Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Feast for St. Ignatius Loyola

This week we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, mystic, preacher and founder of the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius was born in the family castle in Gipúzkoa in the heart of the Basque county of Spain. I have always been fiercely proud of my Basque heritage and take special pride in the two great Basque saints, St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier.

Five years ago I had the privilege of traveling to the Basque country in northern Spain with my mom and younger sister. One of the highlights was a visit to the the aforementioned Loyola family castle and Basilica there. These are located in the town of Azpeitia, in the province of Gipúzkoa where Iñigo López de Loyola was born in 1491. To find out more about the family history and Basque influence on St. Ignatius you can read "The family history and childhood of Iñigo."

The Basque people are known for their hospitality and gastronomic prowess. The Loyola family crest includes two wolves on either side of a hanging cauldron, symbolizing hospitality. What better way to celebrate the July 31 feast than with a traditional Basque meal.

Basque cuisine is revered all over Spain and the rest of Europe. The cuisine is simple and frugal yet delicious - nothing is wasted, all the fruits of the hunt and harvest are used. I considered the classic specialities of angulas (baby eels), patas de cerdo con callos (pigs feet with cow's stomach), lengua (tongue), rabo de buey (oxtail - or you can use the tails of slain fighting bulls!) and settled on a few recipes that were likely to actually be eaten by your families (and mine).

Salad with Vinagarette
1 large head of loose leaf lettuce
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion rings

For extra flavor rub salad bowl with garlic clove. Clean lettuce and pat dry, break into bite sized pieces. Add onion rings and refrigerate.

1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup sweet wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
salt to taste

Place ingredients in jar. Shake and refrigerate until just before meal.

Sheepherder Red Beans

Wash two cups red beans (small red bean , not kidney, if you can find them). Cook in four quarts size kettle until tender on medium heat (or to save time use 4 cans canned red beans- I've found at Kroger). In fry pan cook 3 strips bacon or salt pork, one medium onion chopped, salt and pepper to taste. Add to bean mixture with one 8 oz can of tomato sauce and simmer for at least an hour.

Chicken Breast with Garlic and Parsley

These breasts are seasoned with a typical Basque mixture of parsley, garlic, and olive oil.

2 whole boned, skinned chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
About 6 Tbsp. olive oil

Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 4 thinner pieces. Lightly sprinkle the pieces with salt and set aside. In a small bowl mix parsley, garlic, and 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Rub the mixture on both sides of the chicken pieces. In a large skillet heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. of oil over high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and cook 2-3 minutes. Turn them over and raise heat to high and cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat again and cook until cooked through. Increase ingredients accordingly if cooking for more that 4 servings.
And of course, a nice loaf of artisan/peasant bread is always a staple to round out the meal.

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  1. Thank you, Mary. I was looking for a recipe for this feast day, and yours look perfect!

  2. Thank you so much Mary!!! I have been trying to figure out what to make to celebrate the day (since it is also the anniversary of my son's baptism) and this sounds like the perfect menu.

    Have a wonderful feast day!

  3. More here:
    Let me know if you are interested in linking sites.
    Food & liturgy - that works :-)

  4. Mmmm...that chicken recipe is delightful! I posted a few pictures here: