Cocido Madrileno

Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 at 3:16 pm

This will always be one of my favorite (and funniest) meals…

Taberna de la Daniela Taberna de la Daniela

When I was in Valencia, I met a man who was taking photos of street art.  He lives in Madrid so I asked if he would email me some suggestions for local, traditional restaurants to try there.  Taberna de la Daniela (Calle del General Pardinas 21) was on that list, specifically recommended for its Cocido Madrileno.

I went to Taberna on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  It was busy, with a lot of people waiting for tables, so I squeezed into a spot at the end of the bar.

The menu listed a house soup for 3 euros.  I asked the bartender if it was Cocido Madrileno and she said “yes.”  In no time, she came back with a small bowl of broth with thin noodles.

Not Cocido Madrileno

Now I didn’t know much about the cocido, but I knew that there was some meat involved.  I asked the bartender, “Cocido Madrileno?”  Something flickered across her face and she went back to the kitchen.

A few minutes later, she came back with a humongous platter.  On it, there was plenty of chickpeas and cabbage, along with pieces of potato, pork belly, bone marrow, beef thigh, blood sausage, chorizo, chicken leg, and ham hock.  I was completely astounded.  She cleared tapas from the bar to make room for the plate.

Cocido Madrileno

Then, she took my small bowl of soup and went back to the kitchen.  When she returned, she brought a sizeable tureen with her.  It contained the same broth and noodles as was in the first bowl, just twenty times as much of it.

Cocido Madrileno

People were looking at me.  I turned to those closest and gave my frequent explanation/excuse.  “Estudiante de cocina,” I told them, which means “student of the kitchen.”  Then, in English, “I didn’t know.”  Everyone thought it was hilarious.  (It was.)

Cocido Madrileno My Cocido Madrileno Bib

I ladled some broth into my bowl.  I took a heaping spoon of chickpeas and another of cabbage, and then piled some meat on top.  I started with the chorizo, blood sausage, and what I thought was a meatball.  I took the potato, too.

Cocido Madrileno - Bowl #1 Cocido Madrileno - Bowl #2

I tasted the broth first.  Everything on that platter had simmered away for hours to create incredible richness and complexity.  As I broke into the chorizo, its paprika burst out and mingled with the broth.  Likewise, the cinnamon and clove sweetness of the blood sausage added yet another dimension.  What looked like a meatball was actually a delicious, dense dumpling, made from breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, and parsley.

I made myself a second bowl.  The pork belly, chicken drumstick, and ham hock were all moist and delicious.  The only fault in the dish was a very dry piece of beef thigh, which I only identified through a game of animal-part charades.

As I ate (slowly and over the course of a couple of hours), I talked with the people around me.  There was a group from Bilbao who kindly instructed me on how to cook a cocido.  There was the gentleman who kept warning me not to eat too many chickpeas, miming gas so I would understand why.  When I was nearly stuffed, Manoj sat beside me at the bar and let me share a little with him.  It became a kind of community dinner, as cocidos are meant to be.

Cocido Madrileno Friends Cocido Madrileno Friends

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