Don’t go crazy buying tomatoes. You will only need one if you want this recipe to be enjoyed by about four people. And it is that this dish so characteristic of La Mancha cuisine does not have tomato as its main protagonist, as if it could be Andalusian gazpacho, but rather rabbit and chicken meat is the essence of this traditional dish. In addition to these two main elements, half a kilogram of each will suffice, to make this dish you will need:
- The already mentioned ripe tomato.
- Garlic cloves, an onion and half a red pepper.
- Extra virgin olive oil, black peppercorns, a bay leaf and salt to taste.
In addition, to accompany this dish it is typical to make some ashen cakes, which are made with wheat flour, salt and hot water.
The steps to make the manchego gazpacho
We are talking about a peasant plate that is even mentioned in the book Don Quijote of La Mancha. A perfect spoon dish that requires chunks of meat they are well cleaned and chopped, without any type of skin or fat remains. Once we have this essential part ready, we brown it in a saucepan with olive oil. When the pieces of meat are sealed on both sides, we cover with water and add the garlic cloves (about four), the pepper, the salt and the bay leaf.
If you are one of those who prefers the traditional way of cooking, it will take a little over an hour in which the meat is cooked perfectly and tender. Once we have it ready, we reserve the broth and go to crumble the meat (be careful not to burn yourself) and we forget its bones.
How the cooking is going to take us time (in a pressure cooker it would barely take 30 minutes), we can take the opportunity to fry the onion, garlic and red pepper cut into very small pieces on the other hand. Sauté for a few 15 minutes over medium heat and we add, well cut into slices, the mushrooms. We let the vegetables cook for another 10 minutes.
Then, add the tomato that we have previously peeled and chopped. We continue cooking another 10 minutes before adding the shredded meat. Finally, we add the broth that we had reserved and check the salt level in case we have fallen short.
When we see that the sauce has reduced, we include the Ashen toast in not too large pieces and we let, with the fire off and the remaining heat, finish making this traditional La Mancha stew.
How do we make the ashen cakes?
If we are not lucky enough to be able to buy some homemade ashen cakes in some town of Castilla-La Mancha, we can try to make them ourselves. We will need flour, hot water and salt to make the dough, which should be smooth and manageable.
Once we have the ideal dough, we divide it into several parts to give it the chosen size and stretch them with a roller until get them to be thin, about 2 millimeters thick. Meanwhile, we preheat the oven to about 250ºC. We then put the tray to bake the dough on a special paper and let the toasts cook. Something that it will take only 5 minutes.
When we take them out of the oven, we can add them to the casserole where our gazpacho manchego is being finished.