Also known as ‘blat picat’, ‘olleta de blat’, ‘wheat stew’ or ‘scorpion wheat’ (in some places in La Mancha) it is, without a doubt, one of the oldest dishes of Mediterranean cuisine, since that wheat, the vine and the olive tree make up the ‘Mediterranean trilogy’, basic elements of our diet. (The ‘grañón’, according to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, is the cooked grain of wheat).
Its origin must be sought in Roman times when each soldier was provided with a measure of wheat for their food in the field and, it is not difficult to deduce that, when they wanted to consume it, they boiled it with the vegetables or meat that nature put to use. their reach in the place where they will be.
Today we continue to find this stew in the province of Alicante (and more specifically in our region) as a model of ‘culinary archeology’, although its preparation is increasingly rare, given the difficulties of its preparation. Wheat grains must be previously moistened in plenty of water to be able to remove the skin that covers them, since they must be chopped (without crushing them) in large stone mortars that were available in each house and that today appear as decorative objects ignored by many its usefulness.
The dish evolves from an almost vegetarian frugality to a dangerous succulence, passing through an intermediate that is advisable.
- Put a pot on the fire with plenty of water and cook the chickpeas, wheat and stalks. Next, in a frying pan, fry some ñoras, remove and chop them and, in the same oil, an onion and a couple of minced tomatoes, pouring this sauce into the pot. Next, add the meat, the potatoes and carrots cut into pieces, a piece of cabbage cut into strips and some balls of pepper, salt and saffron, flavored to taste with peppermint, oregano or piperela *.
- In some places, the cabbage is substituted for chard or spinach.
- The cooking time depends on the quality of the chickpeas and wheat. In any case, the cooking should be over low heat for at least a couple of hours and until the stew is at its point, rectifying with the broth until its texture is soupy and mellow.
* Piperela (‘pebrella’ in Valencian) is also known as ‘thyme sauce’, used to marinate olives.