As the snow falls again in my backyard, I taste small slices from two kinds of Spanish chorizo and look out the window at those damned starlings eating all the good bird food. I hate those nasty birds. They are the bullies of the bird world. I then realize that I’ve hated chorizo most of my adult life, until just nine months ago.
Before leaving to get some Black Cat bottlerockets to scare those damned greasy birds away, I concentrate on the flavors. The longer chorizo is mellower than the… er…shorter-looking one. Both of these pork sausages are packed with big chunks of delicious pork fat and roughly cut meat. The Spanish paprika imparts a smoky, yet not overpowering spice to it, not hot at all.
The chorizo of my past was way too spicy and gave me heartburn. Little did I know that I was probably eating low-end American- or Mexican- made sausages passing themselves off as authentic chorizo.This chorizo, however, is so fully flavored with garlic, smoke and paprika that I am softening my stance and considering giving those gutter birds a reprieve.
I intend to pair this chorizo with aged Spanish Manchego made from sheeps’ milk from the La Mancia region. It is slightly salty and and has an almost cheddar-asiago taste like a toned-down, hard feta. It will stand up well to the chorizo, which will melt on the pizza, i.e. large globs of beautiful fat and paprika will run along the melted Manchego like gorgeous red lakes. Adding some sweet sauteed yellow onion, roasted red peppers and fresh cilantro would round this bodacious pie up nicely.
I have Lucy to thank for my new-found love of chorizo. Lucy had just come back from a long stay in Spain and she wanted to get back on her feet. I offered her a job because she had been an awesome employee at Avalanche in the past. During her first week back, she handed me a baggy with what looked like 3-inch dog poop in it.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Illegal Spanish chorizo,” she said, looking around for government spies. (I am not using her real name, since it was unlawful for her to smuggle the chorizo into the country.)
I tried a little piece and gave the three guys working that morning a slice also. The red, dry-aged sausage was so flavorful and not at all spicy, like I had envisioned. I cut another slice, and another, another and another until it was gone. The smokiness staying with me in the back of my throat. It ranked with the best sausage I’ve ever eaten.
Now I’ve found a place in Columbus that sells both types of real Spanish chorizo: the long rope, which is a little mellower, and the small sausage version (okay yes, the one that looks like dog poop!) This is not the all-too-spicy Mexican chorizo that flavors soups and stews, but the mellow, smoky, chorizo with big chunks of fat that act as flavor nuggets to your soul.
“With this, I will make the best pizza ever!” I exclaimed like Napolean, while standing at the check-out counter (as the teller secretly put her finger on the silent alarm button).Well, here it is, a great pizza. Tell me how you like it.
1 recipe Easy Dough (freeze the second dough ball if you are not making 2 pizza)
1 small yellow onion, sliced in half then across the grain
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small can Hunt’s tomato sauce
2 pinches oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup shredded imported Manchego cheese (don’t use a Microplane- you’ll be sorry)
1 cup sliced chorizo (for the good Spanish stuff, leave me a comment and I’ll let you know where to find it.) Cut the chorizo on the bias, (not in coins but on the diagonal, as shown below)
1 small roasted red pepper (See recipe in Toro, Sweet Bell Pepper Pizza. Take the whole pepper, after steaming and de-seeding, and set on a cutting board for topping prep)
A couple of sprigs of fresh cilantro
Preheat an upturned heavy cookie sheet on the middle deck in a 450 degree oven.
Place the onion in a small saute pan with the olive oil, and saute on medium-high for 4 minutes until just softened.
To make the sauce, combine the tomato sauce, oregano and sugar in a small bowl. Taste and add more sugar if desired.
Bang the dough out into a 10- to 11-inch round as indicated in the Easy Dough Recipe. Place on parchment paper.
Put 3 to 4 tablespoons of the sauce on the dough.
Spread the sauteed onions, then the grated Manchego cheese on the sauce.
Place the chorizo atop the cheese.
Julienne the roasted red peppers and place on the chorizo.
Slide the pizza, still on the parchment paper, onto the hot upturned cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and crisp when you run a spatula under the pizza. Top with the sprigs of cilantro and serve.
Eat it like the ravenous dog that you are, and don’t worry about those damned starlings or the snow.