You can’t turn a corner in Barcelona without coming across yet another hamburger joint. And if it’s not a standalone burger place, it’ll be a hip restaurant with hamburgers showing up somewhere on their menu. I was more interested in a more recent fad that owes its origins to somewhere more local. I was interested in botifarra, the large Catalan sausage that comes in a couple of varieties, some ready to eat and others requiring grilling. It was the latter type that featured at Butifarring, one of the first ‘fast food’ botifarra restaurants in Barcelona.

Butifarring is located very centrally on Carrer del Call right in the Barri Gòtic and the restaurant is only about a year old. The place is tiny with a bit of seating on the ground floor and more upstairs, though when I visited (twice over the holidays!) the upstairs area was always closed. There’s a menu printed on the wall but what’s available actually depends on the season and what’s not sold out yet; it’s best to take a look at the raw sausages themselves sitting in the chilled counter further inside the shop. You make your choices and pay using the fancy machine in the front and then you wait for your meal. It’s just like at any other fast food joint. Well, any fast food joint where the food is cooked in a Josper grill (an indoor charcoal grill) in the back.

Each grilled botifarra in a bun was €5-6 each. Here we tried their classic botifarra and their botifarra with escalivada – here the Catalan grilled vegetables had been incorporated within the sausage. Both were stuffed into a wonderfully toasted crusty roll and I opted for the optional cheese and crispy onions too. That extra choice turned out to be a wise one – the cheese adhered the botifarra to the bread and the fried onions added a great crunch. And the sausages themselves? Excellent! They were meaty and flavourful and so good as only charcoal grilled sausages are.

Entrepans

In addition to their botifarra, there are a couple of side dishes available. There’s salad and these patates al caliu, cooked potatoes that are chopped and roasted again in the Josper grill. Those potatoes were mighty fine with their homemade sauces – here we’ve perhaps gone a bit overboard with their aioli, bravas sauce and spicy ketchup.

Patates al Caliu

The size of the place doesn’t lend well to lingering after your meal – it’s more of a fast food place. Still, it’s excellent for a quick but excellent bite. I need to go back to try the botifarra with calçots! Perhaps when I go back, there’ll be another Butifarring elsewhere in Barcelona – it looks like they’re getting ready to expand.

Butifarring
C/ del Call 26
08002 Barcelona

I’ve been very reliant on a certain German to see me through after nights out in the centre. Herman ze German is located near Trafalgar Square and is very convenient if you’re travelling from Charing Cross or Embankment stations. They open till late…and the exact time seems to depend on the night and how many people show up.

I like their simple menu featuring only three types of sausages – Bratwurst (pork and veal), Bockwurst (smokey pork) and Chilli beef (spicy beef and pork). That said, I would love them more if they also served a Käsekrainer but I think that’s really Austrian. They also have meatballs but I’ve never visited when they had them available.

Currywurst

That’s a plain currywurst above. While I do like their sausages as is, in a bun with mustard/ketchup and crispy fried onions, their currywurst has to be my favourite. The curry sauce that comes slathered on top of the cut-up sausage comes in three levels of heat: mild, hot, and burner, but from what I could tell, I think there’s just one curry sauce and then varying amounts of a chilli powder sprinkle.

This is my usual order though – a currywurst with fries (it’s a little over a fiver altogether).

Currywurst with Fries

I have no idea how they make fries that are cooked with no oil. They don’t have the same texture as fried fries but you do feel less guilty eating these. Very addictive too when dipped in that curry sauce and do try to get them to sprinkle those crispy fried onions on top if you can.

Herman ze German
19 Villiers Street
London WC2N 6NE

Herman ze German on Urbanspoon

I had picked up a packet of the most delicious beef sausages from the Hardiesmill stand at the Real Food Festival last weekend (I’ve been buying from their stand each year – I also love their pastrami) and wanted to have them as the highlight of our dinner. Frying them and serving them as a main course as is was just too simple – I wanted them in buns…with caramelised onions, yeah! And how about some balsamic vinegar mixed in with the onions too?

