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Sep 21, 2011 07:01 PM

Cochinillo in Barcelona or Valencia recommendations?

Im thinking of Asador de Burgos....but is there others that might be better? I cant seem to find other places that serve this.

Im already going to El Asador de Aranada, but they dont serve the whole pig i think.

Any recommendations?

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  1. Asador de Aranda gets very mixed reviews. Are you planning to go to the one near Tibidabo? At least the building is very interesting.

    Most places don't serve the whole pig, unless you are a large group of people. Even the most famous place in Madrid, Botin, gives you only 1/4. Imho, the best part is the skin and the head. If you go early enough, you should be able to request those parts.

    I wanted to go to this place in Madrid but didn't make it (too much to eat, too little time).

    11 Replies
    1. re: Aleta

      Yeah, i read that too about Aranda....but i'll have to check it out.

      we will be 7 people....5, im sure we can finish the whole suckling pig. I just cant believe it is not that common here in barcelona.

      1. re: Aleta

        How does one eat the head exactly? Rather how much of the head can be eaten? I would think the belly would be best, but that may be due to the fact that most places in the States don't serve the head of an animal. I hope my question makes sense.

        1. re: burgeoningfoodie


          I would eat everything but the teeth, jaw or bones! :-)

          The skin is crispy and the cartilage is tender. Rip with your fingers and stuff the little morsels in your mouth. Barbaric and delicious.

          I don't know where in the US you are but in Philadelphia, Jose Garces' Amada serves the whole cochinillo asado. You can look on the Chowhound forum for discussions about the meal.

          1. re: Aleta

            I am in NC. I thought in Spain it is always Knife and Fork (and spoon). Well I'm just not use to eating a whole head.. I've had ear before in Sichuan places. I've not had snout. I've had beef and veal cheeks.. I guess it's when you get to the eyes or brain.. that I'm thinking of or not having a hairy snout (maybe being so young it doesn't matter).

            I mean we have whole hog barbecues but I've never seen anyone eat the ear, tongue or head if it is still there. Skin is always the best part but you have to eat it while it is hot or else it starts to get chewy.

            I've been to Philadelphia a few times but not long enough or where I wasn't predisposed to doing something else (that I couldn't get to a Garces establishment).

          2. re: burgeoningfoodie

            if you're on the west coast, a lot of chinese and filipino restaurants/caterers will deliver the whole suckling or full roast pig to your house...with head and tail intact! :)
            i eat the entire thing (except the bones of course)....any left overs, we turn into a stew. :)
            they are really good for parties...and cost roughly $200 +/-.

            1. re: erickp

              I'm very familiar with the Chinese and Filipino versions. They don't taste the same, of course, as cochinillo asado. Different spices and marinades.

              1. re: Aleta

                Hi, they prepare cochinillo at Can Cargol, a traditional Catalan restaurant at Carrer Valencia, 324. Here's a link: i couldn't see it mentioned on the website but I know they definetly do serve it, but not every night. Give them a call and ask ahead of time. And, I'm pretty sure that for parties of six or more they serve up the whole pig. I have a photo of one somewhere in the bowels of my old laptop but I couldn't retreive it for you. ¡Bon profit! Enjoy Barcelona.`

                1. re: Aleta

                  Hojas de laurel, similar to bay leaf, is the only herb used in traditional Spanish recipes and there are some that do not use even that. Just garlic, I believe. I've not made it myself, though!

                  1. re: erica

                    "Hojas de laurel, similar to bay leaf"

                    Not similar, it is very much the same thing.

                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      Yes, that is true. There is sometimes confusion since in the US, it is common to see both Turkish and California bay leaves in food shops, and I believe only the Turkish is hojas de laurel, while the California is another species. I'm no expert on botany, by any means! In any case I seem to have veered off on a tangent, so please forgive!


                      1. re: erica

                        The whole head is edible except the bones, teeth etc, just like someone else said above.

                        In Philly, you can get it in Italian market. I do not know if they prepare it the same way in Spain since I never bought it there.

          3. Any of these comparable to Jose Maria in Segovia?

            7 Replies
            1. re: kel

              Jose Maria is the gold standard for cochinillo.

              1. re: erica

                Hi Erica,

                On the restaurant website, there are 2 entries for cochinillo. One is specifically for cochinillo from Segovia. If you've been to Jose Maria, which one did you have?


                (under Los Grandes Clasicos de Nuestra Carta
                )"Cochinillo asado de nuestra corte y hornada
                D. Marca de Garantía “Cochinillo asado de Segovia”

                1. re: Aleta

                  Hi Aleta. Yes, I've been to Jose Maria for several dinners over the years but have not been in about 3-4 years.

                  I looked at the menu in Spanish on their website, but I recall only ordering Cochinillo and not having to choose between two types ( Their menu lists cochinillo from their ovens guaranteed to be from Segovia and certified as such by the local authority.) The first two items on the menu under "Asados y Otras Carnes" are referring to the cochinillo; perhaps there should not be two asterisks. At least that is my understanding, although I admit that, on further examination of their menu, it appears confusing because when you look at their list of classic dishes, they are also listing what might possibly be (but again, I do not think so) two types of cochinillo. Maybe it is possible that they offer their own pigs and also pigs with the DO stamp****.....(???)

