Cocido Madrileño at La Bola (Madrid, Spain)

If there is one emblematic dish of Madrid, it’s cocido Madrileño. Cocido is a stew of garbanzo beans with various meats and vegetables, which is served in two courses. First the broth from the stew is served over vermicelli noodles, then the garbanzos, meats and vegetables are served with various condiments. Traditionally cocido is cooked in earthenware vessels over a wood fire. However most restaurants prepare cocido in standard cookware over gas stovetops. After inquiring with a local, I was recommended La Bola restaurant, which is one of the few restaurants in Madrid that prepare cocido in the traditional manner. We started our meal with some tasty olives and nice crusty bread. We ordered melón con jamón (melon with Spanish ham) to start, which was delicious. Then came the cocido. The server poured the broth over the noodles tableside and brought the condiments to the table. The condiments consisted of a red pepper & tomato sauce, spring onions and pickled Guindilla peppers. The broth was delicious with a nice meaty flavor. Once our soups were finished, our server plated the cocido for us tableside. This particular cocido included oxtail, pig’s foot, pork belly, chorizo and chicken. Our server also brought a plate of braised cabbage that was sautéed with garlic. He told us to mix the cabbage with the garbanzo beans. After adding some condiments we dug in to our feast. The cocido was delicious. It tasted like good home cooking. Cocido reminds me of French pot au feu and Italian bollito misto. All three are rustic country dishes served in two courses and with condiments. To drink we shared a half bottle of Rioja. We finished our meal with the house flan, which had a nice kick of orange and cinnamon. La Bola is a great place to come and have a traditional cocido Madrileño.
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