One of the most emblematic dishes of Madrileño cooking is a heavy winter stew known as Cocido Madrileño.
The stew is a hearty Castilian meat and chickpea dish whose origins can be traced back to the middle ages and is being promoted in the city´s 13th annual “Ruta de Cocido” of leading Madrid restaurants participating in the promotion.
Some food historians claim that this one-pot meal evolved from a simple peasant dish called Olla Podrida Manchega, but wasn’t until the 17th century that it took on its specific Madrid name.
Food historian Maria Jose Sevilla says in her book Delicioso says there is ample evidence that the dish has its roots in a Sephardic stew called adafina–a Shabbat Kosher meal based on chickpeas, vegetables, and either hard-boiled eggs or meat such as lamb, veal, beef, or chicken.
The expulsion of the Jews in the 15th century meant that pork took centre stage in Castilian and Spanish cuisine and the arrival of the Inquisition meant that people were keen to be seen to eat it and indeed display it for fear of prosecution or suspicion of harbouring non-Catholic thoughts!
As a result many typical Jewish and Muslim dishes took on a distinctly Castilian air with converted Spanish Jews called Marranos and Muslims called Moriscos who started incorporating pork into their adafinas to prove themselves as Christians.
Over time, with the addition of lard, bacon, Serrano ham, chorizo (pork sausages) and morcilla (blood sausages), adafina reportedly became the dish that is now known as cocido madrileño. This substantial meal is traditionally served in three separate vuelcos or courses: the first one is a rich, flavorful stock with added noodles; the second vuelco consists of chickpeas and vegetables, while the meat is dished out as the third course.
Once commonly consumed during winter, cocido madrileño can nowadays be found prepared throughout the year in many of Madrid’s restaurants and taverns.
The Ruta de Cocido runs until the end of March where diners will enjoy a stew, generally served in three stages (soup, chick peas and vegetables, and meats) and the ideal plan to savour Madrid´s most typical dish and combat the cold weather with hearty, spoon dishes washed down by an equally strong red wine!