Home-made chorizo

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Home-made chorizo

Home-made chorizo

Even though we didn’t have our own pork this year, I decided to make some chorizo. That way I would know exactly what goes into it and how much fat it contains. The recipe basically calls for 80% meat and 20% fat but as the pork belly I bought was very lean, the fat percentage was considerably higher. It is possible to make chorizo completely from scratch, adding your own spices and flavourings to the meat and fat mixture. However, as the climate on the coast is warmer and more humid than in the mountains, and not ideal for drying and curing meats, I wanted to be completely sure that there wouldn’t be a problem and we wouldn’t all be poisoned so used a ready-made chorizo mix call “Chorizol”. I then added more oregano, chilli pepper and chopped garlic.

INGREDIENTS:
4kg shoulder of pork
1kg belly pork, derinded
1 sachet chorizol
2 1/2 teaspoons chilli pepper
8 cloves garlic
handful oregano
hog casings

PROCEDURE:
Mince the meat and fat together. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Leave to mature in the fridge or a cool place for 24 hours.

Put the mixture into the casings. Shape into individual sausages.

Making chorizo sausage

Making chorizo sausage

Hang up to dry in a cool, airy place. The ideal temperature is between 10ºC and 13ºC. Leave to dry for 7 days. If the temperature is cool enough, you can store the chorizo outside the fridge but I decided to freeze it and take out use as needed. I also saved some of the fresh chorizo back and froze it without drying.

chorizo2

Making sausages

pork sausages

Pork sausages

INGREDIENTS (makes about 42 sausages):
2kg shoulder of pork (magro de cerdo)
500g belly pork (panceta)
400g rusk/sausage seasoning mix
600g water

Mince the meat and fat using a 5mm mincer blade.

Using your hands, work the fat well into the meat. Butchers say that you will need to work the mixture until your hands ache, then until your arms ache and then until your shoulders ache. This process is important, however, for the texture of the sausages.

Sprinkle over the rusk and seasoning mixture, add the water and continue working with your hands. At this stage, you can then pass the mixture through the mincer a second time to ensure a more uniform texture.

sausage meat mixture

Sausage meat mixture

If you are using natural casings, you will need to soak them in warm water for about 30 minutes and then run cold water through them to rinse them thoroughly. Once they are soft and pliable, feed them onto the mincing nozzle.

Fitting hog casings onto nozzle

Fitting hog casings onto nozzle

Make the sausages. It is easier to make one long sausage first and then form this into individual sausages later.

You can either link the sausages into groups of three to form a string of sausages or squeeze and twist each individual sausage. Spread out the sausages on a plastic tray in a single layer and freeze. Check after a couple of hours that they haven’t stuck together and then bag.

Finished pork sausages

Finished pork sausages

Migas

Making migas with stale bread

Making migas with stale bread

Migas are fried stale breadcrumbs and while they do not sound particularly appetising they are in fact delicious and are served in many bars and restaurants in Southern Spain generally as a tapa. This is peasant food at its best: cheap, simple and tasty, using up left-overs and store cupboard inrgedients.

While most of the bread is fried as migas, some pieces are kept back and fried in oil as croutons. These can then be combined with the final dish to add a bit of texture.

There are several different ways of cooking migas and you can either use stale breadcrumbs from yesterday’s loaf or semolina.

Normal ingredients to add are garlic, chorizo or longaniza sausage (a thinner version of chorizo), green peppers, sardines, etc.). They can then be served with chunks of cold melon.

INGREDIENTS:
2 stale loaves of bread
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 long green peppers, cut into strips
chorizo or longaniza sausage, cut into small pieces

Cut or tear the bread into fairly small pieces. Put in large bowl and sprinkle over some water.

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. First fry the larger chunks of bread as croutons. When they are crispy, transfer to a plate.

Fry the chopped garlic in the same oil, removing the pan when softened.

Add the pieces of chorizo or longaniza and fry until cooked. Remove.

Fry the green pepper in the same oil and then transfer to the plate.

Recipe for migas

Ingredients for migas

Add a bit more oil if necessary to the pan and add the bread. With a wooden spatula, turn the breadcrumbs, breaking them up into smaller pieces as they are fried. The finished dish will resemble breadcrumbs.

frying spanish migs

Frying Spanish migas

Combine all the ingredients and serve.

