The recipe is old. The first references already appeared in the 18th century. So, there was talk of a plate of breaded meat stuffed with ham and cheese. But there are no certain data on the origin and there is no evidence of the origin of the name, uncertainties that have not prevented the cachopo from achieving the luster that it currently shines.
In the middle of the last century, in the center of Oviedo, the Pelayo bar ―currently closed― began to prepare a hearty dish: breaded beef fillet stuffed with ham and cheese. It weighed more than a kilo. It also incorporated other ingredients such as frixuelos -an Asturian dessert similar to crepes- and asparagus. They called it cachopo. The evolution continued over the years. The size became one of its hallmarks and the recipe was renewed. New formulas appeared with the presence of ingredients such as fish or seitan.
At its best, these are some Asturian restaurants where you can taste different types of cachopo.
La Escollera, with Marcona almonds and lacon
At the gates of western Asturias, the town of San Juan de la Arena remains historically linked to the sea. But the restaurant La Escollera (La Galerna, 16) decided to bet heavily on the cachopo, taking into account that the family that runs the business has a butcher shop in the nearby town of Cudillero and has its own livestock. It was a matter of seizing that advantage. Directed by Arancha Burgueño, the menu includes 15 varieties of cachopo, among which the Imperial stands out. Here they prepare the recipe with Asturian veal and place a Marcona almond dressing on one side of the fillet, as well as Pría cheese and cold cuts of lacon prepared in the establishment. They use, in addition to the egg and flour, a thicker bread than normal to achieve a crunchy texture.
The Carbayu, grilled and suitable for coeliacs
In a small population center located in the upper part of Cudillero, Mesón El Carbayu (La Atalaya, 8) proposes a different proposal to the traditional one. Marisol Fernández, owner and cook of this establishment, prepares the grilled cachopo and only batters it at the customer’s request. Years ago she decided to please some nephews with celiac disease by cooking it that way and, given the favorable reception obtained, she began to include it in the restaurant’s menu. Fernández, who hoped to achieve success with the excellent fish from the area where she works, ended up gaining notoriety for the grilled cachopo. With an oval frying pan, olive oil and Asturian beef as the main elements, she believes that this recipe allows a better appreciation of the flavor of the meat and the filling. In her establishment, she offers up to 11 varieties, of which she prepares four with Asturian beef, another four with chicken, two with mushrooms and one with hake. She highlights the Asturian beef, serrano ham, goat cheese and caramelized onion.
La Bodega de Miguel, better in sunflower oil
La Bodega de Miguel, in Gijón (Dindurra, 39), is a classic establishment that began serving wines and tapas. Subsequently, its owners decided to expand the capacity of the business and in recent years they have achieved notable popularity with two dishes: the cachopo and the tortilla. Miguel García and Clara Suárez run this establishment that includes among its offer the cachopín, a piece of about 400 grams, ideal for a single person to taste. Here they make it with Iberian ham or cecina and cheese. For this, they use half a dozen Asturian varieties of this product and an Italian cow’s cheese, which they use at home because it melts well. For the batter, they use panko ―the Japanese form of breadcrumbs― for the crunchy texture it generates. In addition, the oil is essential, in the opinion of the owners, who prefer a quality high oleic sunflower oil to prepare the dish.
Astur River, in search of Mari
Also in Gijón, Río Astur (Río de Oro, 3) is a traditional cider house where the waiters still pour the cider in the bar, dining room or terrace of the establishment. In this classic Asturian cuisine, the fabada, which is offered daily, and the cachopo, of which up to seven varieties are prepared, stand out. Among them stands out the so-called Mari: instead of using veal tapa, they use entrecote to play with the point of the meat, acorn-fed Iberian ham and an Asturian cheese from the town of Peñamellera, which melts well and does not stand out above the rest. of the ingredients. They also work with artisan bread from Cangas del Narcea. This restaurant, directed by José Ángel Fernández, and whose kitchen is in charge of Carmen Menéndez, Mariproposes a mostly gluten-free menu.
Taberna Salcedo: chosco, paprika and garlic
Joaquín Fernández and Annalisa Lusso decided to innovate with the interiors of the cachopo in the Oviedo Taberna Salcedo (Puerto de Tarna, 11). The objective was to renew the traditional proposal, but without escaping from the line set for this dish. At the same time, they sought to highlight the qualities of Asturian products. They agreed to fill it with chosco, a sausage, raw or cured, originally from the southwest of the Principality, made with two parts of the pig ―the head of the loin and the tongue―, salt, paprika and garlic. They make this innovative dish with some very fine fillets of this sausage, Asturian beef for tapas and Vidiago cheese, a tender cow product from the Llanes area. The importance of the oil stands out in the elaboration of any cachopo and they usually work with a soft virgin olive oil.
Casa Chema, no meat
The Casa Chema restaurant (El Cordial, s/n), also in Oviedo, has twice won the contest for the best fabada in the world. No other establishment has that record. But this has not prevented Joaquina Rodríguez and José Luis Bernárdez, its owners, from delving into the offer of vegan and vegetarian dishes in their establishment. 10 years ago they started with an aubergine cachopo and currently they make one with seitan, stuffed with vegetables, shiitake mushrooms and a homemade cashew nut cheese. The batter is made with flax and breadcrumbs. They prepare everything. Without dispensing with fabada, pote and cachopo, prepared in the classic style, they intend to continue reinforcing the offer of dishes without animal protein, for which they have their own garden next to the restaurant.
La Botica, with hake as the protagonist
In the fishing village of Lastres, Otto Gutiérrez runs the restaurant La Botica (Matemático Pedrayes, 2), in which the hake cachopo has a prominent role. It is a laborious dish that he prepares with the loins ―that is already an important job― and stuffed with spider crab meat and crab. Then he coats it with egg and flour and, finally, deep-fries it and ends up in the oven. The dish also has a seafood sauce and is accompanied by baked potatoes. Gutiérrez considers the product to be the secret to his success. For this reason, he personally visits different Asturian markets in search of merchandise and, if necessary, he also travels to neighboring ports. He knows the environment well, since he comes from a family related to the sea and worked in the fishing sector.