Situated on the border between Lavapiés and La Latina (two classic Madrid neighborhoods) Malacatín is without a doubt one of the prime examples of Cocido Madrileño prepared to perfection. If you like traditional dishes that are both filling and delicious, you cannot come to Madrid and not try Cocido. This recipe came about from the genuine need of the lower class inhabitants of Madrid and their push to get the most out of the food they could in fact get ahold of such as: garbanzos, beef shank, potatoes, vegetables, hen, bacon, chorizo, and blood sausage. This plate is quite full of calories because at times it was the one and only meal of the day. It also helped people to survive the cold Madrid winters when, during the beginning of the twentieth century, temperatures dropped to -10ºC.
To go to Malacatín is to travel back in time to a Madrid that’s even more Madrid. When you enter, you discover a modest tavern with a bar, tables and wooden chairs; classic blue ceramic tiles, and vintage bullfighting posters decorate the walls. It could seem a bit overwhelming; however, 130 years of history makes way for lots of memories and not many places can speak of such a long, and rich history. Jose, or if you’d like to shoot him a message on whatsapp using his nickname Garbanzo de Oro, is part of the fourth generation to run the restaurant. You’ll recognize him straight away because he’s wearing a black and white suit, while the waiters don typical red vests.
Even though Malacatín has a wonderful menu of delicious food and wine, it’s most known for its Cocido. It’s prepared over an open flame daily and for only 19,50€ you can feast on a buffet of Cocido Madrileño. Ths price does not however include bread or drinks.
Today, there are several varieties of Cocido, but in the Malacatín, they serve the 3 vuelco variety, which means there are three rounds. There are so many ways to mix the variety of ingredients. Here we’ll show you how the Mad 4 Madrid team does it, but you’ll have to invent your own way later.
- First vuelco: Large bowl of soup and baby onions. The soup is comprised of a broth that has been cooking for many hours with all of the ingredients. When you taste it, it will become one of your top three favorite soups. Here they serve it with noodles, even though there are people that prefer it without, and it’s accompanied by fresh baby onions. A tip: you can add the onion to the plate in pieces or you can bite it as you eat the soup. The explosion of flavor will definitely leave an impression.
- Second vuelco: With the first round still on the table (there’s about 4 liters and don’t worry, if you finish you can always order more), they bring you a platter of Castilian garbanzos with potato, cooked cabbage and crushed tomatoes. The trick is that the garbanzos are firm and you can chew them as you eat. A new challenge: you’ll have to make the difficult decision of deciding how to combine the ingredients. There are those ho mix everything in the soup; those that eat the garbanzos with the cabbage, the potato and the tomato, those who prefer to eat it with oil and vinegar and there are even people who make a puree out of everything. Fortunately, the latter group is rare, and thank God are a minority.
- Third vuelco: Whether or not you’ve finished the second course, it’s now time to head into the final act. They bring you an entire hen, tender meat, Iberian pork knuckle (it’s characterized by its slight rancid smell, that you can also taste in the soup) asturian blood sausage, chorizo from León, marble bacon, pig feet and more garbanzos if you’d like. The final image of all the food on the table is a site worthy of being painted by Velásquez himself!
Warning: There are some people that don’t like bacon or pig feet and I recommend that you try all of the ingredients first, and make judgments afterwards. As delicious as everything is, it’d be a shame to not try everything.
You can repeat any plate that they serve you. Don’t be shy when asking for more soup, garbanzos, cabbage, chorizo. In fact, in Malacatín if someone is able to finish all the cocido, they eat for free. Funny thing is that no one’s been able to do that, perhaps because they keep bringing you more.
More than likely is that you explode, but just in case you have more space you should try one of their homemade desserts. The most traditional is leche frita, or friend milk, a delicacy prepared with milk, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and cinnamon. This is all fried over high heat in a large skillet and it’s sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. A perfect treat for all those with a sweet tooth because here, this dessert is accompanied by Pedro Ximénez wine reduction.
Of course this grand feast has to end like all gran feasts in Spain, with a good digestif: a pacharán, or cream liquor, or at times it’s made of herbs. This helps our stomachs begin the long and tedious process of digesting everything that we have just consumed.
Be ready because you probably won’t have a big breakfast the next day, and you probably shouldn’t count on eating dinner that night either.
The truth of the matter is that Malacatín is a hidden gem in Madrid and an essential part of the Madrid experience. They serve quality food for great prices and, above all, you can taste the history, passion and love with every spoonful.