I feel this random recipe should start with first, catch your hare (or if I’m being carnivorously correct, first catch your pig). This month’s challenge involved a trip to mmm… for achiote powder, somewhere else I can’t remember for sherry vinegar, an online hog casings purchase and, in a last minute panic, exploring an industrial unit in Byker.
Friends, this is not going to be a short post. Pour yourself a glass or mug of something and settle down.
To the beginning. Somewhere back before the madness hit, Dom over at Belleau Kitchen published this month’s Random Recipes Challenge. Following the rules I carefully counted out seventeen books and removed Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton’s Preserved from the bookshelf. Opening the book completely at random I found myself looking at two recipes. On the right Chargrilled Chorizo and Squid Salad. Yum, I thought, two of my favourite ingredients, this is a great choice. Then my eyes drifted to the left, where there was a recipe for making your own chorizo.
Why, oh why, did I look to the left?
Over the years I’ve come to realise that whilst I enjoy a good deli as much as the next person, nothing beats making your own food from scratch – you know exactly what you’re eating. Pasta, naan, jam, salsa: on a busy day I’ll buy them, but when I’ve time or a glut of ingredients I’ll roll up my sleeves, turn on some trashy TV and get creative.
A recipe for chorizo? Hell yes!
I mean, it didn’t look difficult. After all, I could have randomly opened the book at the build your own cold smoker page. (Every autumn I’m tempted. Every autumn my husband ensures there is another project to occupy me.) Simply mince pork belly, mix with spices, fill your hog casings, hang to dry. Bring it on!
First spices. Picante pimenton, which is a hot paprika made from smoked chillies. Ground achiote, also known as annatto powder. Sherry vinegar was also new to no 41. Thankfully we have some great food shops in Newcastle so I knew I’d get these ingredients easily. Next hog casings. Definitely an online purchase (hooray for the internet). Nick and Johnny recommended 40mm diameter hog casings – I couldn’t find any that wide, but did manage 38mm natural hog casings, on spools as well (easier to thread onto your sausage stuffer).
Two weeks into March and we’re ready to mince. I have a mincer attachment for my KitchenAid which made easy work of the pork belly (which I’d skinned – don’t know if I should or shouldn’t have, but I did). As I mixed in the spices (plus garlic, salt and pepper) I could start to smell the familiar rich chorizo flavours.
After 24 hours resting the pork belly in a cool place and 12 hours soaking the hog casings I roped in my husband to help with the stuffing (yes, you may insert your own joke here if you’d like). The KitchenAid was roped into service again as references were made to 1970s Saturday night television programmes. Before too long we had about 30 sausages hanging in the cupboard under the stairs.
As usual, time got away from me (I was making curtains, and that’s not a euphemism either) and before I knew it a week had passed – two days drying and four in the fridge – we were already one over the recommended cook by date. We needed to cook these beauties today – time to look for some squid. Only my busy (curtain making) schedule didn’t allow for a trip to the Fish Quay, and certainly not a Saturday afternoon visit to the Grainger Market in the centre of town. As I headed out in the car praying for inspiration I remembered seeing signs in Byker for a fishmonger with some pretty good prices. A few wrong turns later I was in a small industrial unit trying to persuade myself that I didn’t need crab claws or lobster tails, just squid (which they had – and very cheap too).
Roping in my shellfish cleaner we set to. I’ve made some changes to the recipe (such as what to do with the roasted garlic – an omission from the instructions – and I didn’t season the squid with paprika). We cut our squid so the pieces ended up very small – on reflection using baby squid means its a good size already.
This is a great recipe – light yet full of flavour – if I say so myself our chorizo was awesome – the dressing was slightly sharp with the balsamic vinegar and the potato filled the salad out. This serves two – for lunch. For dinner, I’d make a bit more – and looking at the amount of chorizo in our freezer, we can afford to!
- 1 red pepper
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- ½ aubergine, diced
- few sprigs rosemary
- 150g baby squid (about 8 cleaned & disemboweled)
- lemon juice
- 150g chorizo
- salad leaves
- Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees C
- Roast your red pepper by putting it directly on the oven shelf for about 30 minutes until blackened. Put it into a small plastic bag, then slip the skin off and take out the seeds when its cool enough to handle.
- Roast your garlic by slicing off the top to show the cloves. Drizzle a little olive oil over and wrap tightly in tin foil. Roast alongside the pepper for about 30 minutes. Unwrap and squeeze out the soft garlic cloves, again when they're cool enough to handle.
- Using a stick blender or food processor, blend the red pepper and garlic with the balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
- Put your diced potato in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well.
- Either saute your potato, aubergine & rosemary in the remaining olive oil over a medium heat, or bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown.
- Slice your squid tubes open and score lightly - no need to cut into smaller pieces. Season with lemon juice. Slice your chorizo into bite sized mouthfuls.
- Char grill the chorizo and squid until both are crispy and crunchy - I do this separately as I like my squid to remain white and less well cooked than the chorizo.
- Mix the potatoes, aubergine, chorizo, squid and salad leaves with the red pepper and garlic dressing. Taste and season if necessary.