Saturday, 5 February 2011

in my larder - chorizo

Chorizo is one of my favourite things and when I would have it in restaurants I assumed it was some kind of tricky ingredient that required a lot of chef-y knowledge to use. But it isn't. It is basically a fermented and cured sausage and requires very little work at all to make into a tasty bite.

There are lots of different types of chorizo. You can actually get fresh chorizo that requires cooking before eating but it is much more common in its cured version.

Spanish chorizo and Portuguese chorizo get their smokiness and deep red colour from dried smoked red peppers. Mexican chorizo is usually made with chile peppers because the paprika used in Spainish chorizo is expensive to import. In Spain and Portugal the sausages are usually encased in intestines but in Latin America they are usually encased in artificial casings.

Chorizo can be eaten as it comes - it is lovely sliced up and served with bread and dips and cheeses or in a sandwich - and you can also fry it. It can be simmered in alcohol - particularly apple cider.

You get chorizo described as 'sweet' or 'spicy' - usually thin chorizo is sweet and short are spicy - but as this isn;t always true you should check the packaging or ask the staff.

Chorizo is made with pork - so remember to check with any dinner guests if this might be a problem.

My favourite chorizo recipes include -

Chorizo with scallops, beetroot salad and rosemary potatoes

Chorizo stew

Chorizo and bread
olive oil
balsamic Vinegar
goat's cheese
cherry tomatoes
2 small dipping/nibble dishes

Take two small dishes - with the first fill with a slug of good olive oil and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and with the second fill with some olives

Take some freshly baked bread - or some ciabatta or other tasty bread from the shop - and either slice up thickly as it is or, if it is a cold day, slice and toast under the grill

Take your tomatoes and slice into small quarters

Take a small frying pan, slice the chorizo thickly and fry gently in some olive oil. The slow fry will release the lovely orange oil from the chorizo meat

Take a slotted spoon and tranfer the chorizo slices to a small dish. Do not discard the oil

Take out the bread and pile on a plate - scatter the chorizo and the goat's cheese over the top and then drizzle with the oil from the pan

Put the tomatoes around the edge of the plate

Serve with the olives and oil/vinegar alongside. And a nice bottle of red!

I always find that the chorizo oil itself, while gorgeous, isn't usually enough for me and so I like the oil/vinegar combo to dip any left over bread in. This dish is good as either a snack for lunch or as a starter to a more elaborate evening meal. It is also sometimes good if you are in late and want supper - but not something too labour intensive. Of course, if you can't be bothered at all - skip everything apart from the chorizo and bread and make an even quicker bite.

Chorizo and broad beans

I love this. I love the contrast beween the smokey, spicy, fatty meat and the fresh green beans.

glug of olive oil
can of broad beans, drained
chorizo sliced up thinly
garlic - crushed with the back of a knife
red onion sliced thinly [for some reason I like the onion half moon shaped rather than finely chopped]

In a large, shallow frying pan heat up some olive oil and add the garlic - allow to cook for 2-3 minutes

Remove the garlic - you just want to flavour the oil - and add the onions and cook gently until they are translucent - you don't want them singed/burnt

Add the green beans and cook gently for 5 mins

Remove the beans and onion and keep warm

Add the chorizo and cook gently to release the lovely orange oils

Take the pan off the heat and add the beans and onion back in and stir

You can then serve this three ways -

Over thickly sliced and toasted ciabatta or your bread of choice

With plain cooked pasta - the chorizo oil is enough of a dressing

With rosemary fried potatoes

Chorizo and pasta

tinned tomatoes
basil - a handful of chopped leaves
garlic - crushed
olive oil
pasta of your choice - I like chunky pasta for this
bread - to mop up the juices
some kind of green vegetable e.g. peas, broccoli

In a small pan cook the garlic in the olive oil then add the tomatoes and basil - this makes a basic pasta sauce which can be frozen - for best results make the day before

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onions gently - when they are transulcent add the chorizo and fry for 4-5 minutes

Put your pasta on to cook - if you are using broccoli or peas add to the pasta pot towards the end to cook with it [if you are using broad beans, fry with the onion and remove while the chorizo cooks]

Drain the pasta and plate up - ladle your pasta sauce over it - then top with the chorizo and onion mix - lovely!

Mop you plate with bread and accompany with a nice glass of red.

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