Spanish cocido

  • for 6 people
  • Chickpeas need soaking the night before. Then it’s 30 minutes to put together, plus 4-6 hours cooking
  • Easy
Celebrate the Spanish pace of life with this leisurely stew recipe with a difference.

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Large pinch of saffron
500g packet dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water
Large whole chicken, cut into about 12 pieces, skin and bone left on
300g chorizo sausage, skinned and cut into big chunks
4 pork belly chops, cut into chunks
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
6 rosemary sprigs
250g tiny pasta shapes for soup, such as midolinne (melon seed) or stellini (stars)
Small bunch flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Small block of mature Manchego or Parmesan, to grate on top


1. Add the saffron to some boiling water, stir well then make up to 3 litres using cold water. Drain the chickpeas and place in a large cooking dish or tin with the chicken, chorizo, pork, garlic, and rosemary sprigs. Season generously with salt and pepper then pour over the saffron water – add more water, if necessary, to ensure the mixture is fully covered. Cover tightly and place in a cold oven. Turn on to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4 and cook for 4-6 hours until the chickpeas and meat are very tender.
2. When ready to serve, put on a pan of salted water for the pasta. Cook for 8 minutes or so, according to packet instructions, then divide between the bowls. Sprinkle over the parsley and add a good ladleful of the saffron stock spooned off the top of the cocido to each bowl. Pass round the Manchego.
3. Once the soup has been eaten, put the cocido on the table so guests can serve themselves.

  • This is the national lunchtime dish of Spain. It has many variations though it always contains chickpeas, chicken and pork. Put the chickpeas on to soak before you go to bed. Prepare it all and get it into the oven as early as possible then you’ll have plenty of time to go for a walk, read the papers or call in at the pub, safe in the knowledge that your lunch will be waiting for you when you get back. And one of the best things about it is that it provides you with both starter and main course. Traditionally, cocido is cooked in earthenware pots but a large casserole dish or roasting tin, very well sealed with foil – you don’t want any steam to escape – will also do. Buy a large chicken and cut into pieces yourself, otherwise use a mixture of thighs and drumsticks.
  • Serve the simple soup without wine, and uncork a white Burgundy to go with the cocido. Meursault would be ideal.

From March 2004

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