Inland Spain's Regional Cuisine

Hearty and tasty recipes filled with history and tradition.

By Real Academia de Gastronomía

Real Academia de Gastronomía

Botillo from El BIerzoReal Academia de Gastronomía

Game dishes, soups, pork products, vegetable stews, roasts, and even offal: inland Spain's cuisine boasts rich and varied produce that is reflected in hearty, tasty recipes filled with history and tradition.

Sautéed Mushrooms and PotatoesReal Academia de Gastronomía

Castile and León: Land of Roast Meat and Mushrooms

Castile and León is made up of 9 provinces and, although each one is gastronomically unique, they also have a lot in common. Their hearty stews and roast meats are common threads linking the entire region.

"Cochinillo asado"Real Academia de Gastronomía

It's the destination of choice for those wanting to enjoy a good oven-roasted lamb or suckling pig, cooked to perfection with tender meat and crispy skin. Hare, rabbit, and partridge often feature at their tables, with game being another of their hallmarks. Fresh meat from Ávila and Salamanca, as well as suckling lamb from Segovia, all have Protected Geographical Indication status.

Black truffle huntingReal Academia de Gastronomía

The region is also at the forefront of mushroom production, and the province of Soria is known for the quality and quantity of its black truffles. Not for nothing does this Autonomous Community host more than 350 mushroom-related events a year!

Beans from La BañezaReal Academia de Gastronomía

Castilian Stews

This is a region with a rich variety of pulses—it's the largest producer in Spain. The majority of them have been awarded a quality certification, including kidney beans from Bañeza-León, chickpeas from Fuentesaúco, white beans from Barco de Ávila, and lentils from La Armuña and Tierra de Campos.

Maragato StewReal Academia de Gastronomía

These ingredients are used in delicious stews, combined with pork products and other meat. This is true of "cocido," a stew with regional variations throughout Castile and León. One of them is "Maragato," which is from the La Maragatería area of León and is eaten back to front: first the meat, then the vegetables, and finally the soup.

Rainbow TroutReal Academia de Gastronomía

As a result of its cold winters, this region also has several kinds of soup, including "Castellana" (garlic) soup, "Zamorana" soup (made from garlic, ripe tomatoes, and chilies), and Órbigo trout soup, which is typical of El Bierzo (León). Trout is a highly-prized fish in this region.

Table of varied IberianReal Academia de Gastronomía

Sausages and Pork Products

The cuisine of Castile and León is closely related to agricultural work and the cold climate during the winter months, hence its hearty products and recipes. Among them are sausages, which are very popular in these provinces. They are used in lentil and bean stews, soups, pies, and popular dishes such as "migas," made with bread, garlic, sausages, and other pork products including bacon.

Botillo from El BIerzoReal Academia de Gastronomía

Bierzo sausage (which is cooked and eaten with potatoes), cured meat from León, and chorizo from Cantimpalos all boast quality stamps, and many others are also revered, including blood sausage from Burgos and "farinato" sausage from Salamanca. Salamanca in particular produces some highly acclaimed sausages, in Guijuelo, where they also produce extremely high-quality ham.

"Hornazo" (meat pie)Original Source: dimequeesviernes.com

Sausages also feature in one of Castile and León's quintessential country recipes: "hornazo," which is a type of pie. It is thicker and fuller than the Galician version, and has its origins mainly in Ávila, Segovia, and Salamanca.

Valladolid breadReal Academia de Gastronomía

Give Us Our Daily Bread, Cheese, and Wine

Castile and León is responsible for a third of all Spain's cheese production, and has several quality marks. Its production of artisan bread has undergone a revival, including the popular Pan de Valladolid (Valladolid bread) and Hogaza de Zamora (a type of loaf).

Vineyard Landscapes of the Atauta ValleyReal Academia de Gastronomía

Above all, however, it is a wine region, with well-known denominations such as Ribera del Duero and Rueda. But there are many others, including Arlanza, Arribes, Bierzo, Cigales, Sierra de Salamanca, Toro, and Cebreros—a huge variety, with each wine reflecting its area's own identity.

Head of El QuijoteReal Academia de Gastronomía

Castile-La Mancha: The Recipes of Don Quixote

This masterpiece of Spanish literature, which is set in La Mancha, makes reference to some of the region's most deeply-rooted recipes.

Tiled Mural of El QuijoteReal Academia de Gastronomía

The book mentions roast partridge, "olla podrida" or "rotten pot" (a type of stew), cheeses, and wineskins: "An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra on Sundays" wrote Cervantes in his 1605 novel, which is now a world classic.

