Our Spanish extensive course students ask us what “calçots” are and how they are cooked and how do you eat them. Given it is now the right season, Versión Original didn’t want to miss the occasion to eat the very much appreciated “calçots” and… there we went on a “calçot” feast!
A “Calçotada” is a whole day activity
“Calçots” are a type of onion which are grown in the area of Tarragona, its origins are particularly in Valls. It is a seasonal vegetable, you can eat it from October to March, so it’s a winter vegetable. Its name comes from “calçar”, which means that while it is growing, earth is poured along the stem to obtain a long, white onion.
Getting “calçots” ready to be cooked
“Calçots” come the area of Tarragona
“Calçots” are also cooked differently from other vegetables. They must be cooked directly on the flames and not just on the grill. The most outer layers must be burned until they become black. Then they are wrapped in newspaper in bunches of 25-30 “calçots” keeping them warm for a few more minutes before eating them.
“Calçots” must be cooked directly on the flames
They must look burned
After cooking them, they are wrapped in newspaper
“Calçots” become real “calçots” when they come together with a delicious sauce – for many people the sauce is the secret of a good “calçotada”. This sauce is very similar to ROMESCO sauce and in many cases that’s what it’s called. The resulting mix of ingredients makes it irresistible: tomato, garlic, ñoras (a type of pepper), hazelnut, bread, oil and vinegar. But its secret is getting the right proporcions and letting it stand for one day -or that’s what I’ve been told! The truth is there are as many different sauces as people making them, but when you taste a sauce like the one we had yesterday… you wish you could take the cook home with you! If we get the recipe, we will share it with you in another blog post.The stronger the fire, the better
People get together early in the morning to set the fire and prepare the “calçots” making a whole event out of the “calçotada”. In the remaining embers we cook the meat as a second course, as long as you didn’t have to much bread and sauce! All of this must be washed down with a good wine from the Terra Alta or Priorat or Penedès or… the one you like best!
The sauce is the most important element in a “calçotada”
Dipping “calçots” into the sauce
We enjoyed an authentic “calçotada” last weekend and I hope all Versión Original students know now what calçots are and I hope they liked them!
In the remaining embers we cook the meat