A little Spain in your own backyard

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March 27, 2011 by paiday

Let’s imagine for a moment that you could be someone else. Not necessarily forever, but for a month or a week, or as long as you want . . .doesn’t matter. You might be asking yourself, “is this anyone alive or dead? past or present? young Hugh Heffner or old?” Again, doesn’t matter, this is really about me anyway.

Mine is easy. Anthony Bourdain. He’s witty, cutting, eats great food, and travels all over the world.

This past weekend, I was given the opportunity for a little Bourdain living, when my long time friend Julio invited me over to his home for traditional cocido español, a popular Spanish dish eaten throughout the country but especially so in Madrid and Extramadura. The name cocido is quite humble with the translation meaning “boil.” The dish consists of a stock made with chicken, beef, and salted pork, chickpeas, and then salads served alongside the meats and beans.

When making cocido, the chickpeas need to be of the dried variety and soaked overnight. The stock is made of water simmered with a beef soup bone, chicken legs, and smoked ham hocks. The meat is then removed and the chickpeas are added to the stock with fresh green beans for another simmer.

A rich, meaty broth surrounds homemade croutons for a first course in the cocido.

The best part of this meal was the interactive approach to eating. First, Julio served the broth, which we poured over homemade croutons. The broth would also be delicious served atop pasta, especially egg noodle pasta. After we finished our soup, he brought out a platter of the meats which had been used to make the stock, the chickpeas, and a bottle of olive oil. This is also the stage in the meal where it would have been appropriate to serve a tomato or red pepper salad.

A chickpea salad is served with a drizzle of olive oil. This would be a great opportunity to pull out the good stuff.

A chickpea salad is served with a drizzle of olive oil. This would be a great opportunity to pull out the good stuff.

We each started with a polite serving of each meat and spoonful of chickpeas with a minimal drizzle of the oil. But soon enough, self-control was thrown by the way side and liberal pours of oil were covering chickpeas, and we were mixing in salty pork chunks for good measure. It seems that what inevitably gets served along with cocido is good conversation and laughter. So, yes, I think if I had to choose, I would stick with my choice of Bourdain because when it comes right down to it, what’s better than a night with friends trying out a new dish?

A selection of meats are used to prepare the cocido. These include chicken legs, salted pork, and beef bone.

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One thought on “A little Spain in your own backyard

  1. Marianne Watts says:

    Mmmm!!!! Another delightful dinner at Julio’s! I hate I missed this educational and intriguing meal!

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