Cabañeros National ParkReal Academia de Gastronomía

Vegetables, Oil, Cheese, Bread, and Wine

The cuisine of Castile-La Mancha has humble origins, shaped by a hot, dry climate and cold winters. It is the result of the area's natural resources and the need to create hearty dishes to keep people going through days spent farming and working in the countryside.

Rice with Almagro Eggplant and Iberian Pork filletReal Academia de Gastronomía

Among the most popular vegetables it produces are eggplants from Almagro (Ciudad Real) and black garlic from Las Pedroñeras (Cuenca), both of which have quality stamps. "Pisto" is one of the region's finest vegetable dishes: it is made with tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini, and can be served hot or cold.

Olive oil and olivesReal Academia de Gastronomía

"Asadillo" (made from roasted red peppers, garlic, tomato, and oil) is another example of a popular vegetable-based dish. Extra virgin olive oil (with various denominations of origin) and saffron are the jewels in the crown of La Mancha's cuisine.

MigasReal Academia de Gastronomía

Cheese, bread, and wine are also referred to in the pages of Don Quixote. The quality of the region's sheep's and goat's cheese, as well as its wine, is certified by their quality stamps. Bread also forms part of traditional recipes such as garlic soup, "migas" (a dish made from breadcrumbs), and Manchegan gazpacho, which is very different to the Andalusian version since it is made with "torta cenceña" (unleavened bread) and eaten with game.

Smoked “Ajoarriero” with Herring RoeReal Academia de Gastronomía

Meat, Cod, Game, and Marinades

Meats such as lamb are the centerpiece of traditional stews throughout the region, while kid goat stew is popular in Guadalajara. Cod is the main ingredient in dishes such as "tiznao" (flaked cod with tomato, pepper, onion, and garlic), as well as "ajoarriero" from Cuenca, and "atascaburras" from Albacete (both of which are prepared on a base of crushed potatoes).

Pickled partridgeReal Academia de Gastronomía

Game meat features heavily in the cuisine of Castile-La Mancha, especially small game. White beans with partridge, rice with hare, and the region's gazpachos are just a few examples of how this highly-prized resource is used in Manchegan cookery.

Marinated RabbitReal Academia de Gastronomía

Rabbit is one of the ingredients in a stew known as "tojunto," which is typical of Ciudad Real, while partridge is the best kind of meat for a Toledan-style "escabeche" or marinade. Game is also the main ingredient in "morteruelo" from Cuenca, alongside pork liver, breadcrumbs, and spices, resulting in a pâté-like spread.

Madrid-Style TripeReal Academia de Gastronomía

Madrid: Tavern Food and Offal

As a capital city and melting pot, Madrid offers a cuisine influenced by all of Spain's regional cooking. Traditional dishes from rural areas became part of the capital's cuisine as people migrated from the countryside to the city in search of work. Dishes such as "casquería de las verbenas" (lamb intestines or mesentery) and produce from the surrounding areas began to appear alongside dishes served in bars and taverns, becoming a popular cuisine in its own right.

"Cocido madrileño"Real Academia de Gastronomía

Tripe and "cocido" stew are 2 recipes with "a la madrileña" (Madrid-style) added to their names. The stew is made with chickpeas, different types of meat, vegetables, and sausage, and can be enjoyed in some of the city's oldest taverns, where the ingredients are served as separate courses.

Horcher RestaurantReal Academia de Gastronomía

Madrid has more than a dozen of these restaurants, which are over 100 years old, and it is here that people can enjoy the most authentic and traditional of Madrid's cuisine, with recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Roberto RuizReal Academia de Gastronomía

Madrid also has one of the finest selections of international cuisine. The city's hospitality has led many people from elsewhere to make it their home, and it is difficult to find a foreign cuisine that is not well represented there.

Dish from "Huerta de Carabaña" RestaurantReal Academia de Gastronomía

Exceptional Garden Produce and Meat with Credentials

This region has a long tradition of fruit and vegetable production, which is mainly concentrated in the southeastern county of Las Vegas, around Aranjuez, Carabaña, Chinchón, Ciempozuelos, Colmenar de Oreja, and Villaconejos. It even has its own quality mark: "Huerta Villa del Prado."

Landscape with CattleReal Academia de Gastronomía

It also has a significant livestock industry, concentrated around the area with the Protected Geographical Indication "Sierra de Guadarrama Meat."

Vineyard in CenicientosReal Academia de Gastronomía

Wine and Oil "From Madrid"

Madrid's winemaking tradition goes back several centuries, but it is only in the past 30 years that it has had its own denomination of origin to protect its wines.

