I recently won a pack of Spanish extra virgin olive oil in a food photo contest, of four different varieties. So I decided to make an oil tasting with some homemade bread, a sourdough one, now that the weather is not so hot and I can use my oven without suffering a heat stroke in my own kitchen. Besides the time has come to stop publishing foreign and sweet recipes and make something Spanish to the core, as well as simple and nourishing, to put my new oil to good use: magras con tomate… before I go on a diet. Yes, my dear little children, I’ve repeatedly commited the sin of gluttony along the past summer and this summer in particular has placed me in the launchpad to hell. So I compulsorily need to lose some body bacon before the next great culinary orgy: Christmas. That’s the story of my life… inflating and deflating.
The bread recipe isn’t relevant here. Only the magras recipe is essential for mankind. Magras con tomate are typical from Navarra and Aragón, two historic regions in Northeastern Spain and they consist of some large Spanish serrano ham slices of varying thickness, lightly fried in oil and then eaten on some large bread toast with a sugary-winey sauce and tomato sauce on the side, or simply heated in the tomato sauce after frying, without the bread and the wine sauce. I prefer the first version. By the way, don’t mistake serrano ham for Ibérico ham. The latter comes from a native breed of pigs and it’s more expensive (and succulent) than simple serrano ham. For this dish regular serrano ham can be used. No need to buy a very expensive ham, as you’re going to fry it.
For making these magras con tomate I recommend to use a nice, thick, homemade tomato sauce. The net is packed with recipes, so just choose the one you prefer. And homemade bread is a good addition too. If you’re not willing to make your own bread, buy a good one, but not whole wheat bread. The whiter the better.
Magras con tomate
Yields 4 servings:
- 4 large slices of serrano ham or more, as needed to cover the bread slices
- 4 large bread slices, not too thick
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 glass white wine
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Thick tomato sauce to taste
- Serrano ham gets very salty when fried, because of the water loss, that causes the salt to concentrate. This can be avoided by soaking the slices in tepid milk for 10 minutes before frying. Then drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. I don’t mind the saltiness, so I don’t do it. Pour a couple tablespoons oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the slices on low heat. No need to overdo it, just let them change color, then take out of the pan onto a plate. Cover to keep them warm.
- Lightly fry the bread slices in the rendered fat, set aside and keep warm too.
- Without turning off the heat, add the sugar and stir to caramelize. If the bread has soaked all the fat, you can add some drops of oil. When the sugar is toasted, turn off the heat and add the vinegar and wine; cover the pan as the liquids will splash a bit. Then put on low heat again and reduce the sauce while the caramel dissolves in it, for 2-3 minutes.
- Place the ham on the bread slices, drizzle with the hot wine sauce and serve with the warmed tomato sauce on the side, as a dip. Enjoy!
I think the sweet-sour sauce on the salty ham makes a fantastic combination. And don’t think my tomato sauce is radioactive, its orange color comes from a lot of onion and carrots I use in the making.