I recently started watching the Food Network — partly for inspiration and partly because I now work at home and need outside stimulation. I don’t like most of the female cooking hosts — not because they don’t have any good ideas, but because they do. I just can’t handle the perkiness and “let’s decorate the house to go along with the sandwiches we just made” thing. I’m more a fan of the male hosts, because they are all about getting down and dirty with the food, the history of it, and even the scariness of it.
Yes, food can be scary. Take sausage, for example. While it’s definitely yummy, especially with pancakes and syrup, have you ever stopped to think about what might be wrapped in that thin skin? I try not to think about stuff like that. Except when I’m researching. Then I have to face the food, look it in the eye, and say, “I’m going to eat you, no matter what you are made of.”
My most recent food conquest was the “quintessential Spanish sausage,” chorizo. You’ve no doubt had — or at least contemplated ordering — chorizo at a Mexican restaurant. The most common way to cook it is with eggs — huevos con chorizo — but there are about a million different ways to use it. Try Googling chorizo, and you’ll see what I mean. Chorizo can either be fresh and uncooked sausage, or a fermented, cured, and smoked sausage. The word “fermented” kind of frightens me, so I decided to go the fresh route, especially because it was my first time using it. I also went the suburban method and bought it at Kroger, but you should be able to find chorizo at most meat counters or at Mexican grocery stores.
This sausage has been a staple in Spanish cooking for several thousand years, but pre-17th century chorizo was quite different from the chorizo I cooked up in my tiny apartment kitchen. The difference: paprika. It’s now a major component of chorizo, but only since Spanish explorers discovered red chili peppers in the Americas in the mid-1600s and brought them back to the gardens of Spain. If the Spanish conquistadors were anything like my conqueror (aka my husband), they were probably unsatisfied with the spiciness of their food. So, I can imagine when a strapping young Spaniard discovered paprika, he was ecstatic to bring it home to his wife so she could mix it in with the chorizo.
I decided to try huevos con chorizo and chorizo hash browns (suburban papas con chorizo), and let my husband judge which recipe was the best. I assumed that we would have a grater to make the hash browns, because our kitchen is overstocked with utensils and gadgets. As it turns out, we don’t have a grater, so I had to wrestle out the food processor and attempt to put it together (it took me a good five minutes). Keep reading; I actually do know how to cook. The hash browns were just OK. I’m blaming that on the food processor. The huevos con chorizo, however, were delicioso. We ate them plain, but they are killer as a breakfast taco filler with avocado, lettuce, a little cheese, and salsa. •
Huevos Con Chorizo
8 ounces chorizo
1/4 yellow onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 t cumin
1 t paprika
Salt to taste
Peel the skin off the chorizo; discard. Place chorizo in a hot skillet and break it up as it cooks. Add onions, garlic, cumin, and paprika. When chorizo is cooked thoroughly, slowly pour eggs into pan. Let the mixture sit for a few seconds and then gently stir from the outside in, allowing the uncooked portion of the eggs to flow onto the bottom of the skillet. Cook just until eggs are starting to congeal. Serve with warm tortillas.