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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


botiello, martino (Maragato Region), Leon (in Bierzo, Sahagún, Cistierna, Omaña, León, and Luna) botagueña, Ast butelo, Gal botelo, L. botellus, botullus (small sausage), Ar. ghameh, Eng. haggis, an animal’s cecum or blind gut stuffed with scraps of meat and bones, snouts, hooves and cured. It is called the “king of all dishes” when prepared in the Bierzo Region of León and areas of Asturias and Galicia. It is first documented in the monasteries in the area during the 9th and 10th C.

It is an ancestral invention that takes advantage of barely stripped bones and tidbits between the ribs. Chorizos and/or pieces of game marinated in homemade sauce may be used also. The bag is then sewn up, hung from the rafters and smoked for a month or more. When well dried, it is boiled in water and salt in the largest pot of the house. Cabbage is added half way through the cooking process.

Androllas (see blog dated October 5, 2011) are very similar to botillos. Androllas are made by stuffing the large intestine of the pig, while botillo is similar to the shape of a stomach but shorter, plump and thick. The andolla consists of minced raw pieces of pork (ribs, bacon fat, tail, tongue etc). They are not as tasty as botillos for the lack of bones but they are easier to make. They do have a larger portion of skin. Both are commonly eaten with chickpeas, turnips in the Middle Ages (today potatoes) and cabbage or turnip greens, all boiled in the same water as the androlla or the botiello. Once boiled it is best to wrap the androlla or the botiello in a cloth or sack to prevent them from exploding. Some think that these are descendants of the Romans while others think they were made by primitive men ½-1 million years ago.

According to Herodotus, between 8-4 C BC, Scythians were eating botillo. They filled the animal’s stomach with meat mixed with water. The bones were used to make a fire so the animal boiled itself. Many have surmised that ½-1 million years ago primitive man invented the first recipe. Apicius provides a recipe for it. Later, it appeared in Al-Andalus as a hearty Arabian main dish called ghameh, stuffed sheep stomach while the English and the Scots have been eating haggis for so long that the derivation of the word has been lost.

In the mountains of Leon, all botillos have the same basic ingredients but variations are found. Those from El Bierzo are considered the best, perhaps because in the Bercian monasteries botillos are made with more meat than bone. They are round like the abbot’s stomach and not bony or weak like those in a poor house. Customarily, they are consumed on Christmas Eve, New Years, Kings Day and Shrove Tuesday. See comida. [Alonso Luengo. 1994:38:39; Anón/Huici.1966:28:26; Apicius/Flower. 1958:II:III:1:67-69; Ares. “Comidas.” 1994:96; Ares. Gastronomía. 54-55; ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5 00:18; Dialecto. 1947:161; ES: Fortun. Mar 8, 02; Gancedo. 1994:171; García Rey.1934:51 Tapiello. 1994:138-139 and Villar. 1994:182]

For 4 persons

Botillo berciano


2 botillos from Bierzo[1]
300 gr chickpeas
1 bone
4 turnips[2]
1 blood sausage
300 grs chuck roast
3 chorizo sausages
olive oil
3 garlic cloves


Gently boil the botillo 1 ½ - 2 hrs. Cook chickpeas in a pan with the bone, the chuck roast and blood sausage.

In another pan boil the cabbage, turnips and chorizos. Fry the garlic cloves in olive oil.

When all is ready put everything on one platter. Place the garlic cloves on top of everything except the botillo. Cut the botillos in half and sprinkle them with a little broth from the pot in which they were cooked.

[1] Unfortunately, botillos are sold ready made as a result there do not seem be recipes available for making them.
[2] Today, potatoes are used instead of turnips but potatoes were not available in medieval Europe.


  1. The botillo is the best . I did the Camino de Santiago in Spain , two years ago, and the botillo was one of my favorite meals and memories !

  2. Thank you for pointing this out to our readers. The Camino de Santiago was rough for me at first as my work is seditary in comparison to walking 8 hours a day through mountaineous paths. When I arrived at Acedo in Leon, my muscles ached miserably. The botillo berciano laid in front of me was mana from heaven!

  3. I had a lovely cocido in Murias Dr Rechivaldo on my Camino. I had had cocido some years previously in Astoria and was lucky to find it here. The people I was with loved it.