Chorizo Jam

Recipe: Chorizo Jam (and ONIONS! Why do you hurt me so?)

Gird your loins, there is another chorizo recipe coming through. But this one is fabulous – even more than the others – even if I do say so about my own recipe my very self. Hey! It is chorizo week after all. Self declared and right now confined to, er, one London household, but I think this thing could get really big, you know? No? But I want to talk about onions too.

Onions. So important, yet so traumatic. One slice, and that acid sting stirs up and before long there are tears running down my face. Sometimes it drives me crazy (shakes fist at the sky!), other times I almost enjoy the gentle release and relish in the temporary sadness. Sadness is ok you know, as long as it is not ever present.

I thought that chopping onions in my food processor might ease the pain, but no. A small London kitchen has nowhere to hide from an onion ambush. And really, it is ok. Onions are onions, and a culinary war wound are those tears that rumble by. I will never be that person wearing onion goggles (although it is so bonkers, I have been tempted).

Would you like a juicy onion fact? I promise it won’t make you cry. And it is a lovely geeky one! Yes? Well you know why onions sting so? It is because sulphur is released as you chop onions and these mix with your innocent salty tears to form a light sulphuric acid. MY EYES! No wonder they sting so. But it is worth it.

Now, what brings this ramble on? Chorizo jam, my friends. Chorizo jam! You know of my bacon jam (it brings happiness to many a home and my breakfast table too) but chorizo jam, well this is new, at least here, and it is about time that I shared the recipe with you, forbidden as I am from sharing my current Project: BACON discoveries (with the many new bacon jams, bacon cakes, cookies, ice creams, suppers, cocktails, sweets and other joyful bacon things), until the book comes out next Spring.

Chorizo Jam in progress

Chorizo Jam in progress

This is good, very good. Joy in a teaspoon. It gives a deep savoury rumble to anything you add it to, with a hint of sweet spice too. The chorizo and onions are already sweet but the honey gives more, the sherry vinegar some throaty sourness, with some chillies floating on top, all sitting in a sticky cider caramel created by the slow gentle cooking down of the cider with the honey.

Note: you need a pan with a large area to make this, like a good large frying pan. This is essential to getting the stickiness that results from the slow caramelisation of the jam.

How to eat it? In a toastie, on its own, with cheese, stuff things with it (chorizo jam chicken kiev? HELLO). I made scotch eggs with it by mixing it with sausage meat. The possibilities are truly endless.

Chorizo Jam, getting nice and sticky (but not yet sticky enough).

Chorizo Jam, getting nice and sticky (but not yet sticky enough).

RECIPE: Chorizo Jam
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Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew

Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew (or Hello Autumn!)

Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew

Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew

Did someone declare it chorizo month? Was it actually me? I fear it was, and my fridge is full of the stuff. I bought lots of gorgeous cooking chorizo to bring home to my siblings a few weeks ago and in my rush to the airport forgot to bring it (sorry, if you are reading this, but it tasted really good, ahem).

My office / pantry / chaotic-room-full-of-stuff has lots of randomness purchased in London’s aladdin caves and brought home from my travels. So does my room. So does the kitchen. Every crack and cupboard is rammed full of something or other. Opening a cupboard door may result in an injury or it may provoke a gentle surprise when I am hit in the head by something fabulous that I forgot was in there. My task right now is to sort the whole mess out, which makes for great cooking.

Some of this mess right now is beans. Bags of them. Little ones, big ones, black ones, purple ones, speckled ones, white ones of all shapes and sizes. I love beans. All kinds. Spanish markets have a fantastic selection, and I went a bit crazy at the market in Seville loading my suitcase with all shapes and sizes. I am still making my way through them. Joyfully.

For this recipe, I pulled out my bag of Judion beans. Ta-da! Enormous and creamy, the skins are thick and the taste rich (for a bean). Beans are best cooked from dried, I find tinned and most jar ones soggy and limp. Why suffocate them for so long and kill the joy? It doesn’t take much effort to soak and boil them. They are best cooked not long after you have purchased them too, as they get quite tough as they age. These cooked quite quickly after an overnight soak, which is a testament to the quality of the produce at the market in Seville, as it is sometime since I bought them.

Cooking chorizo is soft and luscious. Spiked with paprika and creamy with fat, it goes with everything, but with these gargantuan white beans they are perfection. Have a look for some in your local deli, and failing that, you can buy cooking chorizo online from Brindisa (you can buy the judion beans there too). It is one of my favourite ones.

