Tag Archives: Chorizo

Chicken chorizo meatloaf

I really can’t leave well enough alone. A little while ago, I made some tasty little cocktail meatballs with chicken and chorizo. They were a raging success, and I blogged about them and set the recipe aside. By rights, that should have been it.

And then I kept thinking about them. I had a theory that meatballs and meatloaf were just the same thing in different guises. Clearly, the only way to prove this was to try the recipe again in meatloaf form. So I did, and I think it’s even better this way.

The quantities here yield a fairly small meatloaf, enough for four hungry eaters or six demure ones. I love just how different it is from a traditional meatloaf’s beefy softness and sugary glaze. The flavor is deeper and more interesting, with the spicy sourness of the chorizo tempered and rounded out by the mild-mannered chicken. I added a poblano pepper to the vegetable mix this time around, which was lovely both for its sharp flavor and the flecks of green it contributed to the loaf itself. The whole thing is vaguely Southwestern in flavor, a sort of Tex-Mex thing, which makes it both special and casual, the kind of homespun main course that impresses without coming off as fussy.

When I made this recipe as meatballs, they turned out loose and soft, threatening to collapse under their own weight. With the meatloaf version, that wasn’t a problem. The mixture shaped easily and held together perfectly, baking up slightly crusty on the outside and incredibly juicy within. Even though it took us close to an hour after the meatloaf was cooked to actually eat it, it was still warm and inviting inside when we sliced it. It yielded obligingly under a bread knife, as easily as cutting warm butter.

There’s also another reason this works better as a meatloaf, I think: the texture. The recipe calls for crushed tortilla chips in place of the usual breadcrumbs. Last time, I wrote that processing the chips in a food processor would break the chips down finer; I was wrong. I tried processing them, which didn’t accomplish much, so I switched to bashing them in a zip-top bag with a rolling pin; after a lot of noise and mess, they were still much coarser than ordinary breadcrumbs. In meatball form, that chunkiness was less than ideal; in meatloaf, it’s wonderful. I find traditional meatloaf texture to be a bit boring, and this is anything but, with soft nuggets of tortilla and slippery bits of onion and pepper. That alone is enough to earn this recipe a spot in my regular dinner rotation.

chicken chorizo meatloaf

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Chicken chorizo meatballs

It’s pretty well established here that I’m a compulsive recipe-tinkerer. I’m also a big fan of returning to recipes I’ve already played with, and tweaking them to make something new. Usually, when I do that, I tend to keep the bones of the recipe the same. But every so often, I’ll come back to a recipe I riffed on months or even years before, and decide to make something entirely different from it.

For example. About four years ago now, my friend Mel tipped me off to an online cooking show her friends were doing, called Economy Bites. The show is sadly now defunct, but I loved it for its goofy spirit, its no-bullshit realness and its creativity. One of the recipes on the show was a chicken and chorizo meatloaf, which inspired me to start mixing ground meat and sausage, which eventually morphed into my turkey andouille chili recipe–still one of my signature and most-requested dishes. But even with the triumph of the chili, I still thought about that meatloaf, and wondered what other directions I might take it in.

My friends were throwing a finger-food potluck, so I decided to make a batch of Southwestern-ish cocktail meatballs. This time, I stayed a bit more literal to the inspiration: chicken and chorizo. The original recipe called for the hard-cured Spanish chorizo, but I swapped in the squishy Mexican stuff. It blended in with the ground chicken, giving the meatballs a smooth and succulent texture. It also made the meat mix fairly delicate and loose, compared to the meatballs I usually make. They were a bit challenging to shape, but the payoff was juicy, tender, almost airy meatballs. The chorizo rounded out the chicken’s blandness with richness, sourness, and a tiny touch of heat; I could easily see these as game-day party fare, alongside a plate of nachos or chips and salsa.

Speaking of chips: there’s another twist in here, which I’m pretty proud of. Because we had a gluten-free partygoer (and I’d forgotten to buy breadcrumbs), I decided to crush up tortilla chips to use as a binder. The crumbs worked beautifully to soak up fat and juices, while adding a hint of cornmeal sweetness to the mix. I crushed my chips in a bag with a rolling pin, but I think pulsing them in a food processor would have worked even better. The finer the crumbs, the smoother the meatball texture–and with these, smoothness is absolutely a virtue.

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Spaghetti squash with chorizo and tomatoes

I love the internet. (I also loathe and fear it. It’s a complicated relationship.) My modest little blog has started connecting people in unexpected and delicious ways, and I am just tickled pink.

For example, the lovely and talented Daisy stumbled across this blog a while ago, and commented on a recipe I posted. My (also lovely and talented) friend Molly saw Daisy’s comment, and clicked over to her blog. Molly made and loved several of Daisy’s recipes, and now Daisy’s spaghetti squash with sausage and tomatoes has gone into heavy rotation at Molly’s house. And I, the not-so-innocent bystander, sit on the sidelines and clap with glee.

Over the weekend, a big group of friends gathered for an impromptu dinner, and Molly spearheaded the making of a giant batch of squash. Four squashes, to be exact, and three skillets of sausage and tomato, with at least two bottles of wine and a growler of beer to keep us company while the squash roasted. Following Molly’s lead, we tweaked the recipe slightly from the Italian-inspired original, subbing in chorizo for the Italian sausage and adding a fat glug of red wine to the sauce. It made a satisfying mess of the kitchen, as we tried to fork the squash into strands while it was still hot and ended up dropping bits of it all over the stove. (I have the burned fingertips to prove it.)

