Hola, ¿cómo estás? It’s Chef Dani Garcia again. Sorry for having neglected the Manzanilla blog for the past few days; you know, at the end of the year, especially these big holidays, everyone seems to be snowed under with work and unable to take a breath for just a minute.
However, everything was well-prepared up to now, so today I have spare time to bring you a unique dish that carries the traditional traits of Southern Spanish called Gachamiga. This dish may be unpopular; however, it is worth its weight in gold in the cold, humid winter of this region, especially Murcia. Furthermore, it’s also a symbol of this area’s traditional agriculture.
- 200gr garlic
- 5l Water
- 1kg flour
- Olive oil
- Vegetables (Any kind, optional)
- Spanish Sausage (Chorizo or Butifarra, both are okay)
Unlike any other modern dishes, in which the garlic must be peeled, minced, and only used a little bit so as not to cover the smell of the dish; garlic is the main ingredient of the traditional Gachamiga. The garlic will be peeled (optional) and the cloves are kept to be fried.
Gachamiga Step-by-step Instruction
In case you don’t know, the reason why this dish is extremely special is its connection with the Southern farmers. It represents the union and the close-knit relationship among farmers working together; therefore, it is usually served in a giant non-stick pan, which can serve a portion for up to 10 people.
As a chef, I had a chance to learn about this region’s cuisine, have a meal with these plain farmers, and participate in the meal as one of 10 eaters enjoying that meal directly on that giant pan. So today, I will show you not only the step-by-step instructions to cook Gachamiga but also how to serve and enjoy it like a local, so that I can show respect to the root of the food.
Firstly, you must have a very large pan (if you don’t, you can completely use a normal pan at your home), then pour olive oil in and start heating it.
When the oil is heated and there are tiny bubbles on the surface, the next step is putting cloves of garlic in. When cooking this dish, Murcia locals will use a long ladle, and fortunately, I got one as a souvenir, so today I will try using it.
Stir cloves of garlic in 10-15 minutes and season a pinch of salt at the same time. Evenly stir in order not to burn the garlic, creating a burnt smell from olive oil, which may leave a bad impression when enjoying the dish.
There is an interesting fact about this dish. I bet you have never seen a dish whose ingredients are as basic and affordable as this one. However, it takes a long range of time to complete it, from an hour to half an hour on average. Southern Spanish tenants at Murcia or Alicante really adore this dish in spite of the cooking process since this will be a precious time when families can gather and take turns cooking Gachamiga.
When garlic turns yellow and the specific smell rises, it’s time we put them out of the pan and set them aside to serve with the dish after finished.
Now is the main step; pour half a kilogram of flour and evenly stir. If the olive oil left is not enough and the flour is too hard to mix, you can continually pour olive oil in until you can stir more easily.
When the flour mixture starts to be thicker like dough and turn caramel-like brown, add 100~200gr flour and repeat the stirring process – adding olive oil – stirring until there is no prepared flour left (you should adjust the amount of flour according to your family’s portion)
After having processed the flour, now you need the hand of a partner in your family, so seek help from a member of your family as you won’t be able to get through this step by yourself. Ask your partner to gradually pour the water, little by little while you are evenly stirring the brown dough mixture, and make sure it won’t be burnt or stick to the pan.
Stirring the mixture of flour and water is the hardest process of this dish because it demands skillfulness, strength, and patience. Pay attention to the dough’s constant movement so that its edges won’t be sticky to the pan. Also, make sure both sides of the dough are equally done by turning it continually like turning a potato tortilla. However, I think the result will certainly be worth trying.
The remainings are only patience and strength, all you need to do is just use the long ladle to stir the mixture of water and flouring being boiled at high heat. If you have an outdoor fire stove, it’s ideal to try cooking this dish as the process takes constantly an hour and to reach this dish’s perfection, this process must be nearly continuous.
Boiling the mixture at high heat is fuel-consuming when it comes to gas and electricity in modern kitchens, so only cook this dish when you have an outdoor fire stove.
While stirring, if the creamy brown mixture sticks to the edge of the pan because of the air bubbles, push them down. Avoid being burnt at the edge and waste no piece of dough even the least since that’s our patience, right amigos?
If you are tired, seek help from your partners; this is the beauty of the cooking and enjoying process of this dish in Murcica, which surprised me. What is more precious than being able to cook a dish yourself and believed by people? Chilling this process with a cup of hot chocolate on these winter days seems to be a good idea.
When the mixture completely turns brown and stiff (when stirring you feel like the whole mixture moves), the dish is reaching the finish line. Add delicious fried garlic to the mixture and evenly stir.
Now is a quite difficult step, especially for a large portion, for example, 1kg for a six-person dinner in this post. With smaller portions using less flour, it can be easier. Turn the mixture over so that both sides of it can be equally done. Turn it repeatedly, 5 minutes for each side. At the same time, use the long ladle to separate the mixture continuously, therefore, the evaporating process will be quicker.
When the food evaporates a certain amount of water and the mixture is similar to the soft part of the bread and not so sticky as it used to be, the dish is ready to be served.
This is a fascinating experience for me personally, with a traditional Gachamiga, served with some slices of bread, pickles and salt to refresh the taste, and of course, how can we lack a cup of hot tea during the humid winter in this region?
If you have a chance, enjoy this dish with your family or even cook it yourself and have a cozy time when gathering with your family, experiencing this basic but interesting dish. I hope all of you and your family will have a good time, ¡Nos vemos!
More Spanish Main Dishes To Discover
- Pan Very large one
- Long laddle
- Outdoor charcoal grill
- 200 gr garlic
- 5 l water
- 1 kg flour
- Olive oil
- Vegetables Any kind, optional
- Spanish Sausage Chorizo/Butifarra
- Preparing a large non-stick pan
- Peeling garlic, keeping in cloves
- Boiling olive oil, putting garlic in
- Stirring in 15 minutes, seasoning with salt
- Putting garlic out when it turns yellow and setting aside
- Pouring 0,5kg of flour in the pan, stirring and adding olive oil if needed
- Gradually adding flour until none is left, then adding water, stirring and turning evenly
- Adding fried garlic when the dough turns brown
- Repeatedly turning in 5 minutes and putting the mixture out
- Only try cooking this dish when you have an outdoor fire stove as the cooking process may consume a great amount of fuel
- Having partners is a big advantage. This can not only make the cooking process easier but also show respect to the root of the dish
- It will be ideal if you can afford a long ladle and utilize it when cooking the dough. And remember to constantly stir if you don’t want any burnt smell!