Cocido Madrileño, or just cocido, is one of Spain’s famous national dishes. It is cooked in a vast cauldron that simmers all day, barely bubbling. Earlier, the households would make it every day as poached meat used to be the main ingredient of middle-class kitchens.
A lot comes out of the cauldron. First of all, there is the caldo, a clear stock rich in different meat juices. It is famous as a clear soup with sherry. It is also used in many other Spanish dishes, and can also be saved. It is often served with a few spoons of riced cooked in it as the first course before the actual cocido.
The different meats are the most important thing, chosen for their diversity. Salt meat, fresh meat and preferably smoked sausage all have to be there, as it has to be tender and full of flavor, which can only be achieved through long and low cooking. The stock is also richer thanks to the meat bones and trotters.
Lastly, the pot contains vegetables. Chickpeas, the traditional unifying element in all Spanish ollas (stewpots), present in Spain since the ancient times. With them also come the potherbs, in the form of onion, garlic, and lee, each with the precise adding time and function. Fresh vegetables are here as well, to make it all colorful and cheerful when platters are finally served, and as an entrée to the meats.
The dish made from the following portions of ingredients serves eight people. The recipe is of intermediate difficulty. The preparation time has to be more than a day, as the chickpeas have to be soaked overnight, and the whole cooking part takes several hours.
9 oz. dried chickpeas soaked overnight
1 lb. cured brisket of beef or silverside in one piece
9 oz. salt pork belly, streaky bacon in one piece or fresh pork belly.
1 lb. 4 oz. knuckle gammon bone, with some meat attached
1 1/2 lb. beef marrowbone, sawn across
1/2 boiling chicken
1 split pig’s trotter
1 whole garlic bulb
2 bay leaves
8 crushed black peppercorns
1 small onion, studded with 2 cloves
1 1/2 lb. Savoy cabbage, quartered
2 carrots cut in big pieces
2 short leeks
1 lb. new potatoes
2 chorizos or other smoked sausage
1 morcilla or 7 oz. black pudding
Cover the salted meat (brisket or silverside, salt pork belly or bacon and gammon knuckle) with cold water and leave to soak several hours before cooking.
Get a large stockpot, 6 liters at least. Put in all of the meat, skin side down alongside the beef bone. Put the chicken and trotter on top. Add the garlic bulb, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover with water. Bring to a simmer. Make sure to skim off any scum that rises.
Drain chickpeas, add to the pot, cover and simmer on the lowest possible heat for one and a half hours. Check occasionally. Add the onion stuck with the cloves halfway through. No other vegetables are to be added in.
Put the quartered cabbage and all the vegetables and sausages in a second casserole. Remove any plastic skin from the black pudding. Cover the ingredients with water and add a little salt. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are ready.
Drain vegetables and sausages. Slice the sausages, and arrange the vegetables decoratively on a platter. Put sausage slices on top. Serve before the meat or as a side dish with the meat.
Take out the meats and collect the chickpeas together. Remove marrow from the bone and slice it into the chickpeas. Slice all meats and arrange them with chickpeas on a platter. Moisten them with broth.
Usually, the family tradition is the one governing the serving. Some families like a rich and splendid display with everything served at the same time on multiple platters. This is usually for some feast day. During regular times, the vegetables precede the meat, alongside sausages.
When the meats and with chickpeas are served without the vegetables, pickles, gherkins, guindilla, and pickled onions go well with it as a side dish.