Olive treesReal Academia de Gastronomía

There is also evidence that olive oil was produced in the region from the 13th century onward, and it now has almost 25,000 hectares of olive groves. The result is oils that are balanced, low in acidity, and slightly bitter and spicy.

Canned Tuna BellyReal Academia de Gastronomía

The Port of Madrid

Although Madrid is not on the sea, all of Spain's coasts are more or less the same distance away and the city is lucky enough to have produce from all over Spain in its central market. Tuna, sea bream, and sea bass all arrive with the same degree of freshness every morning, so when they reach the kitchen, people can be sure they are as fresh as the fish delivered in coastal regions.

"El Invernadero" RestaurantReal Academia de Gastronomía

Haute Cuisine in Inland Spain

The regional cuisines of the 2 Castiles have also seen their traditional recipes evolving through creativity, technique, and the avant-garde.

Sardines Marinated in Strawberries and CheeseReal Academia de Gastronomía

Pepe Rodríguez in Toledo, Fran Martínez in Albacete, Miguel Cobo in Burgos, Víctor Gutiérrez in Salamanca, Óscar García in Soria, and Víctor Martín in Valladolid are just a few of the chefs who have managed to get the region's gastronomy and produce into the top restaurant guides.

Coque’s cuisineReal Academia de Gastronomía

As a gastronomic melting-pot, Madrid offers cutting-edge cuisine that reflects its cultural influences. David Muñoz took on the challenge of reinventing Madrid's "cocido" stew in 3 courses of pure fusion, including a potato dim sum with bone marrow, cabbage, and broth. Juanjo López at La Tasquita de Enfrente and Mario Sandoval at Coque are 2 more examples of Madrid chefs who have managed to take the essence of this stew to the tables of gourmet restaurants.

Iberian pigs in the Dehesa fieldsReal Academia de Gastronomía

Regional Cuisine of Extremadura

Located to the west of Spain, Extremadura's 2 provinces share a border with Portugal, which has heavily influenced the local gastronomy. However, this autonomous community is particularly renowned for 2 of the greatest Spanish products: cheese and ham.

Torta del Casar cheeseReal Academia de Gastronomía

The best-known cheeses are from La Serena and the Torta del Casar, both of which have Protected Designations of Origin, and Ibores cheese. The region's hams also have quality seals, with Dehesa de Extremadura hams being among the most popular in Spain. Extremadura is also a land of wine and cava—the perfect accompaniment to these 2 gastronomic jewels.

Picota Cherry from JerteReal Academia de Gastronomía

The Valle del Jerte also produces one of the best varieties of cherry in the world, which also has a Protected Designation of Origin.

Iberian Ham Shoulder, Lemon sauce, and Caramelized TailReal Academia de Gastronomía

Not only does Extremadura boast one of the world's best Iberian hams, but it also offers a variety of exquisite cuts, such as the "pluma" (pork belly), "secreto" (pork fillet), or "presa" (pork loin). Other meats on offer here include game (partridge, hare, and venison) and lamb, which can be either roasted or cooked in a stew. The region is also well-known for its wine.

View of the Convent of San José in Saragossa set alight after bombing by the invading French army during the Napoleonic war in Spain (1808–14) by Fernando Brambila|Juan GalvezThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

Extremaduran cooking might have Arab, Christian, and Jewish influences, but it has left its own distinctive mark elsewhere, not least of all on French gastronomy. During the Napoleonic Wars, the convent of San Benito de Alcántara was captured and the parchments within were used to make cartridges. However, one was saved as it contained a local recipe book that Escoffier declared to be "the best trophy, the only worthwhile thing that France achieved in that war."

Credits: Story

Text: Silvia Artaza, in collaboration with Antonio Mateos (president of the Academy of Gastronomical Culture of Castilla-La Mancha, Julio Valles (president of the Academy of Gastronomy and Food of Castile and León), Francisco Sauco (president of the Extremaduran Academy of Gastronomy), and Luis Suárez de Lezo (president of the Academy of Gastronomy of Madrid).

Image: Foods & Wines from Spain / Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade / David de Luis / Horcher Restaurant / Punto MX / Huerta de Carabaña / El Invernadero (Rodrigo de la Calle) / Coque Restaurant.

Acknowledgements: Rafael Ansón, president of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy; Elena Rodríguez, director of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy; María García and Caroline Verhille, contributors to the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy.

Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy

This exhibition is part of the Spanish Gastronomy project jointly coordinated by Google Arts & Culture and the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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