The hundred candles were about to fall when Casa Montañés, an illustrious sausage and cold meat house in Alcalá La Real (Jaén), with 96 years of age, she seemed doomed to lose her family identity. Three generations of truffled turkey, carnival stuffing, sausages and a dozen other sausages that had been part of the lives of hundreds of Alcalaínos -and other neighboring towns- whose decline threatened on the horizon.
until Rubén Montañés, journalist by profession and radio lover, He refused to accept part of the design with which time wanted to close this family business founded by his great-grandfather. “I took over the company in 2016, when I bought it from my uncles, who were still in charge but already had to retire,” he says.
“In fact, my aunt (aunt’s name) had to have retired earlier, but she wanted to wait for her brother to leave the business at the same time,” she explains. With that family roots and with nonconformity as a flag, Rubén did not think too much about taking over the reins of the workshop despite never having had culinary training.
“All the products I knew them because I had grown up with them and there were things that he did know, but he didn’t know the exact elaboration ”, he is sincere. For that reason, it was necessary to ‘steal’ a few more months from his aunt, who “was with me from September to December, teaching me the recipes and making the sausages with me”, He illustrates.
Parking the waves
“I did not want to drop something like that, despite knowing that he was very sacrificed,” he illustrates when he recalls that 2016 in which doubts did not stop appearing, but where he felt the call of his surname. “Casa Montañés has been in the memory of Alcalá la Real for many years, and also in the towns of Granada and Córdoba, because we are in this area where the three provinces are very close”He adds.
There was no lack of domestic spool. “Dew (his wife and now in charge of the commercial part) was the one who supported me and the one who had no doubts about staying with Casa Montañés”, He admits.
Thus he parked his radio work, although he still does some programs on the local station, and also He opted to stay alone with the workshop, thus setting aside the possibility of also maintaining the store where the sausages were sold.
“The family adventure it started with a grocery store where everything was sold, but soon my great-grandfather Valeriano began to make sausages with local recipes that have been made since we don’t know when ”, Rubén was sincere by phone.
From post-war catering to pioneers of wedding salons
“Years later, my grandfather Cayetano would give a Boost the business by setting up a wedding hall where these sausages were always present, but it is not the beginning of the adventure ”, he assures.
“He knew the recipes and, in a time of great famine, weddings were something much more austere. Then they called him of farms or farmhouses where maybe a pig was slaughtered for the wedding and how he knew how to make sausages, I was going to prepare them and serve the food, as if it were a catchering ”, he confesses.
Well into the sixties, that pilgrimage to the countryside was a weekend martyrdom. “The whole family worked during the week and on the weekends they traveled to cover those weddings, so my grandfather decided to set up the first wedding hall in Alcalá la Real ”, he explains, where logically the sausages from Casa Montañés were not lacking.
In the eighties it was the turn of the third generation, that of Aunt Angeles, Uncle Antonio and Valeriano, Rubén’s father, who focused on the workshop and the store, getting rid of the wedding hall. “There was more competition, the brand was well positioned, it gave to live and the living room also meant working on days off and weekends ”, synthesizes the heir to this small home emporium.
So until our century in the decades that now occupy us, where There was no lack of interest outside the house to take over the signature. “They made many proposals to my uncles to buy Casa Montañés, especially when they retired, but they preferred that it remain in family hands,” he confesses with a point of pride and admiration.
From carnival stuffing to truffled turkey
Although the chacinero building of Casa Montañés was built on less than a dozen recipes such as carnival stuffing, truffled turkey or shredded tongue, now the company has expanded the offer with a score of references, where the stuffed cold cuts take the palm.
In those stars of the house, all made with products of the maximum possible proximity, be it pork, beef or turkey, the secret is in the balance, the spices and also in the homemade character of each one of them. “We do not use additives or preservatives,” explains Rubén.
Only lean parts, top-quality ingredients and lots of care are part of this selection of cold cuts that can be tempered and eaten in thin slices. This is how you discover the marbling, the spices and the wicks that make these pieces juicier.
“Onion, garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, saffron threads, onion … All kinds of spices”, says Rubén about the flavorings that give shine to his meats that can also be eaten hot. “Some, like loin loin, can be cut thicker, heat a little and serve with a sauce“he suggests.
“We also do homemade precooked and frozen such as flamenquines, croquettes, meatballs, prepared dishes… ”, illustrates Rubén, which serve to prop up the display of cold cuts that have made them famous.
“What we are best known for is the truffled turkey and the carnival stuffing [una interesante terrina con azafrán que, por fortuna, se come todo el año], although what I like the most, and what gives more work, is the tufted tongue ”, he clarifies.
Meanwhile, a style that resembles the Coca-Cola formula. “The recipes are only known to me and two other people who are with me in the workshop, although there are details that only I know, because the ingredients have no mystery as they are all natural, but the quantities or the time of adding them do change, ”he says mischievously.
They also make pâtés, giblets, cured sausages and, if running a centennial business was not enough, in 2021 they have dared to recover the pulse of the hotel industry opening a small tavern in the center of Alcalá la Real.
“As we are left without our own point of sale, although we have expanded the commercial network in the area, We decided to set up this tavern where we serve our products, but where there is also cuisine and which also serves as a showcase for other local products such as the craft beers from Tierra de Frontera or the wines from the Marcelino Serrano wineries ”.
103 years of circular economy that is woven with the same wickers as four generations ago and that continues to revolve thanks to the nonconformity of a journalist who saw the future beyond the airwaves.
Images | Montañés House
Directly to the Palate | The cherries of Jaén that are strained in the most famous liqueur chocolates in the world
Directly to the Palate | Marcelino Serrano, the electrician winemaker who has put the wines of the Sierra Sur de Jaén on the map