February 5, 2019
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Seville’s Sacrilegious Sandwich
MontaditosdePringá-1

One of Seville’s most popular tapas, the montadito de pringá, is loaded with boiled Spanish staples from the region’s home-cooked stews. But the swine-packed sandwich sheds light on a dark past.

Step up to any bar in Spain’s southern town of Seville, and among the fried fish and potato omelets, you are sure to find the montadito de pringá. The miniature sandwich comes hot and crispy off the panini press, filled with a smoky layer of shredded pork and just enough belly fat to coat your mouth for the next swig of icy Cruzcampo. If you go to the right place, the paprika-stained grease bleeds through the rich filling—leaving every surface of the bread soaked in a porky coating without impeding the toasted crunch. This is Mom’s home cooking, but done on the street.

Pringá, the bar or home cook’s boiled mix of meat—pork shoulder, beef roast, chicken thighs, a hefty portion of pork belly, chorizo, and a blood sausage called morcillais finely chopped and stuffed into the middle of the bread, creating the montadito. The five-bite tapa is exactly what you, and every other Spaniard, want in your empty hand while standing in a crowded bar with a drink in the other.

The sandwich, which has existed in some form since the 13th century, has just as much to say about Spain’s past as the 500-year-old Gothic cathedral looming over Seville’s Moorish palaces and ancient Jewish neighborhoods. Before Spain’s conquest of the Americas, the Christians of the northern part of the Iberian peninsula battled the Moors between the 8th and 15th centuries for control of the region and established what we know today as Spain. Seville—one of the prominent towns at the time and only an hour from the southern coast—fell to the Christians in the 13th century, and the new reign of Catholic kings over the residing Muslim and Jewish occupants was, to say the least, unforgiving.

Sephardic Jews were banished from the country in the 15th century, facing three options: convert to Catholicism, get out of town, or face death. At the beginning of the 17th century, the remaining Muslims living in Spain suffered the same fate.

Many converted Muslims, called Moriscos, and baptized Jews continued to practice their religions in secret but faced constant scrutiny. Outward symbols of conversion became key to superficial acceptance. In many instances, this came down to pork. Government inspectors would storm in on the suspected Jews and sniff out traces of heresy. If there wasn’t pork on the table, the Jews’ conversion was deemed a sham, and they could be burned at the stake.

As a survival mechanism, Muslims started to eat pork. Jews started hanging cured hams from their windows. They cooked their vegetables in lard. And they threw ham hocks, pig bones, and chunks of belly into their sacred lamb, garbanzo, and vegetable stew called adafina. The meat, or pringá, was eaten separately, and the garbanzos and broth were used for a week’s worth of enriching stews and soups, cooking grains and veggies, or sipping on its own. Willingness to take down the tender swine pulled from the stew showed their suspecting neighbors they had done away with their porkless ways and were truly devoted to the church—or at least devoted to staying alive.

Every Spanish grandma holds ever-so-tightly to her own version of the recipe, but you can choose whatever meat you fancy, or finally use up that can of beans hiding in the pantry. Stuff the tender meat into toasted buns for a platter of montadito de pringá tapas at your next party. Use the rich broth to cook potatoes and vegetables, and with a handful of garbanzos, you’ve got yourself a savory winter stew. The traditional version of the dish gives you full freedom to use whatever odds and ends you have on hand—though in Spain, pig is still king.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken thighs or legs
  • 8-10 ounces pork shoulder, pork knuckle, or pork hock
  • 8-10 ounces beef shoulder roast
  • 5 ounces pork belly
  • 3 ounces fresh fatback
  • 2 medium pork bones, about 9 ounces
  • ½ pound dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight
  • 1-2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces fresh chorizo
  • 4 ounces fresh blood sausage (morcilla) in casing
  • 6-8 molletes, teleras, ciabattas, or kaiser rolls, split

This sandwich doubles down on its use of less-common pork products. If you can’t find fresh fatback, or just aren’t into blood sausage, leave them out or replace them with a different animal protein. Heck, take it back a few centuries and keep the swine out altogether—just make sure you compensate for the fat.

  1. Drain soaked garbanzo beans. You should now have a heaping 3 cups.
  2. Rinse and clean chicken, pork, and beef cuts and place into large pot. Fill pot about 2 inches from the top with water, ensuring the contents are completely covered. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Once water reaches a boil, skim off the foam from the top. Let boil for another 5-10 minutes and skim off the next layer of foam that rises.
  4. Add garbanzo beans, 1.5 tablespoons of salt, and lower heat to medium-high. Place the lid on top, leaving a small opening so steam can escape. Cook for 1 hour undisturbed and check to make sure too much liquid hasn't evaporated. If the water level has noticeably lowered, add a cup or two of hot water and continue cooking for another 30 minutes.
  5. Add chorizo and morcilla and cook 30 more minutes. Taste for salt and add a pinch or two more if needed.
  6. After 2 full hours, the meat should be close to falling off the bones, and you should be able to easily pierce it with a knife. Remove from heat. First, using a slotted spoon, scoop all meat products out of the broth and onto a plate to cool. This is your pringá.
  7. Then scoop garbanzos into a bowl to cool, leaving the broth in the pot.
  8. Remove chicken from the bones, shred the beef and pork, and finely chop the fatback and belly. Discard casings from chorizo and morcilla, chop into small pieces, and mix with the meat and fat.
  9. Fill rolls with mixture and heat in skillet over medium-high heat until toasted, flipping to crisp both sides.
  10. Serve with potato chips and a light Spanish beer. The broth left in the pot can be used to cook large pieces of vegetables, potatoes, rice, or noodles. You can throw the garbanzos back in for a simple stew or use any leftover pringá to fry up crispy croquettes.

Megan Lloyd

Megan Lloyd is a freelance writer, cook, and recipe developer. Though originally from Houston, she currently resides in Sevilla, Spain.

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