These are the best cachopos in Spain (and these are the secrets that differentiate them from the rest)


The Merendero Covadonga restaurant has unanimously won the first prize in the contest for the Best Cachopo in Spain, which sponsors the Protected Geographical Indication of Asturian veal, a contest that is on the way to becoming a classic of the recently launched Gourmet Salon.

Its secret: a successful combination of ingredients that add personality without detracting from the meat. And it is that, a priori, the cachopo did not seem at all simple. In addition to the essential Asturian veal, it included Serrano ham, Tres Oscos cheese, piquillo peppers, shiitake mushrooms and asparagus, all of it battered in panko. But, as he explained to Direct to the Palate one of the judges of the contest, in the mouth it was very balanced.

Other cachopos have opted for strong cheeses such as cabrales or cheddar, which reduced the role of meat. But the winner opted for a cheese like Tres Oscos, a tender and smooth product that leaves room for the rest of the ingredients.

"You have to differentiate all the flavors, if not you don't taste the meat," he explains to Direct to the Palate Isidro Martínez, chef at Merendero Covadonga, who has received a cash prize of 1,500 euros. "It has to be a normal ham, that does not have much flavor, and the cheeses have to be soft."

Isidro Martínez with his award-winning cachopo.

Good batter, good point of meat

Cachopo is a very simple-looking dish, but it is not easy to cook to perfection. Even among the 12 finalists in the contest, selected by the jury from among 70 restaurants that have entered the contest, there have been serious failures.

The jury has especially valued three factors: that the batter was well adhered to the meat, that the veal's doneness was correct and that the added ingredients were balanced and made sense. Completely raw cachopos, with flaking batters or, as there has been one case, with cheddar cheese, have been immediately discarded.

The cachopo of the La Marimorena restaurant, in Oviedo, which has won the second prize.

The level, in any case, has been generally high. In second position has been a very creative cachopo, prepared by the restaurant La Marimorena (Oviedo). The invention, covered with tarragon and dried spinach, emulated a green meadow. Maybe it should have had less tarragon, because the result, the jury explains, was too astringent, but still the result was excellent, with a mushroom and bacon interior, which gave it a nice creaminess.

The third prize went to the mining cachopo of the Las Tablas del Campillín restaurant, in Oviedo.

The third prize went to the Las Tablas del Campillín restaurant, also in Oviedo, for its cachopo tribute to Asturian mining. To make the batter appear black, the breadcrumbs have been mixed with a little squid ink, an innovation that did not detract from its final flavor.

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