This weekend was a friend of mine’s 40th birthday. As per tradition, he celebrates it in his brother’s Macia (farm house) in Manresa, 60km outside of Barcelona. His brother raises and breeds pheasants, but he also has a zoo licence due to all the animals he keeps there. I love going there, because it is very close to the city, but you feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere. It’s an hours drive and one treacherous 2km dirt road up the mountain to reach Cal Marquet, but truly worth it, just for the views alone. The actual building is almost 300 years old. The family have kept the structure intact, but modernized all the rooms. There’s an infinity pool, a sauna and a jacuzzi too. So, coming up here is a real treat!
This year he asked me to cater Friday nights dinner, and I immediately thought we should do it family style because it was 25 of us, and I didn’t feel like being in the kitchen the whole night and missing the party. I decided to make the Coca de Escalivada, because it is a very Catalan dish, and most of the guests were Catalan. There are many types of Coca, from savoury to sweet. Each city or region has its own version. I decided on this one because it is easy to make, since I was also doing Beef empanadas, cheese borek (turkish style patties), spring rolls, jerk chicken wings and blue cheese and caramelized onion sliders.
Coca is actually very easy to make, with very little proofing. The most laborious part really, is grilling the vegetables and peeling them. But honestly, I will definitely make this recipe again, maybe using different toppings, but it was delicious and so easy.
So here’s what you’re going to need:
300g bread flour
1 packet instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
50g shortening (not vegetable, lard, basically)
3 tbsp olive oil
120ml warm water
1 large red bell pepper
1 small eggplant
1 onion (I didn’t use it due to the birthday boy’s aversion to them)
1 can oil packed tuna, drained
6 large anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic
1 small sprig of thyme
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
pinch of salt
3 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp pimenton (smoky paprika)
In the bowl of a stand up mixer, combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the shortening, olive oil and water and mix with the paddle attachment on low-speed, until the dough just comes together. Now, switch to the dough hook, and mix on medium speed for 10 minutes. (If you don’t have a mixer, then place the dough on a floured work surface and knead for 15 minutes.) The dough should be smooth and pliable but spring back when it touched. Place in a large, well oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Put it in a warm oven (50 C) and let rest for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.
In the meantime, grill your vegetables. I put my eggplant directly over the burner, because it gives it an amazing smoky flavour.
Do this until the veggies are completely charred on the outside. Then place them in a plastic bag and let them sweat for about 10 minutes. When they are cool to the touch, peel them, and slice into 1 inch long slices. Set aside.
In a mortar, place the garlic clove, thyme, parsley and the pinch of salt, and mash to form a paste. Add the olive oil and paprika and mix well. Set aside.
When the hour is up, take the dough out of the oven, and raise the heat to 220 C. On a well floured work surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle, the same size as your baking pan. Lightly oil the baking pan, and place the dough on top, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let rest another 30 minutes.
Unwrap the dough, and place the red pepper and eggplant slices on top, in an alternating pattern.
This actually resembles the Catalan flag. Now, brush the top with the garlic paprika oil. Wait a few seconds and give it a second coat, using up almost all the oil, making sure the garlic and herbs are evenly distributed. Leave just a bit to brush after it’s out of the oven.
Place in the 220 C oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place the tuna and anchovies on top in alternating rows, and then brush with the remaining oil. Serve hot, warm or cold. It’s super versatile!
And now, here are some pics of the farm animals!
From my kitchen to yours,