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#1026 - Cocido, The Stew of Madrid
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Because Al is such a huge fan of Spanish wines, he has started going through his cookbooks looking for ideas for Spanish dinners. One of the classics is "cocido," the famous stew of Madrid. This is a complicated dinner in terms of process, and simple in terms of actual technique. Cocido is one of Spain's signature dishes, practiced at the family level across the country. It's one of those dishes like chili con carne or bouillabaisse that has as many variations as practitioners. But here are the essentials: it's a meat and vegetable stew that ends up being deconstructed into its elements, and it features chickpeas, cabbage, pork and chicken. This is a time intensive meal, and requires a lot of pots and platters to complete.
What we are going to do is boil a lot of meat with accompanying vegetables in one pot, some cabbage and chorizo sausage in another, then drain, strain, separate and recombine into three courses: soup with noodles, vegetables, and cut up meat.
Stage one: Cook the meats in a big stock pot - they would usually include: a beef brisket, veal or lamb shanks, cured ham, slabs of bacon or pork belly, a pig's knuckle with meat on in, beef bones with marrow, meatballs, and a stewing chicken. Cover with water and bring to a boil and then simmer, covered. vWhile simmering, add salt and a bouquet garni of bay leaves, peppercorns, a garlic bulb, and thyme sprigs. At the same time, place your chickpeas in a cheesecloth bag, so you can remove them easily later, and drop into the pot. Add a couple large peeled carrots, and a large onion studded with cloves. Simmer, covered, for at least two hours.
Stage 2: In a separate, smaller kettle, simmer in water cut up cabbage, with a pair of chorizo sausages. Simmer until the cabbage is tender, then drain and sautee the cabbage in a skillet with olive oil. The chorizo will render out its fat, and cook through. When it is done, add the chorizo to the big pot, and keep the cabbage in a warm bowl.
Stage 3: Remove the chicken from the big pot and keep warm. Add half a dozen cut up potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes until tender. You can then remove the chickpeas, carrots, potatoes and any other vegetables from the main pot, and combine them on a platter with the cabbage. Keep it warm.
Stage 4: After a minimum of two and a half hours, remove all the meats from the main pot, leaving a rich broth behind. Keep the meats warm on a platter. Strain the broth through cheese cloth, and return to the pot. Add skinny noodles and simmer.
Stage 5: Serve the soup and noodles first, followed by the vegetable platter, and finally serve the meats, which you have cut up into serving pieces. Reserve a little of the broth to sprinkle over everything to moisten it. Traditionally, cocido is served with a tomato sauce on the side. Open and serve multiple bottles of good Spanish wine.