Beef Sausages in Buns with Balsamic Caramelised Onions

They came out a treat and we wolfed them down in front of the telly. I could almost pretend that I had my own barbecue. Right. Anyway, the beef sausages themselves were fantastically flavourful and were lovely paired with  the sweet and sour onions. It looks like one can order them, as well as all their beef and cured beef products, from the Hardiesmill online shop.

Homemade Hot Dog Buns

The buns I made using this recipe; I halved it and made slightly smaller buns than the usual hot dog sized ones and ended up with enough buns for two dinners and a lunch. I accidentally overbaked them due to their diminutive size but they still came out with a soft crumb and a pleasantly crustier than expected outside.

Inside a Bun

Balsamic Caramelised Onions

Peel, halve and slice 4 large onions. Heat about 2 tbsps olive oil in a large pan/pot and dump in all the sliced onions. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir once in a while. To hasten their softening, slap a lid on for some of the time; however, you will want to slowly cook uncovered for most of the time. Don’t forget to stir once in a while! If the mixture starts sticking, add some water and scrape it up. If the mixture starts browning quickly, turn the heat lower. Patience, patience. Stir some more. Has the mass shrunk a lot? Good, you’re almost there. Season with salt and about a teaspoon of sugar. Stir and stir. When they’re brown and soft and caramelised (about 40-45 minutes), take them off the heat and stir through about 3 tsps of a good balsamic vinegar.

Now use those onions! Slice a hot dog bun lengthwise but not all the way through. Smear both cut sides with some Dijon mustard. Add a couple of tablespoons of caramelised onions and nestle the cooked beef sausage on top of them. Serve.

With the weather getting colder and colder in London, we’ve been using our oven more and more often. This is yet another one of the weekday meals I make after I get back late from work. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it has the added advantage of keeping us extra warm thanks to the use of our oven! All the vegetables are winter vegetables but do feel free to add other root vegetables suitable for roasting – this is more of a guide than a precise recipe.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Sausages

Roasted Root Vegetables with Sausages
serves 2

1-2 large sweet potatoes
1 large parsnip
1 large carrot
1 red onion
6 sausages (I used pork and sweet chili relish sausages)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190 Celsius.

Peel the sweet potato, parsnip and carrot and then chop them into chunks (carrot smallest, parsnip next size up, and sweet potato into the largest size). Toss into a roasting pan. Peel and cut the red onion into half and then slice thinly. Toss the onion also into the pan. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir them around to get them well coated and then place the roasting pan into the oven.

After about 15 minutes, give the vegetables a stir and pop the pan back in. After another 15 minutes, stir the vegetables again, and then nestle the sausages among the vegetables and back into the oven it goes. Again at the 15 minute mark, flip the sausages and stir the vegetables as best you can. The dish is done in yet another 15 minutes. The sausages should be brown, the vegetables tender and the onion brown and sticky.

Botifarra amb mongetes

Botifarra amb mongetes is a classic Catalan dish of sausage with white beans – though they are a particular kind of bean that is quite long and cylindrical. Not much to report in terms of a recipe: grill sausages of your choosing (I used a 97% pork sausage that was lovely and meaty and I think are most like Catalan sausages) and boil your beans. I found a jar of these boiled beans at a local shop; they were a Spanish brand and were definitely mongetes, as Blai confirmed, but any other white bean would be a good substitute. And eat the beans with lots of extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top!

Swiss Chard

We had bledes (Swiss chard) on the side, you know, for health reasons. Gotta eat our veggies! Anyway, I made them in a sort of Spanish style, using some of that lovely pimentón, the smoked paprika from La Vera. Now for this dish I can provide a recipe.

Spanish-Style Swiss Chard
adapted from Food and Wine magazine
serves 2.

a large bunch of Swiss chard
extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
1/4 – 1/2 tsp Pimentón de la Vera
1/4 cup chopped canned tomatoes (optional)
1 tsp sherry vinegar
salt and pepper

Slice up the entire bunch of chard, both stalks and leaves, and clean it all thoroughly. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the chard until tender. Drain and press out excess water.

In a pan, heat up a good swirl of olive oil and fry the garlic slices until golden. Add the pimentón and tomatoes (if using) and cook for a few minutes (less time if just using the pimentón). Add the Swiss chard and stir thoroughly, adding a little water if it’s all looking too dry. When the chard has been heated through, add the sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.