredded coconut.

  9. Let slices cool completely before refrigerating them, and then let rest in the fridge for about four hours before enjoying. 

Recipe Notes

If you do not want a coconut almond flavor, use regular milk and replace the almond extract with vanilla. If this is the case, also add the rind of one lemon to the milk boil! 

Recipe Copyright Alexandria Drzazgowski, The Foreign Fork. For personal or educational use only.

Pa Amb Tomaquet (Andorran Garlic Tomato Toast): Never Too Much Garlic

Andorran Garlic Tomato Toast

Andorran Garlic Tomato Toast (Pa Amb Tomaquet) is a fun and creative way to serve a maintenance appetizer. Tomato, garlic, olive oil, and salt sit atop fresh toast to create a scrumptious taste of Andorra that the whole family will enjoy creating! 

A Lover of Garlic 

For those of you that don’t know me too well, I’ll tell you a little fun fact: I’m a fan of garlic.

Actually, scratch that. I’m a big fan of garlic. I am a HUGE fan of garlic. I don’t think there is a single recipe on the planet that couldn’t benefit from a little extra garlic. Well… maybe cake. I don’t know, somebody try that out and prove me wrong, please.

ANYWAYS. Whenever I cook, I tend to use more garlic than the recipe calls for. Most of the time this is okay because a good majority of people feel the same way I do. But sometimes you get a guest who doesn’t like garlic that much, and then my love becomes a problem.

How to Make Andorran Garlic Tomato Toast

That is why this recipe is PERFECT. Andorran Garlic Tomato Toast (Pa Amb Tomaquet) is a perfect recipe for a family dinner because each person can personalize their bread to their own tastes.

To make this recipe, place crusty, fresh bread under the broiler to toast both sides. When the bread is an even brown, serve it alongside garlic cloves, halved tomatoes, olive oil, and salt. Each person takes their turn rubbing the halved tomato and garlic on the bread and then drizzling their desired amount of olive oil and salt.

Andorran Garlic Tomato Toast

Roasted Garlic

Usually the garlic cloves are served raw, but I chose to use roasted garlic to dress my bread. To do this, I chopped the top off of a head of garlic, drizzled it with olive oil, and roasted it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. This made the garlic a little sweeter and easier to spread.

If you have children, this dish would be a great way to start teaching them about Andorran cuisine! It is hands-on but simple (and only a little bit messy). Plus, kids will be sure to love the craft of creating their own bread!

Any way you slice it, this appetizer is bound to be a hit. And even better, as a host(ess), it’s about as low-maintenance as an appetizer can get. So cut open your tomatoes, roast that garlic, and then tell me how it goes (especially if you try this one out with your kids, please and thank you!)

Andorran Garlic Tomato Toast (Pa Amb Tomaquet)

Crusty bread topped with tomato, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Perfect to make with kids or serve as an easy appetizer at a dinner party! 

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf crusty bread cut into slices
  • 1 tomato cut in half
  • 1 head garlic roasted
  • olive oil to taste
  • sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut top off of entire head of garlic to expose cloves. 

  2. Place garlic head in one hole of muffin tin and drizzle with olive oil.

  3. Place muffin tin in oven and roast until garlic is hot and seems to slightly bubble (about 25 minutes).

  4. Turn oven to a low broil. Place bread slices on cookie sheets and broil until toasted, about 3-4 minutes on each side. 

  5. Place bread on table alongside roasted garlic (still in the head), halved tomatoes, olive oil, and a small bowl of salt. Have each guest assemble their toast with whichever ingredients they choose. Use a knife to remove roasted garlic from the head, and rub the entire half of the tomato on the bread.