Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ah, finally! Chorizo Carbonara

Chorizo Carbonara
River Cottage Every Day Copyright 2009 

5 ounces spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
1 cup Tupperware Mexican Chorizo, crumbled (or Spanish chorizo, diced quite small)
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add the pasta to a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the chorizo and fry briskly for about 10 minutes, until crisp and cooked through. If you’re using the soft Tupperware chorizo, you can start with a bit of a lump and break it up with a spatula as it fries, so it forms lots of succulent little nuggets and crumbs, thereby maximizing the surface area available for crisping.

Beat the egg yolks and cream together and season lightly (since the chorizo is already highly seasoned). When the pasta is done, drain thoroughly and immediately return it to the hot pan. Tip in the crisp chorizo, followed by the egg mixture. Use 2 forks to mix the eggy cream into the hot pasta. It will cook in the heat of the pasta, coating each strand in a light, creamy sauce. Serve right away, with a final grinding of black pepper on top.

Tupperware Mexican Chorizo

1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, coarsely minced
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tsp hot smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp fine sea salt
1½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup red wine
Freshly ground black pepper
A little rapeseed or olive oil for frying

Put all the ingredients except the oil into a bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands, squishing the mix through your fingers to distribute the seasonings evenly.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan, break off a small piece of the mixture, shape into a tiny patty and fry for a few minutes on each side, until cooked through. Taste to check the seasoning, remembering that the flavours will develop further as the mixture matures. If you're a heat fiend, you can add more cayenne and black pepper.

Cover the mixture and store in the fridge for at least 24 hours before using; this will allow the flavours time to develop. It will keep for about a week.

While I obviously often come across recipes that I want to make, less often I come across a recipe that I really want to make, one that won't leave my brain.  I may not jump up and make the recipe immediately.  In fact, sometimes it may take me years to get to it, but I won't forget about it.

It didn't take me years to make this recipe, just months, but I would have made it sooner if not for one thing - finding hot smoked paprika proved to be a bit of a challenge.  I tried my usual hard-to-find-ingredient go-to place - Wegman's. I checked every grocery store I stepped in.  I couldn't even find it on Penzey's site although I have to believe it was there somewhere.  I did find another online source but it seemed ridiculous to pay shipping to buy a spice for one untested recipe.  I gave up.  I took this book back to the library. 

Then, lo and behold, I was in a TJ Maxx (or Marshall's or one of those stores that are basically all the same store) and there was a can of hot smoked paprika for $3 or $4 in the gourmet food section.  Jackpot!  I checked out this cookbook the next time I went to the library and made this recipe.

Now, one thing about these recipes that I can't get out of my mind - sometimes they are a big disappointment.  This one was not, I'm glad to say.  The sausage was a tad too salty, my fault probably since I used regular table salt, not 'fine sea salt' (I have since picked up some fine sea salt) and I used cooking wine which I usually don't have a problem with but I should have known better than to not adjust the salt.  Keeping raw meat in the fridge for a week seems like a long time - maybe all that salt helps it last longer. (I did eat some of this at a week old and lived to write this blog post.)

It wasn't terribly hot. It could have been a touch hotter. I was too lazy to cook up a little and check the seasonings.  I might add more cayenne or some chili flakes next time.  This is definitely something I want to make again.

I made the carbonara 2 or 3 times (a half recipe at a time, a very healthy portion for one person).  I loved it.  I made chorizo and scrambled eggs, with a touch of havarti cheese.  It was delicious.  I wanted to make little meatballs (the suggested preparation of the sausage in the cookbook) but I didn't get to them. Oh, I also fried up a patty of this and made a little sandwich for a quick dinner one night.  It was very good on it's own.  I froze what was left of the sausage mixture.

As you can see, I'm still here.  I'm still cooking but when I look at my backlog of recipes, it all looks quite boring. I'm starting to believe I will never be a regular blogger again but at the same time, I'm not ready to say my final farewell either. I think when the heat subsides I will start getting a bit more aggressive about finding new recipes the boys might like. This blog has fallen towards the bottom of my to-do list right now.

Oh, here's Dan's 4th birthday cake.

It was made under-the-gun and I thought it was cute but it went straight in the trash. I made the cake layers ahead of time and froze it since I had time constraints to deal with.  Something went wrong - maybe the baking powder had lost it's spark.  The layers looked okay on the top half but the bottoms were dense and looked uncooked.  They passed the toothpick test. Thank God this cake was only for the three of us.  WTH?  I've never messed up a cake like that before.  Oh well, the cupcakes were good (they were from a box !)