Cocido Madrileño

Cocido Madrileño is a whole meal, traditionally served as three courses.

Cocido madrileño (Spanish: [koˈθiðo maðɾiˈleɲo]; “Madrid stew”) is a traditional chickpea-based stew from MadridSpain. A substantial dish prepared with meat and vegetables, it is most popular during the winter but is served throughout the year in some restaurants. Initially it was a dish for humble people, but it started to climb in society thanks to its inclusion in restaurant menus. The chickpea was included in the Carthage age, and later it was used in medieval age in Spain.ño

I’m back! I’m not quite sure where the month of February went, but apparently I didn’t involve very many beans- at least not any new recipes to share here. There was a period of waiting for an ingredient I had to order online, and then just…. well…. Sometimes you don’t feel like eating beans.

Cocido is a type of dish common all over Spain, Portugal and their former colonies. The word derives from cocer, to cook, so I suppose technically any cooked food could be a “cocido”, but it specifically refers to a stew of meat and vegetables, often including beans of some sort. While a number of the dishes that I have included in this blog could probably be considered a “cocido”, the most famous one that actually goes by that name is the Cocido Madrileño , the version from Madrid.

The history of this dish reportedly goes back to a Jewish dish from the middle ages, called adafina. In the 15th and 16th centuries as Christianity began to spread through the region and we got the Inquisition, Jews who had converted started including pork in their stew to prove their allegiance to the church, and eventually it became a dish that everyone in Madrid, and across Spain, enjoyed.

It’s a classic winter dish with beans, meat and bones simmering for hours, and takes the idea of a “one pot meal” to a whole new dimension, as it is traditionally simmered in one pot, but served as three courses, called vuelco, or in English “overturns”, because you tipped the pot to get the various part of the meal out. You start with the broth everything was boiled in, as a light consommé, often with some noodles or rice added, and then serve the beans and vegetables, followed by the meat. Or maybe the meat first and then the vegetables. Other recipes just leave it at two courses, keeping the meat and vegetables together, or put all the platters on the table at once so your guests can mix and match. If you’re just feeding your family, or not feeling fancy you can always just serve it as an all encompassing single course stew.

Of course modern tastes and kitchens have led to some adjustments. Several of the recipes I looked at, and the method I chose to follow, actually wind up using three or four pots, as the cabbage and potatoes are cooked separately from the rest of the dish, which helps prevent overcooking what are probably the most sensitive ingredients in the dish, and also keeps the harshest of the boiled cabbage flavor out of the rest of the dish. A number of them also cooked the sausages with the cabbage, feeling that putting the chorizo in the main pot overpowered the other flavors. Once the cabbage and potatoes are cooked they also get a brief sauté with some garlic and paprika, which does substantially help the flavor over plain boiled cabbage.

Oh my god the broth… I could care less about the noodles, but the broth is rich, savory, and full of flavor. The rest of the dish… It’s warm and filling, but honestly I was a little underwhelmed. The beef and chicken seemed dry and flavorless (as I recall now, almost every recipe stressed looking for a well marbled cut of beef… I don’t think there was much fat on the end of the brisket I threw in), and even the vegetables and beans seemed a little bland. I actually think that the flavors have improved somewhat the next day as leftovers, (Except for the broth, which sadly has lost a little of it’s wonderfulness- probably because I cooked all the noodles at once instead of only making as many as I would eat in one sitting) and I’ve adjusted the recipe I share with you to check your broth for salt earlier in the cooking process to ensure that there’s time to add more and have it absorbed into the meat. I can also say that adding the beef and chicken into my bowl of soup helps with the dryness as well.

I purchased a center cut chunk of serrano ham from La Tienda* . (You can also get fresh cooking chorizo and morcilla blood sausage from them.) It’s about 5 times more ham than I needed, but I didn’t have anywhere nearby to get a chunk of it, and it was probably cheaper, per oz, than buying several packages of sliced. I’m sure I’ll find something to use the rest of it in. Serrano ham is similar to Prosciutto, so if you can find somewhere that slices their own prosciutto and will sell you a chunk you could use that in a pinch, although I think there is a difference in flavor. If I was serving the dish as a single course where the ham can just break down into the stew I would probably have just used sliced, but that wasn’t what I was looking for here. Short of buying a whole leg of serrano ham (with range from about $150 for the cheapest ones, to a couple thousand dollars each for quality ones from traditional producers) I couldn’t find anywhere to get a serrano ham bone, so I just used the American ham bone I had in the freezer.

