Luckily we absolutely adore it. Twice a week, we’ll harvest an entire sinkful of leaves for dinner, which barely makes a dent on the plants. Raab is an incredibly healthy leafy green, but it’s taken a bit of trial and error to figure out how to prepare it.
The leaves are too bitter and spiky for salads, and we think they’re at their best when twice cooked – we boil them first, then refry them. The bitterness is mellowed in the process, leaving delicious and interesting green leaves which absorb and complement other salty flavours.
Once a week, we make cime de rapa pasta, and last night we discovered that the dark green flavours also work brilliantly with chorizo…
Inspired by an episode of Rick Stein’s Spain, I fried sliced chorizos and used the residual paprika-flavoured oil to brown spatchcocks prior to roasting. I then created a version of Tanya’s tapas dish, adding onions, broccoli raab and Fino sherry, popping the roasted birds on top for the final presentation.
Pete said I was just looking for an excuse to use my fabulous 12″ (30cm) cazuela dish, and he’s probably right…
Here’s our recipe in a bit more detail, but like all dishes of this ilk, the quantities are loose and can easily be adjusted to suit…
- 3 spatchcocks, washed (if you wish) and paper towel dried
- 4 Spanish chorizos (see note)
- 1 large or 2 small onion(s), finely chopped
- one sinkful of broccoli raab leaves (freshly picked if possible)
- good splash of Spanish Fino (dry) sherry
Note: we buy our chorizos from Black Forest Smokehouse. They release a lot of oil and paprika when fried – if the ones you have don’t, you might want to add a little olive oil and/or paprika to the dish.
1. Preheat the oven to 200C with fan. Rub a little oil onto a baking tray (to roast the spatchcocks in). Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Prepare the raab by stripping the leaves off the stems if necessary (if the stems are very tender, they can be left in). Roll all the leaves together and chop them coarsely.
2. Rinse the cazuela in hot water to moisten it. Slice the chorizos into thick chunks, then add them to the cazuela and heat the pan up slowly over a gas burner. This would, of course, work perfectly well in a more robust form of cookware – the terracotta cazuela needs a gentle touch and seems better suited to a gas flame than an electric hotplate.
3. Cook slowly, gradually increasing the heat as required and fry the chorizos until most of the oil has been released. This takes a bit of time. Remove the chorizos with a slotted spoon and set aside.
4. Add the spatchcocks to the hot oil, cooking for a few minutes and turning them over to brown them on all sides. Move them to the prepared baking tray, breast side down, and pop them into the oven for about half an hour.
5. Add the broccoli raab to the boiling water and simmer for a few minutes until softened. To the hot oil remaining in the cazuela, add the onions and fry until soft. Drain the raab and add the leaves to the onions. Stir well, breaking up any clumps. Add a good splash or two of the sherry (or substitute a decent white wine) and allow the vegetables to cook down. Finally, return the chorizos to the pan, and cook for a few minutes more to allow all the flavours to mingle.
6. When the spatchcocks are done, remove them from the oven, and sit them on top of the chorizos and vegetables.
My sons ate a bird each (!) and Pete and I shared the other one. They were tender and delicious, despite being seasoned only with the oil from the chorizos. The star of the night though was the broccoli raab – the leaves took on the spiced oil and sherry flavours, and I found myself scooping out the leftover greens to eat on sourdough.
PS. I bought my Spanish cazuela at (of course) Chefs’ Warehouse. They have an assortment of sizes available at very reasonable prices.