Jose Maria

José María Ruiz
José María Ruiz
Country: Spain
City: 40001 Segovia
Address: Cronista Lecea, 11
(+34) 921466017
Closed: Always open
Price: 40/55 €
Tasting menu:: 20 €

  • Patatas chip con cochifrito y pan frito
  • Patatas chip con cochifrito y pan frito
  • Cochinillo
  • Cochinillo

Segovia has always claimed as its own one of the most beautiful examples of Spain’s traditional food: roast suckling pig, or ‘tostón asado’, served here, in the city of aqueducts, at authentic culinary temples, the most important of which–and with a marked difference in quality–being José María, an established house that opened in 1982, located just a few steps off the Plaza Mayor. The owner, José María Ruiz Benito, has turned the suckling pig into an art form–a science–to the point of becoming a renowned tourist attraction as well.
The roast suckling pig they prepare here is an authentic delicacy: full of flavor, bursting with juices, with a complement of textures ranging from the tenderness of the small pigs to the marvelous lacquered skin; these little roasted piglets are cooked to perfect doneness… a result not only of experience, but also of investigation. In fact, José María came to the conclusion that in order to offer the best product it was necessary to raise the pigs himself; doing it this way he relies on his own ‘breed’, using 250 females to produce the piglets, which are later served in his always packed restaurant.
The suckling pigs are from a cross of mothers of the Landrace race and fathers of the Piétrain specie. Conscious of the importance of maternal feeding, the only product these suckling pigs ingest is their mother’s milk, whose diet is based on a variety of cereals and grains: barley, corn, wheat bran and soy flour. The objective is to produce suckling pigs that weigh between 5 and 5.3 kilos alive, at 15 to 20 days from birth, offering perfection in size and fat content. Slaughtered, bled, stripped and cleaned, then washed with a burst of cold water, they open the backbone with a knife from the head to the tail, taking care not to break the skin. The pigs are then placed over boards, on their back, in a large roasting pot; after adding a little water, they are seasoned and roasted in an oven heated with ash wood at 200ºC/392ºF. After an hour they are then turned over, a small amount of water is added, the skin is pierced, the loin is brushed with a bit of olive oil… and they go back in the oven for another couple of hours. The process is meant to protect the more sensitive parts, such as the ears and tail, from excessive heat to avoid burning. When the skin is browned and crispy, they are sent off to the table and cut in the traditional manner. In a word, excellent.
As if this charismatic roast wasn’t enough to warrant the trip, the ‘Real Sitio’ broad beans and its companions should add that extra bit of motivation to the project. These giant beans are wholly lacking the typical unpleasant skin and floury texture so often associated with this legume. They dissolve in the mouth like a vanishing cream, speaking highly of the product quality and meticulous preparation, which includes one more alluring element: a gelatinous broth that envelops the bean made with the ear, foot, tail and snout of the pig, as well as Cantimpalo chorizo and Asturian morcilla (blood sausage). It is reminiscent of the sauce served with tripe dishes, but more stylized and refined. Fabulous.
Aside from the fact that one must, of course, base the evening’s menu on these traditional delicacies, there are other substantial dishes offered here, always served with recognizable, customary flavors, though presented in more contemporary shapes: the crispy salad–potato chips–with cochifrito (fried lamb), croutons and a citrus vinaigrette with tomato pulp. And for the vino, always opt for the Pago de Carraovejas, which the owner has a large part in producing and whose 2004 crianza offers the best quality-price ratio in Spain.