Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Andrajos con Chorizo

I made this a few weeks ago...but it seems appropriate to post it now with the cold weather we are getting here in New Jersey...

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I studied abroad in Spain during my junior year of college. I was lucky to be in a program where we lived with a host family. Loli, my host mother (or “senora” as all the students called their host moms) was an excellent cook. At the end of the semester, I made sure to get her recipes for my favorite dishes, such as tortilla espanola, gazpacho andaluz, and san jacobo.

The recipe below is actually not one of Loli’s recipes, but it captures the intense flavors of Spain that I remember. I had to make some substitutions based on the availability of ingredients in the United States and the season. But it’s still delicious, nonetheless. Plus, it presents a wonderful opportunity for me to try making homemade pasta for the first time. "Andrajo" means "rags" in Spanish, so I can only surmise that the pasta is supposed to represent the "rags." According to Wikipedia, it is a common dish in the rural areas. It is often served in winter, making it appropriate for this season.

Andrajos con Chorizo
(Tomato and Chorizo stew with homemade pasta)
Adapted from One-Pot Spanish by Penelope Casas


For the pasta:
1 cup flour
¾ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt

For the stew:
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
½ Spanish onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb fresh chorizo,* casings removed and roughly chopped into ½ inch chunks
6-8 canned plum tomatoes, roughly chopped, plus about 1/3 cup of the juice**
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
1 Bay leaf
1 Tbs smoked paprika
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup sherry cooking wine***
Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredient notes:
* To be authentic, cured Spanish chorizo is best. But since there wasn’t any at the supermarket, so I settled for hot Mexican chorizo instead. I ended up with chorizo “balls” rather than slices of chorizo. But still good.
** Recipe called for five fresh plum tomatoes and 1/3 cup tomato sauce, but again I was limited by what was available at the store. Since it is no longer tomato season, the plum tomatoes were hard and pitifully pink. So I opted for canned. And since I already had the can, I subbed 1/3 cup of the juice for the sauce, rather than having to open another can. But if you are fortunate enough to get nice ripe tomatoes, I say go for it.
*** Original recipe called for a dry white wine. I used a sherry cooking wine, which I forgot was already seasoned with salt. If I were to do this again, I would not add any more salt to overcome this. Or use a real wine.

To make the pasta:
Combine flour, salt, and water together in a bowl until it comes together into a ball. (You may need more water). Flatten the ball into a disk about an inch thick. On a floured surface, roll the disk flat to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the pasta into circles, about 2.5 inch in diameter (I pressed the opening of a glass on the pasta to cut them. A biscuit or cookie cutter would probably work better if I had one). Cut the circles into quarters and set aside. Roll the scrap pasta into a ball and repeat until you no longer have enough dough left to make circles.

To make the stew:
In a large pot, heat olive oil. Saute garlic and onions until onion begin to get soft. Add chorizo chunks in a single layer and allow to brown for about a minute. Flip the chorizo and brown for another minute. Stir in tomatoes, juice, thyme, bay leaf, and paprika. Allow to cook for five minutes. Add broth, wine, and salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes.

Stir in pasta, and cook for about another 15 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Add more water if necessary.

Serve with a nice crusty bread. Makes about four servings.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Recap

So this is my first turkey! I have to give special thanks to my sister, who is the turkey expert in my family. In fact, she came over the night before Thanksgiving to prep and supervise the turkey cooking process. Thanks, sis!

I am quite proud of my turkey, even if it came out a bit salty. Lesson learned: Read the label more carefully in the future. It turns out I purchased a turkey that was a "basting" turkey, meaning it already had brine in it. And since we had already made the brine, we decided to brine it anyway.

Brining, in a nutshell, is essentially marinating your bird in a salt solution and seasonings, and any other flavor you want to add (we used apple cider). I had the Food Network on on T-Day while I was preparing other food, and nearly every chef sang the praises of brining.

