Cocido madrileño, or how the Holy Inquisition helped to invent a dish

As I wrote in Spain meets Korea there is not just one Spain but many. Basque people, Catalonian people, Galician people, Andalusian people, Madrilenian people…They all have their own language, culture and history.

However, Spain is rapidly connected to siesta, sangría, paella or matadors.Spain is siesta, sangría, paella or matadors, but much more. All these clichés and stereotypes are either born from a lack of knowledge or a simplification of reality.

Spain is diverse and we are here to show it. So welcome to a new culinary lab-adventure! How about a lively, colorful, virtual tour of Madrid, complete with a tasting of cocido madrileño? Welcome on board!

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Cocido Madrileño, in La bola Restaurant in Madrid

Last Thursday, April 16th we started start the morning with a cocido madrileño cooking demonstration.

Cocido madrileño is a pork meat, potato and chickpea stew that dates back to the Middle Ages. This fragrant, rich hearty stew is Madrid’s signature dish.

At its most basic a cocido, a stew or a pot-au-feu (French) consists of a big pot (known as olla) where you put everything (vegetables, meats, legumes) in and let it boil.

In fact, every country has its pot-au-feu!, says Leah Messinger (Afar, Spain’s Progressive Dinner: Cocido Madrileño) and Cocido Madrileño is Spain´s pot-au-feu.

Madrid

The region of Madrid

I have read some cocido madrileño recipes. I give more references at the end of the post. The one below is from Spain info:

Ingredientes del cocido diapo

Photo credit: Petra Sjögren

And do not miss the video of this English chef settled in Madrid, talking about Madrid and cooking its signature dish, the cocido.

I really like cocido very much, I find it tasty and a life guard-dish!: you can eat for two-three days with the leftovers of the cocido. There is nothing to be
is thrown away and you can “re-invent” the dish every time. For example, after first day’s feast you can make ropa vieja, a fried mix of chickpeas and meat (a speechless sacrilege to be committed: ropa vieja with a fried egg!). I love the croquetas made from the cocido’s meat, they are really tasty. Finally I like the Pringá too, which is made with the fried meat leftovers and bread.

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Photo taken by Petra Sjögren.

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Photo taken by Petra Sjögren

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Mónica García, Spanish, incidental cook, blogger and friend.

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Our kitchen in Hillside Residence.

And while the cocido was over the flames, we began our journey back in time to the 16th century – the era of the Spanish Hapsburgs (Austrias in Spanish), the royal family. In this web you can find some tips to plan your visit to Austrias Madrid.

But, let’s have a pinch of history…

You might like to know that the chickpea was introduced in Spain many centuries ago, very likely by the Carthaginian, however the Spanish word for this legume is garbanzo, from the Mozarabic word arbanço.

Cocido madrileño is probably the most representative dish of Madrid’s cuisine. Like many other Spanish dishes (e.g. Paella Valenciana) its origins are humble. Being prepared by the popular classes firstly, it is only at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th that the cocido became popular among the high classes and even the Royal Family! –however, ingredients were not the same and by the quantity of meat you might recognize the “royal” cocido.

The cocido is believed to be created in the late fifteenth century as an evolution of the Ashkenazi Jewish cholent (טשאָלנט), (literally: -chaud-, hot, and –lent-, slow)- and the Sephardic (Spanish) Jewish dish adafina, a hearty long-cooking dish of chickpeas, garlic, lamb and seasoned stock, prepared the night before the Jewish Sabbath.

As the pot could remain over a low flame without an attendant, the violation of Jewish religious law was avoided.

Under the power of the Inquisition, the traditional recipe of adafina underwent a change (now you understand from where does the title come).

The Marranos (Jews living in the Iberian Peninsula who converted or were forced to convert to Christianity), in order to prove the sincerity of their conversions, had to incorporate pork (lard, bacon, chorizo (pork sausage) and morcilla (blood sausage) into their adafines, shaping the stews from which cocido madrileño and its dozen of variants are natural product.

So by the late 15th and early 16th centuries, all these stews were called, interchangeably, adafinas, hamin (or cholent, in Hebrew), trasnochados (in Spanish) cocido (this was commonly used by the late 1500 and it received its appellation madrileño during the 17th century) or olla podrida (that literally means “rotten pot” or hodgepodge). The olla podrida manchega (native from Castilla La Mancha)–whose base was pork and beans- was a popular dish in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Cocido madrileño’s popularity was growing enormously. It was one of the most consumed dishes in Madrid and the most popular, after callos a la madrileña, the Madrid-style tripe. Cocido was included in menus of all kinds of establishments like taverns.

Later, after the Civil War its popularity decreased. Nowadays cocido madrileño is mostly a homemade dish for special occasions. It is more pricey and you can find it not only in bars –offered as menu del día (set menu)-, but also in hotel restaurants as a gourmet specialty.

And then it was time to enjoy the violin recital by Sammy Park and to serve the cocido on the table…

Cocido Madrileño cartel en coreano

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Sammy Park. Photo taken by Petra Sjögren.

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Sammy Park. Photo taken by Petra Sjögren.

And we did it traditionally. You have to overturn the pot and the ingredients of cocido must be served separately. Each serving is known as vuelco (overturn or twist).

The first course or vuelco was a soup served with noodles -the stock of the cocido is drained and the noodles (fideos, Spanish) are cooked in it. In the second vuelco, the chickpeas come in a serving dish with the vegetables–the sautéed cabbage, the carrot and the turnip (not the onion which is added to the broth to give it flavor, but it has to be later removed). And then with the third vuelco, the meat is served.

20150416_123323_LLSBut where to go to have cocido in Madrid?.

Playing with the idea of the vuelcos, an recent article in El País (New twists on Madrid’s most famous dish), introduces us the best places where to have cocido madrileño.

For the fourth year running, the capital has staged a six-week event to promote cocido Madrileño (the route of the cocido madrileño). Twenty-six restaurants have taken part and the article describes us the unique take of each of them.

Ruta del cocido 2015

the Fith Cocido Madrileño Route

But apart from the new restaurants that Camille Lavoix and Andrea Nogueira help us to discover, the classic places are still a marvelous option to enjoy this hearty stew in Madrid.

For example, you can go to Lhardy, one of the first and oldest restaurants of Madrid, located in the centre of Madrid in the Carrera de San Jerónimo street, close to the Congreso de los Diputados (the Spanish Parliament).

Casa LhardyYou can also try Malacatín established in 1895 as a wine bar and located in a much more modest neighborhood, as La Latina, and that on Sundays hosts the El Rastro flea market.

You might love too the Tavern La Bola, located near the Palacio Real where thousands of cocidos have been served since 1870.

We finish our session by thanking Ñ Magazine …..

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Revista Ñ Corea and some participants. Thank you!

… and learning about the Korean artist Kim, Ki-Hoon(김기훈) whose Sunev installation was in our test kitchen.

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SUNEV by Kim, Ki-Hoon (김기훈) What do you see?.

Please, find more recipes and information about this hearty stew at Wikipedia, Afar Magazine or Havers to table.

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