Apparently in Madrid you can buy special mesh bags to put your beans in, so that they can be removed from the pot when they are perfectly cooked. I didn’t have such a thing, and don’t think my beans were overcooked, but that does emphasize the importance of monitoring everything, especially in the last half hour or so, and pulling the various elements out before they become over cooked. My brisket took another 30-45 minutes after the other meats were cooked before it was tender. The carrots would have been mush by then had I not removed them.

Some of the recipes I looked at called for cutting the marrow out of the bones, dicing it and either adding it to the broth or garnishing the beans with it. My bones weren’t specifically sold as marrow bones, and proved to not really have much in the way of easily accessible marrow, so I skipped that part.

Cocido Madrileño

Serves: 6-8
Prep: ~30 minutes
Cook: ~2:30
Total: ~3 hours, plus soaking time

2 ½ cups dry chickpeas
2-3 cans chickpeas

6 oz. slab bacon
½ lb. pork belly
6-7 oz. serrano ham
1 4-inch ham bone (preferably serrano)
1 lb. beef or veal marrow bones
1 lb. beef brisket
1 lb. beef stew meat
1 lb. beef shank
8 cups water, or as needed

1 medium onion, peeled 
2-3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1-2 bay leaves

2/3 lb. chicken thighs
½ stewing chicken, cut in pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 leek, cut in 2 inch chunks
1 small turnip, peeled.

½ large savoy canbbage, cored chopped in 2 inch pieces. 
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
¾ teaspoon salt
2 fresh Spanish chorizo sausages
1 morcilla sausage

1 ¼ Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Paprika, to taste

1 ¼ cups fideos or vermicelli noodles

1 pork leg
1 cup baby carrots, in place of big carrots
⅓ lb. smoked ham, in place of serrano
⅓ lb. smoked ham hocks
Fresh herbs to garnish (parsley or tarragon)
1 lb. veal in place of fresh beef
1 pigs trotter

Tomato Sauce (Optional):
1 pinch ground cumin
1 ½ Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, minced
10 oz diced tomatoes

If using dried beans, pick through them for bad bean or foreign objects. Rinse and drain, then cover with about 2 inches of cold water and leave to soak overnight.

The next day place bacon, pork belly, ham, bones and beef in a large stock pot. Add about 8 cups of cold water, or enough to cover the meat, and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to to top. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. 

Drain your soaked chickpeas and add them to the pot (If using canned chickpeas, add them with the vegetables in the next step). Stick the cloves into the onion and add it to the pot, along with the peppercorns and bay leaves. Continue to simmer for about 45 minutes, adding hot water if necessary to keep everything covered. 

Once the chickpeas are just starting to soften, taste the broth and add salt if needed. Add the chicken, carrots, leek and turnip (along with canned chickpeas, if using). Continue to simmer for another 45 minutes or so, until everything is tender. (If some elements are cooked faster than others you can remove them and set them aside so they don’t over cook). 

Meanwhile, put the cabbage and potatoes in another pot and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Pierce the chorizo a few times with a toothpick to prevent it exploding, add it, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, until potatoes are tender and sausage is cooked. Using tong or a slotted spoon transfer cabbage and potatoes to a bowl, and set chorizo aside. Add the morcilla to the hot water, and let it sit, off the heat, for about 10 minutes to cook through. 

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan and sauté the garlic for a minute or two, until it begins to brown. Add a generous spoonful of paprika and immediately add the cabbage and potatoes to the pan. Mix well and sauté for 5 minutes or so. Keep warm.

Return any items you have removed and give them a few minutes to warm up, then, using a slotted spoon, start lifting items out of the pot and placing them on serving platters. Discard the onion, and put the meats one one platter and the beans and vegetables, including the cabbage and potatoes, on a separate platter. Cut the meats, sausages and vegetables into smaller pieces for ease of serving.

Ladle enough of the broth for the number of bowls of soup you wish to make (add some of the cabbage cooking water if desired) into a smaller pot and bring the it back to a simmer. Add the noodles and cook according to package directions. Serve as a first course or alongside the platters of meat and vegetables. Accompany the meal with good bread and lots of Spanish wine. 

Optional tomato sauce: 
Mix all ingredients and allow your guests to spoon it over their beans or meat as desired. 

*I receive no compensation for mentioning this product.

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