Olla Podrida, the Authentic Castilian Stew

“This plate that is steaming in front of me appears to me to be olla podrida, because of the diversity of ingredients that there are in some ollas podridas, I won’t be able to stop running into some that is to me of taste and benefit…”.  This is the way Don Quixote described olla podrida, the authentic Castilian stew.  The adjective podrida derives from poder which means powerful since during the Middle Ages only rich people could afford such an opulent dish.  This delicacy is also called cocido or puchero and it is cooked all over Spain especially during Christmas time. You could of course cook it for your Christmas feasts, I am sure your relatives and friends will really appreciate it!

Castilian Stew Ingredients

The ingredients of cocido not only differ depending on the region, I could say every family has its own cocido recipe.  In Madrid housewives add cabbage and turnip, in Galicia turnip tops, in the Basque Country spinaches and poached eggs.  However, even if there are differences, classical ingredients are almost the same:

  • four different kinds of meat like pork, veal, chicken and lamb
  • legumes like chickpeas, lentils or red beans
  • vegetables like potatoes, carrots, turnip, onions and celery
  • pasta,  usually added in Catalonia

The most interesting aspect of cocido is the way it is presented.  All kinds of cocido are served in 3 different plates which according to the card game hierarchy are called jack, horse and king. First comes a warm and tasty stock, then colored and tender vegetables and finally succulent meats.

Chickpeas and potatoes purée

Since in every family ingredients and modalities differ, I am going to propose you my own version of cocido. Trust me, it is excellent and easy to prepare, even if a bit long. I’m going to make a rich, thick delicious stock (my jack), a sort of potatoes and chickpeas purée (my horse) and a combination of delicious meats (my king).

Meat and vegatables stock

Castilian stew


2 medium onions

3 carrots

2 garlic cloves

1 branch of celery

1 leek

1 yellow turnip

2 lb potatoes

2 lb chickpeas

0.8 lb chuck beef

1 Catalan black botifarra (if you don’t find any use a normal sausage)

1 Catalan white botifarra (if you don’t find any use a normal sausage)

3 pieces of ham-knuckle

1 chicken leg



Soak chickpeas in water for almost 10 hours. Boil potatoes till they are tender, peel them and mash them with a fork. Pour water in a casserole and add the rest of the vegetables – peeled and whashed –  and all the meat except for botifarra. Add salt and pepper.  Bring to rolling boil. When it starts boiling, lower the flame and let it stew for 4-5 hours. In the meantime, take a little quantity of stock from the casserole and pour it into a saucepan with the chickpeas. Let it boil till the chickpeas are cooked. Then put smashed potatoes and chickpeas into the blender and purée it.  After 3 hours put the butifarras into a saucepan with water and let it simmer for 30 minutes. When they are ready, slice them and add them to the rest of the cocido. Let everything cook for almost 1 more hour. Serve your steaming and thick stock, then your fantastic potatoes and chickpeas purée and finally the luxuriant and gluttonous meat.

beef, chicken and pork meat

Ready to show your hand?

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4 Responses to Olla Podrida, the Authentic Castilian Stew

  1. Sonia de La CLairière says:

    Ce plat me parait vraiment appétissant surtout à consommer durant les longues veillées d’hiver auprès de la cheminée. Très nourrissant et très succulent. Je vais donc m’y mettre au plus vite et je vous en dirai des nouvelles! Merci encore à Francesca, cordon bleu chevronné!
    Sonia de la Clairière

  2. Isiah Peraha says:

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