This is a great dish for this time of year and can be made in advance and served later for friends. It tastes better later too, so if you are organised, this is even more of a winner.

Recipe: Judion Bean & Chorizo Stew
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Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

Recipe: Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

I have Marcella Hazan to thank for the inspiration for this sauce. And a previous job that drove me crazy, which inadvertently introduced me to her. I worked for a branch of the publisher that published her books, and every Xmas we would get a £25 voucher to spend on a book published by them. I went to the food section (which I sadly did not work for), and spied Marcella’s book and ordered that.

I learned so much about Italian cooking from her, her recipes are very precise, authentic, and work brilliantly. Her recipes sometimes have stories woven in too, and she is charming to read. One of her most simple recipes, her tomato sauce, is something that I cook all the time at home still today. I also learned the rite of passage that is proper carbonara from her book. If you don’t have her book, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, you should buy it right away.

I am not alone. When Marcella recently passed away, many newspapers and blogs featured the tomato sauce recipe. The beauty of it is its simplicity and the use of great ingredients, which was Marcella’s hallmark. She never compromised. For this sauce, she used 2 x 400g tins of San Marzano tomatoes (protected by a DOP and more expensive, but so worth it) which she cooked with 5 tablespoons of butter and one onion (which was peeled, halved, and discarded after 45 minutes cooking, or when the butter separated from the tomatoes). It is a perfect sauce and so simple.

I use a lot of tomatoes in my everyday cooking. A tin of tomatoes can become so many things, and very quickly too. Yesterday, I had some fresh tomatoes, small fruity ones, that were on their way to becoming rotten if I didn’t use them very soon. Fresh tomatoes are great for a sauce but the skins and seeds can be a problem for texture and just plain getting stuck in your teeth. With larger tomatoes this can be resolved by peeling and deseeding, but doing this with tiny plum tomatoes would be akin to peeling grapes.

So, I stick them in my blender and blitz them, so that the skins are tiny near-invisible shreds and no longer a problem. The resulting tomato puree has a wonderful rich fruity flavour and is great for a sauce. You could pass it through a mouli at this point to get rid of the shrapnel, but I was hungry so I didn’t bother. And it didn’t really need it either.

I cooked the tomatoes with garlic, hot cooking chorizo and butter, for 45 minutes as Marcella does, and the result is a perfect Autumn sauce. Fruity and fresh from the tomato, the chorizo provides a perfect base note beneath it and the butter adds richness but it is still subtle. The whole thing jumps off the plate with intensity of flavour.

I used a soft hot cooking chorizo from Brindisa, a fridge staple for me since I first discovered it some years ago. In London, it is available from their shop and lots of delis, it is also available online. If you can’t get soft chorizo, don’t worry. Just use good dried chorizo. Use whichever pasta you like, I used a big shape that I had to hand, and that would house the chunks of chorizo perfectly, but linguine or spaghetti would be great too.


RECIPE: Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

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Recipe: Quail Eggs Diablo with Chorizo


Brunch! Quail Eggs Diablo with Chorizo

January demands delicious comfort. More than any other time of the year. It is so grim. All your money is gone, you have just seen all of your friends and now everyone is hiding at home. A spring clean no doubt looms after the Christmas chaos. I hate spring cleaning.

It just sucks, doesn’t it?

So why then, would you deprive yourself of the only nice things available to you? Nice food and drink?

Well that is my theory anyway. January should be a fun month. A month to evade the low grey sky hanging so gloomily over our heads and brighten things up a bit. Red tights with black dresses, yellow umbrellas. Whatever you can do to add a bit of sparkle, just do it.

I have been kick starting my 2013 mornings with firey brunches. Chorizo has been my best friend, and I have been combining it with all sorts of things, always eggs, sometimes braised lettuce, often smoked garlic. This morning I loved my brunch so much, I thought that even though I just have a photo on my phone, I must share it.

Picture the scene. Slothful in the flat in a giant pink dressing gown (think a pink Bear in the Big Blue House, it is a BIG dressing gown). Almost out of coffee but there is just enough. There is chorizo, but I am out of normal eggs. But I have quail eggs.

They will do. In fact this is better as the ratio of yolk to white is higher and I get 4 delicious yolks to dip my chorizo in.

I finely slice a small red onion and fry it gently for maybe 10 minutes, until it starts to crisp. I then add the chorizo, 75g, sliced in half and then sliced small. Slowly cooked for about 5 minutes. 1 tsp of a firey Mexican smoked chilli paste which I have come to use lots, Gran Luchito, is added and stirred through.