We brined the turkey overnight in a large dishpan in my refrigerator, breast-side down. In the morning, I flipped it over, for even brining. Then around 2 pm, I prepped the turkey for baking. This entails three tasks: (1) spreading herb butter under the skin of the turkey (yes, under the skin - it fees a bit slimy, but a necessary step for crispy skin) (2) sprinkling seasoned salt over the outside of the bird and inside the cavity, and (3) dressing the turkey with the aromatics that we prepared the night before and stored in this ziploc bag:

In here, we have celery, lemon, fresh parsley, fresh poultry herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage), onion, and several cloves of garlic. Now, "dressing" is really a delicate way of shoving vegetables into both cavities of the bird. (yes, "cavities" - you can probably figure out what I mean by that). This is what the bird looked like before it went in the oven.

I then made a turkey breast "shield" out of aluminum foil, by pressing a double layer of foil over the breast. This is to keep the breast moist during cooking. It gets placed on the bird after it has a chance to brown, 30 minutes into cooking time. We make the shield now, though, while the turkey is still cold. I poured a can of chicken broth into the bottom of the pan, to keep the drippings from burning. I then stuck in the probe thermometer in the breast, and then into the oven it went! To get a nice golden brown skin, the turkey roasted at 450 degrees for the first thirty minutes. Then I dropped the temperature to 300, and placed the breast "shield' and just let the turkey slow cook until the alarm on the thermometer went off when the inside of the breast reached 161 degrees! (This took about four hours).

This is what the turkey looked like, straight from the oven.

Here is the method in a nutshell, courtesy of my sister:

The night before, brine the bird overnight

season the bird w/ salt/pepper/herbs on all surfaces, in and out

spread herb butter under the skinfill the cavity w/ aromatics (onion, celery, garlic, lemon, herbs)stick probe thermometer in breast

Add a can of broth to the pan - may help it smoke less during the initial roastroast at 450-500 for 30 min to brown it (open windows and blow out any smoke)

put foil over the breast onlyroast at 300 for the remainder of the time until temp reaches 161

pull out, set aside to rest for 15-20 minutes minimum (carry over will bring temp to 165)

Make gravy while bird is resting

For a 13 lb bird, you'll need roughly 3 -3.5 hrs of roasting time, so if dinner is at 7, you'll want the bird in the oven around 2:30-3pm

Monday, November 22, 2010

Herbed Garlic Toasts

This was a completely improvised recipe, and very easy to make. I used frozen wheat kaiser rolls because I had them handy in the freezer. I always freeze extra bread rolls to prevent them from getting moldy before I have a chance to use them. I recommend toasting these in a toaster oven if you have one because it makes it easier to keep an eye on the bread to prevent burning. I'm sure there are plenty of ways to make garlic bread. How do you make yours?

1 clove garlic, grated
1-2 Tbs butter
1-2 Tbs fresh herbs (I used oregano and thyme)
bread, preferably a baguette or roll (I used a wheat kaiser roll)

If you are using frozen bread, like I do, thaw the bread in the toaster oven. Mix grated garlic and fresh herbs with butter until the butter is nice and soft. Spread butter mixture on bread. Toast in the toaster oven or broil for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My First Turkey

Food Judicata is back just in time for Thanksgiving! Changes are coming to the website, mainly the layout and design. I decided to go with seasonal colors and tweaked the layout to make it more palatable.

In other news, this year, I will be hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner with my family. My sister and I have agreed that she will be preparing side dishes, but I will be in charge of the turkey! (with her guidance, of course). Behold, my very first turkey that I just purchased from the supermarket. At 13 lbs, it was the smallest Shady Brook Farms turkey that I could find. I chose this turkey because (1) it was on sale at 47 cents per pound and (2) after a frantic cell phone call to my sister, I learned that Butterball pre-brines their turkeys, which I had no idea.

So into the freezer the bird goes, where it will live until next Saturday, when it will be moved to the fridge to start thawing. (Another little surprise that I had learned from my sister - frozen turkeys need to start thawing five days in advance!)