Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sudden Guest and 45 Minute Dinner

A few months ago a friend IMed me at 4:58 asking if she could come over and hang out. I asked her to bring white wine and bread, since that goes with everything in the summer, and decided to try Spanish Style Spaghetti w/ Chorizo and Almonds that I had seen in one of my favorite food blogs, Je Mange La Ville.

When I got home, I announced to my roommate that we had a guest. She volunteered to make a salad with greens, fresh mozzarella, and homemade croutons. We lept into action. I took the counter by the sink, and she took the counter by the stove. Our kitchen is huge by Boston standards, but when both of us are in simultaneous cooking frenzies, things can get cramped.

Since I was low on cash, and hadn't checked the pantry to make a complete shopping list, I ended up dropping some elements from the dish (I put a strike through items I didn't use). The two of us got a delicious dinner on the table in under an hour. Suck on that Rachel Ray.

Spaghetti with Chorizo and Almonds
Recipe from Gourmet Magazine, with tweaks by Je Mange La ville. Missing items are entirely my fault and I promise to make this recipe properly at some point
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp crumbled saffron threads
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 package of local Portuguese chourico (1lb)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp fennel seeds (we keep on forgetting to buy more)
9 ounces fideos (dried coiled vermicelli noodles) or angel-hair pasta or thin spaghetti, broken into 2-inch lengths
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp fresh, chopped rosemary
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup sliced almonds with skins, toasted (bonus points for marcona almonds)
1/2 cup Manchego grated

I put the broth, water, and wine into a small pot on a back burner and set it to simmer.

Then began the grand chopping of garlic. and I go through several heads of garlic a week, so this is a familiar nightly ritual. I sliced up about 8 cloves of garlic and set them aside. I also sliced up my chourico and set it aside.

I snagged my largest pot (about 5 qts) and added about 2 TB of olive oil to the pot. When the oil was hot (as tested by holding my hand a couple inches above the bottom of the pan), I added the sliced garlic. After a minute, of cooking, I removed the garlic from the pot with a fork, and reserved it in a small bowl.

I put the chourico into the pot and let it cook, stirring occasionally. While the sausage cooked, I chopped up my onion, found the spaghetti, and drained a can of chickpeas. The one problem with using a bright red firm sausage, is that it's hard to tell when it's cooked through. After about 8 minutes and paranoid poking at it by myself and, she declared it cooked and I set it aside on paper towels.

Then I added 1 TB of butter to the pan, let it melt and added the onion. Je Mange La Ville made a notation that it's OK to use butter because you're already eating sausage. I think it's OK to use butter whenever you want. It adds flavor to the dish and promotes browning, so why leave it out? After that mental rant, I added salt and pepper to season the onions, and let them cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. I broke the pasta into small pieces inside the pot, so stray pasta bits stayed inside. Then I added the simmering broth mixture, covered the big pot and let it simmer away for 6-7 minutes until pasta has absorbed the liquid.

While that was happening I zested an orange, chopped up the rosemary and parsley, and realized I had no tomatoes. I opened a can of whole tomatoes, pulled two out and chopped them roughly.

I added the chopped tomato, orange zest, rosemary, parsley, chick peas, cooked garlic, and sausage to the pot. I stirred it up and added salt and pepper to taste. I also cursed myself for not having almonds, because those would have been amazing.

I served bowls of this with grated Manchego on the side. Our guest, Span, brought a bottle of "Good Pinot Grigo" which was in fact pretty good and a loaf of Iggy's bread. She had asked me what kind of wine to bring and I asked for anything but chardonnay (which I hate with a passion). made delicious green salads with home made vinaigrette, home made croutons and fresh mozzerella.

The main dish had a lot of flavor which, had permeated the pasta (because the spaghetti was cooked in the sauce). I really liked the bit of sour/sweet from the orange and rosemary, and that the sauce had some creaminess from the pasta starch being released into it. Best of all it also reheated well the next day for lunch.

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