4 years, 10 months ago
Our final stop…
A fantastic, Spanish recipe made in minutes with fresh chicken and Spain’s legendary chorizo.
by Karen Burns-Booth
INGREDIENTS (Serves 4 with leftovers)
Name one person who doesn’t have a ‘Why? Oh why?’ travel food story and we’ll show you someone who hasn’t packed a suitcase or owned a passport in their lives. The price we pay for wandering around the world and needing to eat now and then is the occasional linguistic mishap or, worse still, menu over-confidence. We can claim personal experience of the man who ordered andouillette in a smart Parisian cafe thinking it was ‘just sausage’. Only to have put the whole stinking mess in his trouser pocket and dispose of it in the toilet rather than fess up to the waiter that he wasn’t in fact a true Gallic gourmand but just someone whose grasp of French started and finished with ‘je m’appelle Pete’.
At the other end of the spectrum are those moments when we order the perfect dish in perfect (ish) Spanish or engage effortlessly in a local market by dint of a shared passion for food. Sadly these triumphs are less common and only seem to happen when there are no witnesses – an immutable cosmic law.
So since we’re celebrating food at the moment we thought we’d give you some potential heroism instead of humiliation to feast on this summer. Our second Lavender & Lovage recipe takes us to Spain, ‘One Pot Spanish Chicken and Rice’. It’s simple, delicious, cooked in a single pot and generously serves 6, plus leftovers – perfectly acceptable for breakfast on holiday, as you know. The secret of success for this dish lies in the chorizo. It’s the legendary sausage we all think we know but can be so easy to get wrong, here’s how not to.
You may very well think you’ve got this simple piece of pronunciation down. But in a high-stress shopping situation are you going to remember the Castilian ‘th’ or are you going to go full US cable tv cook and hit a low note with a buzzy ‘tz’? Yes, we’ve heard this beautiful sausage mangled in the mouth of everyone from Michelin starred chefs to show off restaurateurs and fumbling tourists. Enough. Tuck your tongue behind your teeth, forget ‘z’ ever existed and lisp it out flawlessly. It’s ‘choreetho’ and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Chorizo isn’t a mere sausage to the Spanish, it’s an almost sacred icon and woe betide the unwary visitor who doesn’t respect its regional variations and subtle nuances. Know your chorizo before you shop is our advice – you get a little bit of leeway for pronouncing it correctly but that dispensation only goes so far. For a start, acknowledge the spice. Piménton (paprika to the uninitiated) gives chorizo its distinctive fiery red colour and whether your loyalties lie with ‘picante’ or ‘dulce’ depends on whether you like spicy or not so spicy. Next chorizo decision is all about the cooking: are you or aren’t you? Soft chorizo is the stuff for cooking and the links are normally shorter, fatter and squidgier than the dry-cured version. You can eat soft chorizo uncooked, but it has quite a high fat content and is a bit of an acquired taste. Dry-cured chorizo you’ll know instantly if you ever so much as glanced at a plate of tapas. The chubby type is called cular and the long, thin chorizo are called vela. If you need to choose, try both for aperitivo with fresh bread and olives, then decide – if you can.
Knowing the basics is fine, but if you want to really hero out in foodie circles a little connoisseurship is always handy. Huge country that it is, Spain doesn’t stick to just one standard chorizo, every region has their particular pride and joy and some are more exquisite than others. If your choice seems pricey, the label may very well say ‘Ibérico’, it’s made from the meat of prize ibérico pigs and worth every penny. Chistorra is long, thin and looped and traditionally comes from Pamplona. The mother of all chorizo has PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). This is the ultimate sausage status symbol and marks it out as an authentic, traditional recipe – Chorizo Riojano from Rioja is one of the most famous. And, if adventure is what you seek, there’s also a wild boar chorizo known as jabali.
Not the definitive guide to the great Spanish sausage, we know. But it’s a pretty good place to start and while your chicken’s cooking and the wine is flowing we doubt anyone’s going to question your expertise.
Lavender & Lovage for this foody collaboration and we hope you enjoyed our recipe journey.