                  * Cochinillo asado de nuestra corte y hornada
                  * D. Marca de Garantía “Cochinillo asado de Segovia”
                  * Corderito lechal asado "Segolechal" Brazuelo pequeño (2 personas)

                  The other mention of cochinillo, the 4th asterisk down the menu list of Asados, refers to the chops, with seasonal vegetables.


                  Of possible interest is that the late Candido, the eponymous owner of the most famous and oldest Segovia restaurant, used to make a production of cutting the pig with a plate. (I am old enough to have seen him do this on my first visit to Segovia!) Don Candido's son now carries on the tradition which, I believe, originated there, and you can also see it at Jose Maria, as this video shows:


                  I must put down on record here that, although I like cochinillo very much, my true Castillian love is lechazo which you must try, hopefully at one of the lechazo taverns in the Sepulveda area.

                  I hope this was helpful and not too rambling!

                  1. re: erica


                    Not rambling at all but very informative, thank you. Thanks also for the video. I've watched a couple of them before and the one you linked shows much better cutting technique than the one I saw the other day (linked below). Poor Piggy got divided in half - head and all!

                    That a cranium could be divided with a plate is certainly a gruesome testament to the 'youth' of the cochinillo...


                    1. re: Aleta

                      I looked back at a report posted elsewhere, and found that it was my partner that ordered the cochinillo at my last dinner at JM. True to custom, I ordered the lamb chops. Here is what I wrote:

                      <Jose Maria is my kind of restaurant. Cozy, with professional service yet not in the least bit pretentious..the restaurant encloses a series of dining rooms with white plaster walls and lots of red brick. This is the one place that we saw quite a few fellow Americans, probably because we were eating so early at 9pm when the restaurant had just opened for dinner.

                      Here and at most of the other places we ate that week, most tables seemed to be drinking Marques de Caceres Rioja. We had the house wine which proved to be the ideal choice, as Jose Maria has been well-known in the world of Spanish wine since he represented Spain in a world sommelier's contest in the early 70s and is currently the proprietor of his own vineyards in nearby Ribera del Duero, Finca y Bodega del Pago de Carraovejas.

                      We began with white asparagus served cold with a red pepper viniagrette. This will sound sacreligious, but I am a big fan of canned white asparagus from Navarra, which I buy in rather large quantites to take home with me. I began with one of the house specialties, Ensalada de Perdiz y Gallo Iberico escabechado con Foie Fresco y Endibias.

                      The cordero asado here must be ordered by two persons and, knowing that we would be on the lechazo trail the next day, my partner ordered the famous suckling pig, whose adorable relatives are featured on the menu cuddled up in Jose Maria's arms. The pig is no more than 3 weeks old and weighs a maximum of 4.5 kilos. This tiny animal is served with fabulous roasted potatoes. The meat is incredibly tender and the skin is so scrumptiously crispy that it is truly a wonder. The skin is so very crunchy that a large portion, including the tiny ear, actually bounced off the plate and onto the floor (boohoo) when we cut into it! Never mind.....we completely demolished the entire portion.

                      Not able to wait a minute longer for my lamb, I ordered the baby lamb chops which proved to be the tiniest versions I had ever seen..the eye portion was not much larger than the face of my watch. Again, accompanied by fantastic roasted potatoes. Now I love my greens, but I must say I did not miss them one bit here...this is meat for meat connoisseurs and salad or vegetables would just occupy space that could be filled by more meat!

                      And for dessert, the sweet that is now competing with Pastel Vasco in my affections. Ponche Segoviano, is a confection of custard, marzipan (ooops, forgot about that delight in my list of top sweets) and liqueur oozing through layers of light yellow cake. WOW.

                      Dinner at Jose Maria was wonderful, but not nearly as wonderful as the meals that awaited us the next two days when we left Segovia and began our journey into the Segovian hinterlands in search of Roast Suckling Lamb. The meal for the two of us, including water, the Tinto "Autor" Jose Maria, and a second dessert of ice creams, cost 96 E. with tax. (The cochinillo is priced at 19.95; the lamb chops at 18.50.)>

                      1. re: erica

                        MMMMMM... I can't remember if I had lunch yet today. :-)

                        Thanks a million, Erica. I will copy and paste your review into my itinerary for next summer. The baby ear bouncing onto the floor was black humour at its best. I am usually a germaphobe but had I been there, I would have considered the 5-second rule.

                        Ponche Segoviano! must repeat that daily until it becomes as automatic as "Hola". I was just perusing the website for Santo Tome in Toledo and wondering how to carry my purchases around Spain for 2+ weeks (I always buy food treats for my parents who have retired to Shanghai ... can you imagine a bunch of octogenarians sitting around a plate of jamon iberico de bellota and deciding how to eat it? With or without dentures?). Marzipan is one of my favourite foods, next to cake. Marzipan + cake = Heaven on earth!

                        1. re: Aleta

                          Aleta that is a scream about the occasional denture-wearers. Listen, if the pig can be cut with a plate.......

                          I went wild at Santo Tome! But the stash I planned to bring home did not even live for a week. I suggest buying three times the amount you originally planned. They are lovely people, too.