One of the nicest things about living back in England (aside from family, old friends and telly obviously), is being able to shop at Waitrose. Most expats in California can be turned instantly misty eyed at the mention of this most British of supermarkets. American friends – imagine a shop that is combination of the best bits of Whole Foods with Trader Joe’s but where you get a free espresso or cappuccino and newspaper each time you shop – I know right? Since I’ve moved back I do often find myself just wandering the aisles in a slightly yoga-esque mental state because it its just such a nice place to shop. And I can’t really think of a better word to describe it than nice in its purest sense. By the way this post isn’t sponsored by them, I am just a big fan.
The other day I was floating around Waitrose and popped a packet of ready chopped chorizo into my basket. I’m not usually one for ready chopped packaged things, but I am a chorizo greedy guts and I can’t really trust myself to eat sensible portions of it. Quite often when I’m cooking it, half of it ends up being eaten before it hits the plate. So for once I bought the sensibly portion sized packs which meant I only ate a ladylike amount of it for once.
To cook the chorizo cubes (and this type must be cooked, unlike the stuff that is harder and is cured so can be eaten raw). You just need to pop them into a non stick pan without any oil and cook them on a medium high heat until they release their oil to the pan and crisp up. Don’t let the fat police trick you into getting rid of that flame coloured oil as that is it is packed full of flavour and will infuse whatever you cook with gorgeousness. Within a couple of minutes of cooking you are well on the way to bringing brilliant salty, umami, smoky flavour and crunch to even the most mundane meals. Sold?
Mexican vs. Spanish Chrorizo
Mexican chorizo is much hotter than the Spanish stuff. And it is always sold raw so the texture is looser. I can’t recall seeing cubes like the ones I used in California so those of you over there will need to buy Spanish cooking chorizo and chop it yourself – not really that arduous. Until recently the FDA (boo hiss) banned the importation of Spanish chorizo but now they’ve seen sense. Some American companies have also started making it in the Spanish style. This brand – Dona Juana’s Chorizo Bilbao is available online or through most Whole Foods. And if it isn’t available at your local store, keep asking until they stock it.
Here are some of the other ways I use my beloved chorizo cubes:
- Try avocado on toast with crispy chorizo cubes scattered on top, and maybe a golden yolked fried egg if you’re going mad.
- Eggs scrambled in the the chorizo oil with the crispy cubes and chopped basil stirred through.
- Pasta tossed through the cooked chorizo along with a handful of rocket (arugula), a splash of sherry vinegar, some of the pasta cooking water, grated Parmesan and black pepper. If you have any jarred roasted peppers throw some of them in too.
- Stirred through warmed chickpeas (garbanzo) with wilted kale and sherry vinegar.
- As a base for a cheat’s paella – fry the chorizo cubes, add sliced garlic and red peppers then add a glass of wine and orzo pasta to the pan. Stir then add stock or water and simmer until the pasta is cooked – usually about 8 minutes. Just before it is ready, stir some raw prawns through the pasta and let them cook until they are pink. Sometimes I add frozen peas right at the end too. Finish with sherry vinegar, lots of chopped flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley) and black pepper.
And of course in the recipe that drew you in in the first place. This is easy peasy and a perfect dinner for one or two when time is tight but the demand for flavour is big. This stew is lovely on top of toasted sourdough or some kind of mashed potato or cauliflower but I made it with roasted purple sprouting broccoli because I felt I needed the greenery that day.
Why and how you need to start roasting your broccoli
If you haven’t roasted broccoli until now, please start. I’ve gone from feeling a bit meh about broccoli to being borderline addicted. Roasting it not only concentrates the flavour but it gives a lovely salty, toasty crunch. Forget kale chips, I can eat roasted broccoli by the bowlful, as can my boys which is of course a huge win. In fact I’ve taken to throwing some in the oven while I make dinner and serving it as a starter to them. By serving veggies as a separate course they are much more inclined to eat them.
You can roast any type of broccoli – the regular fat headed stuff or the Alexa Chung-proportioned (all stem/leg) purple sprouting, tenderstem or broccolini. Just cut your broccoli into even sized pieces, no thinner than a finger. Toss them in a little oil and sea salt and lay them in a single layer on a baking tin before popping them in a 200C/400F oven for 8-10 minutes. Ovens and broccoli size vary so check it after 5 minutes then keep an eye on it. Be brave and let it darken around the edges. Any leaves will crisp and the little baubles on the fat, treelike part will start to crispen too. Toss some acid through it when it comes out of the oven – lemon juice, sherry or wine vinegar is all good. The acid completes the work of the roasting by dampening down the cabbagy flavour to child friendly levels.
Stew ingredients (makes enough for 2 people)
1 skinless boneless chicken breast (a rare appearance of this bland cut of meat on here) or a handful of leftover shredded cooked chicken
1x 60g (2oz) pack of chopped cooking chorizo or buy Spanish cooking chorizo (see note above) and chop it into small cubes yourself
10-15 baby/cherry tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Prep your broccoli as per the instructions above and pop in the oven to roast while you make your speedy stew.
- Put your chorizo chunks into a non stick frying pan – no need to add oil. I use my Scanpan. Leave them to cook on a medium high heat, so that they sizzle and slowly start to release their oil. They will be cooked after a couple of minutes, but will take about 5 minutes to fully crisp up.
- While the chorizo cooks, slice your cherry tomatoes in half then set aside. Then slice the raw chicken into thin slices – about the thickness of a third of of a deck of cards. If you’re using ready cooked chicken, you’ll add it at stage 5.
- Throw the chicken into the pan of chorizo – which will have by now split into crispy chunks and fire coloured oil. Stir and cook for a minute before adding the halved tomatoes.
- Leave the tomatoes and chicken to cook for around 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes soften. Use the back of a silicone spatula to squish the tomatoes so that they form a thick sauce.
- Taste then gradually add the salt, pepper and sherry vinegar. Chorizo can vary in salt content so taste as you go. The vinegar transforms things so don’t leave it out. Scrape every last smear onto your roasted broccoli and serve.
The stew will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools.
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