English: Cocido madrileño, a spanish dish. Por...
English: Cocido madrileño, a spanish dish. Português: Cozido madrileno, um prato espanhol. Español: Cocido madrileño. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every morning I teach English to three extremely cute Spanish children and I was privileged to be invited over for lunch yesterday by the two families. When asked what I would like, my response was ‘algo muy español‘ (something very Spanish). Their response was a cocido (hot pot) which Spanish women everywhere brew up, but is a speciality from Madrid.

There is a Spanish song called Cocidito Madrileño (little stew from Madrid) which goes ‘all the charm and the spice, that a woman’s love puts right, into the cocidito madrileño.’ This song is very fitting as each mother, wife or grandma has their own twist and charm on the classic dish. Even the two mothers who cooked for me yesterday had very different variations, one being from Madrid and one from Seville. Therefore I was lucky enough to have both a madrileño and an Andalucian version of the pot (the more the merrier!)

Every version varies with basic ingredients of chickpeas, carrots and cabbage and a choice of meats. This family chose huge chunks of jamón, pork belly, torcino (veal shin) and chorizo all cooked up in a cocido (big pot). Having been brewed for several hours in the pot, the meat fell apart (except for the chorizo which was cooked separately so as to not over power the flavour). The difference was that the madrileño variation was brewed with the jamón bone whilst the Andalucian version used a white bone from the cow knee. All of this makes a salty and very tasty caldo (broth). The dish was absolutely superb: salty, diverse and very hearty! I had two helpings: one of each variety and I only refrained from having more because I didn’t want to appear like a greedy little English girl!

The cocido is very charming and fun as every individual has their own way of consuming it in different stages. I ate with two couples and each person had their own special ritual. Nuria separated the chickpeas, the veg and the meats from the caldo in various dishes. Her husband ate the soup first with chickpeas in, then took a bit of the other meats and ate this separately with bread. On the other hand Raquel had the caldo with bits of meat and potatoes followed by a plate of chickpeas topped with olive oil and vinegar. Nuria took a bit of everything and put it all in to the caldo together to make a broth. Being madrileña herself, I decided to copy her way.

I left feeling very full of food, charm and love, just as the song suggests, and consequently passed out for two hours! (Adapting to Spanish siesta culture!)