Fricandó Recipe, a Classic Catalan Beef Stew

This recipe for beef fricandó is a classic of Catalan cuisine. It is a beef stew that is cooked with mushrooms, mainly with moixernó or perretxico (St. George’s mushroom); similarly, fairy ring mushroom, boletus or saffron milkcaps can be used. Thus, it is an ideal dish for autumn because of the availability of fresh mushrooms. Along with the latter, the key to its success lies in the thin cut and floured beef, a good sofrito and the picada.

The origins of fricandó are believed to date back to the Middle Ages, typical of urban areas or people with high incomes. In addition, the word fricandó comes from the Latin frigere, which in Italian means to fry, since the meat is floured and fried. The recipe for this dish appears for the first time written in an 18th century recipe book, “Avisos e instrucciones para el principiante cocinero”, by José Orri. Since then, the fricandó appears in all Catalan cooking books.

Ingredients for the Fricandó recipe:

  • 500 g thin beef steaks (approximately 1 cm thick)
  • 500 g of mushrooms (St. George’s mushroom is typical, but you can use 70 g of dehydrated or canned)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150 ml of white wine
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Flour

For the fricandó picada:

  • 1 small piece of toasted bread
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 8 almonds or hazelnuts
  • 2 teaspoons of the sauce or broth itself

How to Make the Fricandó:

  1. Peel and chop the garlic cloves, as well as the onion in small pieces.
  2. Salt and pepper each beef steak on both sides and pass them through a plate with flour.
  3. In a big casserole, pour a jet of olive oil so that it covers the bottom. Put it on a medium heat and brown the steaks on both sides. Then take them out of the casserole and put them aside.
  4. Add the onion and the garlic to the same casserole, with a little salt, and fry it at a medium temperature so that the onion becomes tender and transparent.
  5. Then add the peeled and grated tomatoes. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes so that the tomatoes reduce, thicken and the sofrito is formed.
  6. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Depending on which ones you choose, the preparation is different. If they were fresh, you have to clean them well; if they are dehydrated, follow the instructions to hydrate them in water. In case they were canned, wash them and drain them.
  7. Then add the bay leaves and the beef for the fricandó. Turn up the heat and add the white wine, leaving it until the alcohol evaporates (2-3 minutes).
  8. Fill the casserole with water until it covers the meat and let it cook. You have to put on a high heat until the sauce starts to boil and then reduce it to a low heat for 1 hour until the meat is very tender. Rectify the salt in this step as well.
  9. To prepare the picada of the fricandó, put all the ingredients in a mixer or mortar and crush them. Then, add the minced meat to the casserole and let it cook for a few more minutes.
  10. Finally, if the sauce is too thick, you can add a little water or leave it a little longer on the fire if it is too liquid. When it is ready, you can enjoy your fricandó.

You can serve the fricandó with rice, which is very common in Catalonia.

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