The country of Andorra is one of the smallest in the world, nestled high in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain and home to the proud Catalan people.
Created under a charter in A.D. 988, the present Principality was formed in A.D. 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Spanish/Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell and the President of France.
Trinxat is perhaps the most famous dish of Andorra and shares several characteristics with the Irish dish colcannon, including both potatoes and cabbage. It also includes both bacon and fatback, which makes perfect sense in a country where grazing land for cattle is at a minimum and pigs can be more easily raised.
Trinxat is a Catalan word meaning “chopped”. Since Andorra is part of the larger Catalunyan area, it’s to be expected that there are variations on this basic theme in the surrounding regions. The recipe is for trinxat de la Cerdanya, the most commonly encountered kind — a hearty mash of bacon, potatoes and cabbage, fried in a skillet-sized cake and garnished with fatback crisps.
I have modified the basic recipe to include smoked Spanish salt, which I find adds a delightful new dimension to the flavor. I serve Trinxat with my version of Spanish Romesco sauce, which is atypical but again makes for a multi-layered symphony of flavors!
Romesco is a nut and red pepper-based sauce originating from Tarragona, Catalonia, in Northeastern Spain. It is typically made from any mixture of roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive or sunflower oil, bitxo peppers (similar to New Mexico chiles) and/or nyora peppers (a sun dried, small, round variety of red bell pepper).
Flour or ground stale bread may be used as a thickener or to provide texture. Other common ingredients include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar and onions.
This is my personal take on Romesco and I find it particularly delicious.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
Smoked Spanish salt – buy it here
1 2-lb. savoy cabbage, tough outer leaves discarded
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled
9 thick slices of meaty salt pork or bacon
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 ½ oz. fatback, rind removed, thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper
Flowering thyme sprigs
The Hirshon Romesco Sauce (Catalan Pepper Sauce) – Salsa Romesco
2 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera) – buy it here
1 ½ tbsp New Mexico chili pepper powder
½ tbsp Pasilla chili pepper powder (if unavailable use Ancho)
1 roasted red pepper (pimentón), skin and seeds removed
1 head of garlic, cloves separated
1 dozen almonds, blanched and peeled
2 dozen hazelnuts, skinned
1 sprig of mint, chopped
1 slice of bread, toasted
1 tbsp Chervil (or use parsley for the classic version of the recipe)
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
Bring two pots of generously salted (with kosher salt) water to a boil over medium-high heat. Place the cabbage in one and potatoes in the other; lower the heat in the cabbage pot and simmer until very tender, usually 45-50 minutes: boil the potatoes until they are tender, usually about 25 minutes if you’ve left the potatoes whole, 15-20 minutes if they’ve been quartered.
Drain the potatoes, allow them to dry off briefly over low heat, and then transfer to a large bowl.
Drain the cabbage in a colander, and allow to cool slightly; then pull out and discard the core, and drain again, pressing the cabbage to release water. Add the cabbage to potatoes, and mash together with a potato masher. Season to taste with smoked salt, and set aside.
Working in batches, lightly brown the bacon or salt pork on both sides in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat; then drain and let cool on paper towels. Crumble into bits and add to the cabbage/potato mixture. Pour off the fat and wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes; then add oil and garlic to the cabbage mixture, stirring in well.
In the same skillet, heat ½ the fatback until fat is rendered and the thin slices are crispy (remove and reserve crisps). Add half the cabbage mixture, and flatten into a ½”-thick pancake. Cook over high heat until a bottom crust has formed and the trinxat slides easily in the skillet, 5-10 minutes.
Invert a large plate over skillet, and carefully flip trinxat over; then slide it back into skillet, browned side up. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until bottom is browned, 5-10 minutes. transfer to a platter.
Repeat the process with remaining cabbage mixture to make a second trinxat. To serve, cut each trinxat into thirds and garnish each with fatback crisps and flowering thyme.
For The Hirshon Romesco Sauce:
Roast the tomatoes and garlic in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Skin the tomatoes, cut them in half, and remove the seeds. Skin the garlic cloves.
Put the tomatoes in a food processor with the garlic, pimentón, almonds, hazelnuts, mint, bread, chervil, and part of the olive oil. Process until you have a smooth puree. Beat in the remaining oil, vinegar and pepper powders.