The bass notes are sorted so to lift this, I add a sprig of fresh rosemary, pines removed from the branch and finely chopped, and a finely chopped clove of smoked garlic. Then while this is cooking slowly, I gently crack the shells of four quail eggs with a sharp knife, and slide each egg slowly into a ramekin. I don’t want to break those precious yolks.

I stir the chorizo mixture one last time and make a hole in the middle (I use a small frying pan which is best for my brunches for one). Then in with the eggs, and on with the lid. These cooking gently for 2 minutes or so until the white is set and the yolk still fluid.

Handsome and delicious. I loved this spiky colourful brunch.


Chorizo, tomato, cannellini bean & coriander brunch

I’m all about the brunch at weekends, and at the moment as I am not working during the week, I am all about the brunch all the time. It’s got to stop, my waistline is not so forgiving of my brunch whims, but what’s one week of indulgence? 2 inches you say?

A recent trip to Brindisa means I have lots of their gorgeous cooking chorizo. I like the hot one, and this is the one I have today. A recent trip to Celia Brooks Brown‘s allotment affords me some really delicious and juicy tomatoes, which diced and fried with the chorizo, create the most wonderful sauce. I had a pot of home cooked cannelini beans, soaked overnight and boiled for just over an hour, scooping the white scum from the top as soon as it gets to the boil. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, home soaked and cooked beans are infinitely superior to tinned ones. They have a firmer texture and don’t have the oversweet flavour that most tinned beans have. A cupful of these with the tomatoes and chorizo, and this looks like a very robust and delicious brunch. It needs something else though. It’s tasty but needs something to blend with the strong flavours and give it a bit of a lift. I have fresh coriander, and it’s the missing jigsaw piece. The citrus notes pair perfectly with the juicy sweet tomato base.

I liked it so much I made it again for dinner. Easy-peasy. If you want to recreate, I used two chorizo sausages per person, one big and very good tomato, a handful of beans and a tablespoon of fresh coriander added at the end. Fry the chorizo in some oil for about 5 minutes, add the tomato and beans, and cook for a further 5 before adding the coriander at the end.  Really great with some good bread to scoop up the sauce. 10 minutes, one delicious brunch.


Leftovers on toast

Leftovers on toast

Leftovers on toast

Wandering home weary after a long day, the thought of the kitchen can be quite dispiriting. Even for me, a person who loves spending time in that room eating and playing with ingredients. Today was one of the very rare days that I just didn’t have the energy and after a long day in the office, I was only fit for laziness, so, I invested in a block of nice goats cheese and some red wine, and on my journey home I resigned myself to a pleasant end of evening tucking into both.

But then, I got home, and on opening the fridge remembered something I threw together yesterday and had a bowl of stored in the fridge: a very quick pancetta, chorizo, chickpea and spinach stew. Ridiculously easy and quick, I sauteed about 60g each of pancetta and chorizo, added half a tin of chickpeas, and a couple of handfuls of spinach at the end. The joy when I spied that bowl, all I did was reheat it with a little cream for moisture and luxury and ate it on a couple of slices of toasted ciabatta. Toast! Ah toast. Really, there’s some days that you really can’t beat it and today is one for me.

I’m happy now. And I’m tucking into that cheese with a glass of that nice red wine :)


Chorizo & Kale Carbonara

Chorizo & Kale Carbobanara

Carbonara is a dish I eat really frequently, usually the original pancetta one, as, purist as I tend to be, I want to do it the right way. Today I varied, as I had a bag of kale and some nice chorizo and some friends that I wanted to cook lunch for. Chorizo and kale are lovely together and I wanted to veer away from my usual chorizo & tomato sauce, which, while delicious, I make too often and I need some variety in my food.

So, after I came upon the idea of making a carbonara, I wondered, as it’s not just for me, wouldn’t it be nice to make it a little luxurious with a touch of cream? Purists, forgive me, carbonara should not have cream I know, but this has kale in anyway, so, surely, I can push it further? I added just a couple of tablespoons to the eggs and smothered the penne in it before adding the chorizo & kale. It was lovely, but feel free to exclude it, it should still be good.

This recipe was for 3 comfortable portions. The sauce takes only as long as the pasta so it’s a really quick meal. Forgive the photos, it was a bit of a battle taking the photo with a half working camera in low light, whilst catching up with old friends I rarely see, and (!)… without the pasta going cold. I am such a soldier, working in these conditions ;-)

Kale & Chorizo Carbonara

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