Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cavatappi with Chorizo & Black Beans

If I've learned anything over the last five years it's that mistakes in the kitchen aren't always the end of the world. Oh, sure, there have been plenty of times when some mistake I've made leads to a trip to the trash followed by a call to the local pizza place. However, many other mistakes have led to wonderful things that are equal too, if not better, than the original idea. I love it when that happens.

My newest example happened after I found this recipe on the Food & Wine website. As usual, I quickly scanned the ingredient list and jotted down the necessary items. After a quick trip to the store I was all set.

 In the kitchen I was ready. Onion sliced? Check. Garlic chopped? Check. Chili powder measured? Check. Pan heated? Check. Chorizo sliced?

Um, what was that?

Chorizo sliced? The chorizo I bought  was in no kind of form to be sliced as depicted in the Food & Wine recipe photo. It was soft and running a knife through it just resulted in little blobs of pork. After consulting the picture with the recipe I realized that chorizo called for was very different than what I had bought. What ended up in my cart at the store is what I always buy when a recipe calls for Chorizo - Mexican chorizo. What was this newfangled chorizo called for in the recipe?

A quick Google search shed all kinds of light on the proceedings. There are two different kinds of chorizo: Mexican and Spanish. How did I not know this? Yes, I realize it's called out specifically in the recipe and, no, I don't know how I managed to miss the part about sliced cured sausage. At the store I just picked up what I had always picked up in the past.

Faced with a hot pan and prepped ingredients I decided to just go with it and it ended up pretty darn tasty - no need to call the pizza place after this mistake. Think bolognese with a Tex-Mex twist.

Cavatappi with Chorizo & Black Beans
Unintentionally adapted from Food & Wine

I used Mexican chorizo, which is very different from the Spanish version. The Mexican version is raw pork mixed with chilis, spices and vinegar. It must be cooked. The Spanish kind is a cured sausage and most of the time can be sliced and eaten as is.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, casings removed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 lime, sliced in half (one to use while cooking the other before the pasta is served)
1/2 box of cavatappi (about 1/2 pound)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

First, heat the oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions and cook for a couple of minutes until softened. Add in the garlic, oregano and chili powder. Cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the chorizo and tomato paste to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and stir to break up the chorizo until it cooks through. Add the chicken broth and stir. Bring it all to a simmer and allow it to cook until it starts to thicken. Add in the black beans, half of the parsley and squeeze half the lime over the top before removing from the heat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the cavatappi about 8 minutes or so (or whatever the box recommends). Once cooked, drain and then add the pasta to the sauce. Toss to combine.

Before serving, squeeze a little lime juice over the top of each bowl along with a little parsley and feta cheese.


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