Chorizo seems to be the darling of magazine chefs at the moment, you can even buy something called chorizo in Coles. But its not chorizo, not even close, its more like a frankfurter with extra Hungarian paprika. So what is the difference you ask? Generally, the texture is the give away. If you can see chunks of meat and fat and it smells smoky, you have the real deal. If the meat is overly processed and a consistent white colour, its a dud.
Firstly, there are a whole range of cured and fresh sausages called chorizo, I'm talking about the Spanish ones, but just about any country that has a Spanish or Portuguese influence makes this style of sausage. Chunky cut pork meat and fat mixed with paprika is the main idea, but there is usually garlic, black pepper an some chili in there as well. Then come all the other options: hot (piquante) or mild and cured or fresh.
You use the fresh stuff as you would any other fresh sausage, but the cured one needs a bit of care. Don't store it in the fridge for too long as it will dry out, a week or so is OK, any longer and it needs to hang up somewhere dry. Generally, you remove the skin before using it but you can eat it if you like. Don't be afraid of the mouldy looking ones, these are often the best and spiciest.
There are loads of things you can do with chorizo, simple stuff like fried eggs with chorizo (the breakfast of champions!), add it to paella, with pasta, on bread with a bit of melted cheese. Then there are some fairly special dishes that really show it off. I can't remember where I found the dish bellow, but it really shows that Moorish connection to southern Spanish cooking.
Chorizo with spinach and persan feta
What you'll need:
- 1 x hot, cured Chorizo, sliced into small slices
- about 150 grams of spinach (baby works best)
- about 30g currents
- about 50g of Persan feta (Yarra Valley dairy works well)
- a palmful of roasted almond
- Olive oil
Start off by blanching the spinach, it needs to be a bit wilted and mostly dry. Heat some olive oil in a pan and then lightly cook the chorizo. What you are doing is influsing the flavour of the chorizo in the oil. While that is frying away, give the almonds a light bash in the morter and pessel, not too much just so they break into a couple of pieces. Once that's done add the spinach to the pan and toss it around to coat the leaves. Just before you take it off the heat, add the almond pieces for about 10 seconds then take everything out of the pan onto a serving plate. Let it sit for about 30 seconds and cool off, then throw the currents and feta top. Mix it in a little bit. Serve.