Wednesday, May 03, 2006

About Chorizo and Pimientos

The recent Puerto Rican Pig's Feet post had called for chorizo, but not very much. Plenty was left over. The intention had been to prepare a Portuguese clam and chorizo stew written up in the December, 2003, issue of Food & Wine.

A bit of coincidence relates to the book I just started reading: "A Cook's Tour" by Anthony Bourdain, New York, 2002, a gift from my friend Sarah. Yesterday, I happened to read the second chapter. It was about how the Portuguese deal with pigs in terms of the slaughter, celebration, preparation, and consumption. In short, they use all the entrails, many of which are likely end up in chorizo. Chorizo was never one of my favorites, but Bourdain got me psyched.

Here's some more about this author/chef/writer, etc.: I learned last night via NPR's food podcast that after an hiatus, Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show has returned to the Travel Channel at 9 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific). I'm not into watching the many cooking shows that are on TV, but hope to make this one an exception.

Alas, no clams were to be found within the time frame and geographical boundaries available to me. Here in Baltimore, Tuesday is typically as bad a day as Monday for sourcing seafood. What then to do with the left-over chorizo? The answer turned up in a cookbook that I'm ashamed now to say had been collecting dust in my library for years. It was Penelope Casas', Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1993. Under "chorizo" in the index was an appealing and easy to put together recipe for "Chorizo with Pimientos," which Ms. Casas described as in the manner of Manhattan's renowned "Cafe San Martin" Restaurant.

The ingredients called for two pimientos, "preferably home prepared." Reference was made to another section of the book, namely the glossary. There, Ms. Casas describes pimientos as "nothing more than the Spanish word for peppers," which in America means cooked and peeled red peppers typically sold in jars. You can do better by purchasing a fresh red bell pepper. Ms. Casas' means of transforming a fresh red pepper to pimiento is simple, and I've included it in her recipe. Even if my original thinking was "Portuguese," I'm convinced now that here is a fine example of how the culinary sensibilities of these two neigboring countries intersect.


1 pound chorizo sausage, in 1/4 inch slices
4 tablespoons dry red wine
2 pimientos (prepared according to instructions below), cut in strips
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced

To prepare the pimiento, place two red bell peppers in an ungreased roasting pan in a 375 degree oven for 17 minutes. Turn the peppers and roast for another 17 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, then peel, core, and seed before cutting into strips. Now, on to the main recipe: Place the chorizo slices in a large skillet(no greasing necessary) and saute until lightly browned. Pour off the fat, if any, deglaze the pan with the wine, and add the pimiento, parsley, and garlic. Line a shallow casserole, preferably Spanish earthenware, with a large piece of foil that extends far over the sides. Add the chorizo mixture and close the foil tightly, leaving a large air pocket above the chorizo. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Present in the foil, then open the foil to serve. Serves 2 as main dish, 6 as appetizer.

from Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1993.