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Orecchiette with Chorizo

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I first tried chorizo almost two years ago. I was at the meat counter in Whole Foods, trying to decide what to get for dinner that night. The store associate asked me if I liked spicy food, which I do. He steered me toward the chorizo that was on sale. The Mister made quesadillas with it, and we loved it. 

Chorizo is a pork sausage, and depending on the variety, comes from Spain or Mexico. Spanish chorizo can be sweet or spicy, depending on how it's seasoned. It is cured, so it is hard and sliceable, like pepperoni, and can be eaten without cooking it. Mexican chorizo, on the other hand, is fresh, meaning it must be cooked before eating. Ground meat is stuffed into casings. It is typically always spicy. This dish calls for fresh Mexican chorizo. 

When I saw this recipe in Food Network Magazine's Weeknight Cooking section of the December 2011 issue, I immediately bookmarked it to try later. I finally got around to it recently (yeah, I bookmark a LOT of recipes). More often than not, I will alter recipes slightly to fit what's on hand in my kitchen, or based on taste preferences. I made this recipe almost exactly as written (I bought grape tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes by accident), because it sounded fantastic as written. 

This is almost a one-dish meal (you'll need one pot to cook the pasta, and the meal is finished in a skillet), and it's ready in about 30 minutes. The spiciness of the chorizo is tempered by the earthiness of the mushrooms. If you can't find chorizo, substitute hot Italian sausage. Just about any medium-sized pasta (farfalle, rotini, medium shells, etc.) can be substituted if you can't find orecchiette. 

Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage
Source: Food Network Magazine
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces orecchiette pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces fresh chorizo, casings removed
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Directions

  1. Thinly slice the white and light green parts of the scallions and set aside. Thinly slice the remaining dark green leaves, and set aside. 
  2. Fill a large saucepot with water, and set it over high heat. Once it's boiling, add salt to the water, then add the pasta, and cook according to package directions. 
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for about three minutes, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until it's starting to brown. 
  4. Add the white and light green parts of the scallions to the skillet, and cook for three minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally. 
  5. Add the garlic and the mushrooms, about½ tsp salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 3 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and brown. 
  6. Add the tomato halves to the skillet, and cook until starting to soften, about another 3 minutes. 
  7. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water with a ladle, then drain the pasta. 
  8. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and heat for a minute. Stir in the pasta and the cheese, adding some of the reserved pasta cooking water if the pasta sticks together. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine. 
  9. Divide among 4 dishes, top with reserved dark green parts of the scallions and grate some parmesan cheese over, if desired. 

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Ali

Wednesday 1st of August 2012

I love chorizo! Will definitely be trying this recipe - it sounds delicious.

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