Caldo Pata (Cow Hoof Soup)
In Santiago, Chile, across the street from La Vega Central is La Vega Chica, is a collection of eateries where market vendors and customers converge. So said the late Anthony Bourdain in the Chile episode of No Reservations. At an eatery known as Carmen’s, he was served with caldo pata which he described as cow foot, vegetables and cilantro cooked in hearty broth.This is our home version of caldo pata. The cow hooves were simmered for over hours with herbs and vegetables to make a richly-flavored broth.
- 4 three-inch thick slices cow hooves
- 1 whole onion cut into halves
- 1 whole garlic
- 4 stalks celery cut into halves
- 3 large carrots
- 1 large bunch cilantro rinsed well
- ground black pepper
- leafy green vegetables cabbage, spinach… your choice
- fried shallots
- Place the cow hooves in a large heavy pot. Cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for about ten minutes.
- Throw out the water. Rinse out the pot. Rinse the cow hooves.
- Replace the cow hooves in the pot and cover with fresh water. Add two of the carrots, the onion, garlic and celery stalks.
- Cut the cilantro to separate the root ends from the tender stalks and leaves. Add the root ends to the pot (reserve the leafy ends). Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for four to five hours or until the cow hooves are very, very tender. If the liquid evaporates too much during cooking, replenish with water but don’t add too much as you want a reduced liquid for the broth with all the concentrated flavors.
- When the cow hooves are done, fish out the celery stalks, onion, garlic and carrots. Peel the remaining carrot and cut into sticks. Add to the pot. Adjust the seasonings.
- Depending on what greens you’re using, you may add them now or during the last few minutes of cooking time, depending on the length of cooking time they require.
- Cover the pot once more and cook for another ten to 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender. If using spinach, add them at the last minute.
- To serve, place a while cow hoof in a bowl. Ladle the broth over it along with some of the carrot sticks and greens. Chop up the cilantro leaves and sprinkle over the caldo pata. Garnish with fried crisp onion slices and serve very hot with rice or crusty bread.
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