Feast 43 – Chorizo means love in the language of cooking

I am in love with chorizo. That is the simple honest truth. The spicy, greasy, tangy flavor gets me every time. The first memory I have of chorizo, the first time I can say that I ever tried it was the week of my marriage. My supervisor at the time invited my wife and I over for dinner and he and his wife made a lasagna with chorizo instead of Italian sausage. It was a foreign, unexpected twist that probably has some part in setting the stage for what you are reading today. And so, this week, I am making a dish to accentuate chorizo, one of my favorite ingredients. It is also helpful that the bounty I received with Eddie’s departure included a package of chorizo so I had it on hand and needed to use it up anyway…

This week, as usual, is made up of three dishes, Chorizo and Cheese Chili Rellenos, Quelites con Frijoles (Spinach and Beans) and a Cilantro and Green Cabbage Slaw. All three recipes are sourced from the excellent El Charro Café Cookbook, a wonderful collection of recipes and anecdotes from a family operated Mexican restaurant in Tuscon. I have never been there but through the pages of the book and the recipes that I have tried, I feel like their dining room would be as comfortable as a favorite pair of jeans. I don’t mention cookbooks in my blog unless I feel they are worthy of attention so please, if you enjoy my style of cooking and value my opinion, get yourself a copy of the book or better yet, make a visit to Tuscon and try it first hand.

Chilis cooling on the pan

The Rellenos: Rellenos are quite versatile in that you can stuff them with just about any savory ingredient you like, change up the batter to meet your own preferences and top them with just about an compatible sauce you might think of… I went with a fairly basic interpretation here, roasted Anaheim peppers filled with a mixture of chorizo and shredded Mexican cheese, fried and topped with a sprinkling of cheese. Easy peasy and tasty. I have modified the recipe to feed just me as sad lonely greg is eating alone these days… Roast 2 anaheim peppers in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes until the skin starts to blister. Turn once during roasting. Let them cool slightly and then gently peel off the skins of the peppers, doing your best not to tear the peppers and leaving the stems intact. This is much easier if you put the peppers in a brown paper bag for 15 minutes to cool them, don’t ask me why, it just works. I didn’t have a brown paper bag so I just had to be careful. Carefully make a slit lengthwise in each pepper. Meanwhile, it a hot pan, crumble two links of chorizo, skins removed and quickly fry up to cook but not overcook the meat. Break up the meat as much as possible so that it resembles cooked ground beef with a tasty difference of course. Let the meat cool and mix with 1/2 cup of shredded Mexican cheese. Gently stuff the peppers with the chorizo and cheese mixture being careful not to overstuff the peppers as that would complicate your frying… make a batter from 2 eggs, 2 tbsps flour, a twist of salt and pepper, a drizzle of oil and copious amounts of cayenne pepper. This batter will turn out fairly thick and should coat the peppers well. It helps to pat the stuffed peppers dry with paper towels before dipping in the batter. Deep fry the chilis in hot oil until well browned, gently turning once during frying. Its critical to try to avoid the filling spilling out during the frying, I work out this problem by shallow frying the peppers so that they aren’t completely submerged, slit side up during the initial cooking and drizzling a bit of extra batter onto the top of the chili during cooking. This should soft set during the initial frying and create a barrier for when you turn them over. This may be too much work and there is probably easier methods, I don’t do enough deep frying to really claim much expertise in that area. Drain the peppers on paper towels and top with a bit of shredded cheese.

The Spinach and Beans: While on vacation in the states, I picked up some anasazi beans, primarily for their unique mottled coloration. I started the beans around 3 hours before the main meal preparation to allow them plenty of time to cook. Start simply with 2 cups of beans and 4 cups of water in a large pot. Add to this a whole head of garlic, peeled and crushed. A bit of salt, bring to a boil and then cover and simmer over medium heat for 2 1/2 hours. Sweat down a whole chopped white onion in a bit of oil until translucent. Add a package of frozen spinach and stir until the spinach incorporates into the onions. Transfer the spinach and onions into the pot with the beans and cook for a few more minutes. Stir in a 1/2 cup of half and half, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. The original recipe called for additional garlic and crumbled cheese in the beans but I skipped these, opting for a milder side dish to offset the rellenos.

Salad Arranged in Container

Cilantro and Green Cabbage Slaw: I enjoy salads that I can make by prepping all the ingredients, making a marinade and then just shaking the hell out of everything in a large tupperware to mix and coat. And believe it or not, that’s all the knowledge you need to make this dish. Make a dressing from 1/2 cup oil, the juice of one lime, 1 tbsp vinegar, 2 minced cloves of garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. Finely shred 1/2 a head of cabbage and combine with 1/4 cup of minced cilantro. Pour the dressing over the greens and shake in a covered tupperware to combine. Top with diced green onions, sliced cucumber and thinly sliced radishes. Finish off with some lime wedges and dried chili flakes. Chill for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Meal Plated and Ready to Eat

As usual, this meal provided points and counterpoints of flavors and textures, the key components I aim for when building a meal. The sharp flavors of the chili relleno were well balanced by the creaminess of the beans and spinach. The crisp coolness of the salad were a welcome diversion from the piping hot melted cheese and chorizo. Overall, tasty and well balanced. i hope that you enjoy it as much as I did if you choose to take the time to make it…

Five meals to go…

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6 Responses to Feast 43 – Chorizo means love in the language of cooking

  1. xtna says:

    Delicioso! Looks gorgeous and sounds tasty, too (what a conundrum sound and taste…anyway). I look forward to trying these dishes…I have fond memories of chile rellenos, growing up. Funny thing that as I child I wouldn’t have anything to do with them when my mom made them, but I love them now. And I like the idea of beans and spinach, but you know me, anywhere I can get a veggie verde in…Yeah!!! Just five meals left and then you will be catering to the pickiest people (I love alliteration) in the world—me and the munchkins!

  2. Greg The Elder says:

    I Remember a little bar in Madrid, The stuffed mushrooms were stuffed with fresh made Chorizo, God that was good. Love some of your taste combo’s

  3. dios mio, that looks damn good…

  4. Joe Wallace says:

    Congrats on being five weeks short. It’s all downhill from here. I had to final out at Kunsan and spent a few long days in Seoul before saying goodbye USAF…it was a surreal experience. How short will you be on the whole when Feast 48 hits?

  5. 48feasts says:

    5 days after that then i’m on a plane…

  6. Joe Wallace says:

    Thanks to you, I’m now an Anthony Bourdain fan. Punk meets kitchen. Nice.

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