Taste, Adding More Chorizo if Necessary

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By Daniel Meyer

I recently moved to the stretch of 5th avenue in Brooklyn where Mexican food is king. Leaning out my front door I can see crates of chiles and cactus, giant plastic tubs of watermelon juice, and can smell gorditas deep-frying in corn oil (off-putting, strangely enough.) Brussels sprouts don’t exist here, (I checked) but tomatillos literally spill out on to the supermarket floor. Chorizo, like Entenmann’s or Little Debbie, sometimes gets its own display at the end of the aisle. It’s very comforting to see a community tailored so perfectly to the needs of its own home cooks.

Back to that chorizo, the fresh Mexican kind. I’ve eaten it only sparingly since I moved here; in a way, it’s so easy to get that I’ve stopped wanting it. I made it once, (pork shoulder ground in the food processor, mixed with plenty of paprika, cayenne, cumin, coriander, and garlic, and fried until crisp) but that was about it.

This week I needed some to test a recipe: chipotle-spiked sweet potato mac and cheese with crunchy chorizo crumbs. It made me remember how I like fresh chorizo best: as a garnish. Literally. Peel away the casings and fry the meat, breaking it up into little bits with a wooden spoon, until crisp. Use it to top gratins where you might otherwise use breadcrumbs, sprinkle over sliced avocados with lime juice, on eggs, on soup, toss into salads or roasted vegetables, (it’s even great on oatmeal with some cilantro and scallions.) Having a bowl of it cooked and ready to go in my fridge this week has been quite productive, though dangerous going forward: it’s as easy to find here as salt.

Posted in Mexican, Recipes

Easy Paella with Chorizo, Clams, and Peas

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By Freya Bellin

Certain dishes intimidate me, and paella has always been one of them. It has a level of authenticity about it that makes it rather daunting to try to replicate. However, if you let go of the need to make it perfectly traditional, it turns out to be pretty easy to make delicious paella at home.

I was surprised to find that the recipe calls for neither pimentón nor saffron, both of which I associate with paella. I considered adding a dash of one or the other anyway, but the recipe is right; the dish definitely doesn’t need the extra flavor. The chorizo has a spicy smokiness that pervades the whole dish. Make sure you use the type of chorizo that comes wrapped like salami or a hot dog because you need to be able to dice it. The more sausage-like chorizo will crumble when you cut through the casing. Instead of fresh tomatoes, which are hard to find this time of year, I substituted 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes, and then used the juice from the canned tomatoes instead of 1 of the cups of water.

If you’d rather skip the seafood, this dish will still be great. Being a novice clam steamer, I overcooked mine so they didn’t add much to the paella, but it did highlight how great the rice is even without it. If you’re hungry and just want to dig in, you could skip the last step of toasting the rice, but if you can wait, your patience will be rewarded—the crust at the bottom of the pan is easily the best part of any paella.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Seafood

Call it Pasta, Potatoes, and Chorizo

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by Edward Schneider 

I’m not entirely sure what Jackie and I had for dinner on Friday night. I am sure that it was delicious, felt great in the mouth and was fun to eat (with a spoon – the best tool), and I’m pretty certain about what it was not: it wasn’t pasta cooked like a risotto, because I didn’t gradually add liquid and keep stirring; it wasn’t fideuà (the paella-like noodle dish of Catalunya), because I didn’t brown the pasta or use a sofrito or leave the pan uncovered. It was … well, let me tell you how I made it, and you can tell me what it was. 

It came together as I was cooking, and it started with a yen for pasta. In the house was a farmers’ market treasure: small, firm new-season potatoes. There are Ligurian dishes of pasta and potatoes, often with green beans and pesto, and these are delicious, but I didn’t feel like making pesto (even in a food processor, which is really the most sensible way to do it) and, anyway, there were no beans. There were juicy new onions, though, and little Spanish chorizos – the ounce-and-a-half ones that come four to a vacuum-sealed pack – and parsley and a bit of chicken stock. And of course many shapes of pasta from the drawer that Jackie refers to as our pastateca. Oh – and half a cup of pan gravy from a roast chicken. 

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Posted in Italian, Mexican

I Made Chorizo!

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By Barbara Walton

I tasted my first dry-cured sausage in France, purchased on impulse in Beaune’s Saturday open-air market. My husband and I brought them back to our rental house, where we ate them in the walled garden paired with a bottle of Burgundy. I remembered those sausages a few years later when I purchased Ruhlman’s and Polcyn’s book “Charcuterie” and there it was – a whole chapter on dry-cured sausage.

It was daunting. If the sections on identifying good-versus-bad mold or avoiding trichinosis aren’t scary enough, check out the half page dedicated to the dangers of botulism. But given the state of food lately, with salmonella in eggs and E-coli in hamburger and lettuce, how much scarier could it be? I had to try it. Continue reading

Posted in Spanish

Sunday Supper: Meat-y Paella

[This week I wrote about peas (and offered up some recipes) in my column Kitchen Daily. My feeling, in general, is that frozen peas work just fine in many applications, and throughout most of the year, so there’s no reason to get hung up (or feel guilty) about using them. Of course if there’s any time you’re going to use fresh peas, this is it (as long as you don’t mind shelling them). That’s especially true if you’re going to serve them solo, but, really, for a paella? I almost always use frozen and neither I nor (I think) anyone else knows the difference.]

Meat-y Paealla

Makes 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

[Adapted from How to Cook Everything]

Far from a major production, basic paella is a simple combination of rice and other good stuff; terrific Sunday night dish and a staple in coastal Spain for centuries.

3 1/2 cups any stock or water

Pinch saffron threads

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces Spanish chorizo or other cooked or smoked sausage

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/2 dry white wine

1/2 cup tomato puree

2 cups short- or medium-grain rice, preferably paella rice or Arborio

1 cup peas (frozen are fine)

1 cup peeled shrimp (about 1/2 pound), cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Warm the stock with the saffron in a small saucepan. Put the oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, cook the chicken until deeply browned on both sides, then add the onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the chorizo, paprika, wine, and tomato purée; bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice, scattering it in the pan as evenly as possible, cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s shiny, another minute or two. Carefully add the warm stock  and peas and stir until just combined, then tuck the shrimp into the top before putting in the oven.

3. Put the pan in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 15 or 20 minutes. Check to see if the rice is dry and just tender. If not, return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes. If the rice looks too dry at this point, but still isn’t quite done, add a small amount of stock or water. When the rice is ready, turn off the oven and let it sit for at least 5 and up to 15 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with parsley. If you like, put the pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.

Posted in Recipes, Spanish