Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Real Dish

Some years ago, on a trip to H-Mart, I discovered Mexican chorizo. These fat pork links are more like a finely ground paste of fresh (uncured) meat that's been stuffed into plastic than an actual sausage. Remove the plastic and the meat falls into fine crumbles.

My favorite application for Mexican chorizo is a pasta dish, oddly enough. I made it up as I went along, and every time I make it I change it up just a little bit. It's also great as a bruschetta topping.

theminx's Chorizo Topping

1 medium onion, chopped
2 Mexican chorizo, preferably Supremo brand
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
1 Tablespoon honey, or to taste
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed or finely minced
salt and pepper

Optional ingredients

handful of chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped leftover chicken
3 or 4 chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
Raw shrimp or scallops
chopped walnuts
frozen peas or edamame

Place onion and mushrooms (if using) in a sauté pan with a tiny splash of oil (the sausage is fairly fatty and will add more oil to the party) and a pinch of salt to bring out the moisture. Cook for a few minutes on medium-high heat until the onion begins to soften.

Remove chorizo from plastic casings and add to pan. Break sausages apart with wooden spoon and stir into the onion mixture. The onions will take on a reddish hue from the sausage. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are limp and meat appears dry. Add honey and vinegar and stir well. The the flavor should be slightly sharp and a bit sweet, with an interesting piquancy coming from the sausage spices. Stir in garlic.

The "sauce" will be very dry - if you want it to be more liquidy, add the optional tablespoon of tomato paste and about 1/2 cup of water. At this point, you can add any or all of the optional items. (When I made this dish the other night, I used leftover chicken from the night before, plus a dozen or so medium shrimp, peeled.) Cook until additions are warmed through, or in the case of seafood, cooked until opaque. Season with salt and pepper, if needed/desired.

To serve

Cooked pasta (about 1 lb)
Chopped green onion
Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

I like to put the sauce on the pasta, because it looks prettier, but you can toss the sauce and pasta together in the pan, adding a bit of the pasta cooking water if you want more liquid. Garnish with scallions and cheese.

The flavors are dark and spicy, with a little agrodolce (sweet and sour); the addition of scallion brings some nice bright greenness, the cheese some creaminess. There are also lots of textures going on in this dish - crumbly chorizo, soft meat, crunchy walnuts, etc. It's really quite fantastic and very easy.

If you give this recipe a try, please let me know. I hope you enjoy it.