Spanish cuisine isn't just wine and cheese. One of Spain's most famous dishes is the cocido, a hearty stew of different meats and vegetables. This delicious fare has almost as many varieties as Spain has regions, and the curious traveller could spend months going from place to place sampling the local cocidos.
In every region, though, cocido is a large meal with many ingredients best enjoyed in the winter. It is generally eaten in courses, with a soup served first, followed by the legumes and potatoes, and finally the meat and vegetables.
This chickpea stew is perhaps Madrid's most famous dish. The stew contains plenty of cabbage, carrots, potatoes and garlic, but it is by no means a vegetarian dish. It is overflowing with heavy meats, including beef, chorizo, black pudding, pork fat, chicken and ham bone. The excellent restaurant at Parador Chinchón serves this savoury stew.
Cocido madrileño at Parador Chinchón
Extremadura is a region in western Spain that is proud of its local cocido. This version is different from cocido madrileño in that the cabbage is not stewed together with the rest of the ingredients, but rather cooked separately and added afterwards. This chickpea stew also contains chicken, chorizo and pork fat. The black pudding in cocido extremeño is distinctive because it must come from an Iberian pig, a highly valued breed that is fed a diet of acorns. Culinary tourists can sample this fantastic stew at luxury hotel Parador Zafra.
Cocido de pelotas de Navidad
This tasty Christmas-time stew is typical of Levante, which is Spain's Mediterranean coast in the east. Its distinguishing ingredient is the pelotas, which refer to the meatballs added into this stew. The meatballs are prepared with pork fat, chopped pork, turkey liver, pine nuts, pepper, garlic, eggs, fresh bread and parsley.
Besides these delicious meatballs, this version of cocido also contains chick peas, turkey, pork fat, veal knuckle, chorizo, potatoes, green beans, pumpkin, celery, thistle and saffron. Try this version of cocido in the restaurant at Parador Jávea.
This cocido is typical of Cantabria in northern Spain. The authentic version only uses chick peas from the town of Potes. It is distinctive because it contains a delicious stuffing made with bread, eggs, chorizo and parsley. Taste this stew in the restaurant at Parador Fuente Dé.
Cocido lebaniego at Parador Fuente Dé
The people of Lalín in Galicia love cocido so much that they have a cocido festival! The festivities last an entire month, but the most important day falls on the Sunday before Carnival, when locals gather to eat and celebrate this beloved dish. If you are interested in Galicia's cocido holiday, consider staying at Parador Santiago de Compostela.
Which cocido do you want to try first?