If you haven’t yet experienced the smell of chorizo, tomatoes, red wine, and garlic cooking in olive oil, I highly recommend it. It’s the kind of smell I would happily wear as perfume, if only I could bottle it. We used Mexican chorizo–the raw, squishy kind–which gave the sauce a sharp sour-chili warmth and a slight bitterness. You could just as easily use the hard-cured Spanish chorizo, which would give a sweeter, smokier flavor and provide more of a chewy texture contrast with the noodly-crisp squash. Either way, the squash will drink up the fatty, winey sauce and become far more delicious than a vegetable has any right to be.

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Potato, chorizo, and pepper frittata

I’ve been making a version of this frittata for years. And thanks to my friend Elly, I think I’ve finally hacked the technique.

It’s not a secret, certainly, that eggs + potatoes + peppers + sausage = phenomenal breakfast. Combine them in a frittata–a sort of chubby omelet or crustless quiche–and you get something deeply comforting and filling for fairly little effort. A frittata can be eaten warm or at room temperature, on a plate or on the go, for any meal of the day. I’ve done the potato-pepper-sausage thing more times than I can count, and it’s still my favorite frittata filling.

That said, I’ve had a dicey relationship with frittata for a while. The usual method I used is to cook the filling on the stove, then mix in the eggs and scramble them until they just start to set, then finish the whole thing under the broiler. It makes for a very pretty final product–golden brown on top, solidly firm all the way through–but I just didn’t like the texture. My frittatas always ended up grainy and tough, and the browned top tasted more bitter than delicious. For a long while I stopped making frittatas, because I was tired of laboring over delicious fillings only to wind up choking down a mass of crumbly egg.

Enter Elly and her genius technique. Instead of starting the eggs in a hot pan and finishing them under the broiler, she suggested cooking them all the way through in a moderate-hot oven. We went to the farmer’s market for ingredients: firm Spanish chorizo, golden potatoes, curly frying peppers, scallions. I started out the usual way, sauteing everything in an oven-safe skillet on the stove. Then, after sliding the pan off the heat and letting the filling cool for a second, Elly added the eggs and we slid the whole assembly into a 400-degree oven to bake. 15 minutes later, I pulled out a gorgeous golden egg-cake, puffed and set but not at all browned. It was tender and smooth all the way through, and the eggs had gently absorbed the flavors of pepper and potato and onion. That frittata got eaten so fast, I didn’t even have time to photograph the wedges on a plate. With a tangy spinach salad, it made for a glorious Sunday lunch.

One note: in order to really pull this off well, your skillet must be both oven-safe and nonstick. I used a stainless steel skillet, and while the frittata did come out with some effort, it left behind a heckuva mess. If you don’t have an appropriate skillet, I’d suggest sauteing the filling first, then finishing the frittata in a generously greased or parchment-lined 9×13 baking dish. The cooking time may be slightly different this way, so keep an eye on it.

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Enfrijoladas with chorizo and greens

For me, a warm corn tortilla is one of the most comforting foods there is. My childhood babysitter was from Guatemala, and she got me hooked early on. I still remember her spreading corn tortillas with butter, sprinkling them with sugar, rolling them into loose cigars on a plate, and microwaving them for just a few seconds, until the outside was steamy-warm and the inside was gooey. For a small child, there was no better afternoon treat.

I still take a lot of solace in corn tortillas, whether they’re simply steamed naked or doused in sauce. For the most part, I prefer to get my fix outside my house, at a local Mexican/Salvadoran dive that makes the best enchiladas in town. But recently I stumbled across a recipe for a tortilla dish I’d never seen before, where the sharp-and-spicy chile sauce was replaced with a thick robe of rough-pureed beans. Enfrijoladas. The bones of the dish are the same–tortillas soaked in sauce, sometimes filled with protein, rolled or folded–but the impact is totally different. Each bite is hefty, creamy, almost peanut-butter-thick. This is stick-to-your ribs Mexican food, but without the accompanying lardiness we Americans are so used to.

There’s something almost meditative about making a dish like this. It’s the kind of thing that forces you to get your hands and dishes and stovetop messy, dipping tortillas in warm sauce and folding them over themselves, laying them on a plate and scattering over a coarse-crumbled handful of queso fresco. In this case, there’s no baking to worry about, just assembly, so that you can hand off the bean-soaked tortillas to be eaten as soon as they’re folded. I used a pair of tongs to manipulate the tortillas in and out of the sauce, but folded them by hand, licking the starchy-chunky sauce from my fingers as I went.

Honestly, a tortilla this heartily dressed doesn’t really need a filling. Just drenching the tortillas in bean sauce and folding them over themselves would be enough. But I was feeding Sam, too, and he had a craving for sausage. So I cooked up a mass of Mexican chorizo–the squishy pork kind–to spoon into the bellies of the tortillas. I had the leftover greens from a bunch of radishes hanging around, so I whacked at them a little with a knife and wilted them into the chorizo. It would have been far too aggressive a filling for an enchilada, but for the creamy-mild bean sauce, it turned out nicely: gooey and pungent and just a touch spicy, with the milky saltiness of the queso fresco to round everything out. With a vinegary chopped salad and a cold fizzy beverage, these tortillas made for one soul-soothing dinner.

enfrijoladas

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Arroz con cosas

Oh, paella.  I love you so.

From the moment we clicked “Confirm” on our plane tickets till we first set foot in Barcelona, I thought of nothing. but. paella.  Paella when I woke up every day.  Paella while I conditioned my hair in the shower.  Paella at work.  Paella at home.  Paella in the morning, paella in the evening, paella at suppertime…

And then we arrived.  And ate paella.  And it was GLORIOUS.  And I immediately began plotting how to make it for my very own self.

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