Pork stew

NOTE: If you are using dried butterbeans, you will have to soak them overnight. You can add any vegetable you have to this stew according to what’s in season (courgettes, carrots, aubergines, etc.).

NOTE: You should only start timing the stew once the pressure cooker has reached pressure.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6):
pork ribs, cut into pieces
4 or 5 medium potatoes: 2 grated, 3 cut into chunks
250g dried butter beans, soaked overnight
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic
2 green peppers, roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
a pinch of chilli pepper
olive oil
salt and pepper
stock or water

Heat some oil in a large pressure cooker and fry first the onions, then the green peppers and then your other vegetables until soft. Add the tomatoes and fry for another couple of minutes and before adding the pork and potatoes. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

Cover well with water and bring to the boil. You will probably need about 1.2 – 1.5 litres of water/stock. The beans will absorb some of the water so it is important that you have enough liquid in the pan. If you bring the mixture to the boil before putting on the lid, you can see whether you need to any more liquid. Generally speaking, there needs to be about an inch of liquid above the level of the stew.

Cover the pan with the lid, engage the mechanism and bring to pressure.

Once the pan has reached pressure, cook for 30 minutes before turning off the gas.

You can either let it return to normal pressure or run it under the cold tap to lower the pressure quickly.

DO NOT OPEN THE LID UNTIL THERE IS NO LONGER ANY STEAM COMING FROM THE PAN.

White bean and potato stew: potaje de alubias blancas y patatas

One of the best things about Spain are the stews that cooks and chefs prepare. Each region has its speciality and while Madrid is famous for its cocido, Asturias has its fabada. This is one of my favourite types of dishes and a good substantial meal in itself in the winter months.

We ate this round at our neighbour’s house and I tried to replicate it a while later.

INGREDIENTS:
250g white beans, soaked overnight
1 onion, chopped
4 medium potatoes
green peppers, chopped
2 tomatoes, finely
leeks
a ham bone
a white knuckle bone
2 bay leaves
chorizo, sliced

Fry the green pepper in some oil in the pressure cooker until soft. Add the onion and leeks and fry for a further couple of minutes before adding the tomato.

Add the remaining ingredients and cover with plenty of water. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Close the lid and bring the pan up to pressure. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and boil for a further 10 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly.

Storing Ham

storing cured ham

Storing cured ham

I’ve been experimenting with ways of storing our ham shoulder which we cured from the pig. We don’t eat it all that often so it’s important to find a way of keeping it moist, mould-free and away from the flies. 

Once I’ve cut off any ham that I need, I smear the exposed surface with olive oil. I then fold some sheets of kitchen roll over before wrapping in two square of gauze or muslin, the first one way and the second, the other.

Storing a shoulder of ham

Storing a shoulder of ham

Fried Chicken Blood

Fried Chicken Blood

Fried Chicken Blood

It was only last Sunday that I learnt how to fry chicken blood to serve as a tapa. Before then, I had always given it to the neighbour’s dog – but not any more. Sorry dog.

When you kill the chicken and cut the neck, drain the blood onto a plate with a sprinkling of salt. Once the blood has congealed, sprinkle a bit more salt on top and cut into squares.

Fried Chicken Blood

Fried Chicken Blood

Get 5 or so large cloves of garlic and cut into thick slices, skin and all. Fry gently in a frying pan until golden.

Fried Chicken Blood
Fried Chicken Blood

Gently add the blood squared and fry until they have puffed up. It is important not to fry them for too long or they will taste like rubber.

The blood has completely different taste to what you might expect and tastes more like egg yolk.

Pour the contents of the pan into a shallow bowl and serve with small chunks of bread.

Chicken Soup: Sopa de Pollo

chicken soup

Chicken Soup

We needed to kill a couple of the male, incubated chickens and so we decided to make a soup with the giblets (heart, lung, kidneys), necks, chicken bones, gizzard, feet, etc.

We boiled the chicken bits and one of our pork bones in plenty of water and with some salt.

The stock was simmered for about 45 minutes and then left until we needed it in the evening.

In the evening, we reheated it, adding fine pasta. I added the finely chopped yolks of 4 hard-boiled eggs. Shortly before serving, I added the chopped white and made some croutons.

Chickens at 12 weeks

Chickens at 12 weeks

Chickens at 12 weeks

The chickens are now 12 weeks’ old and are growing well.

Chickens at 12 weeks

One of the male chickens: he’s developing white-coloured ears like his father

 The males have started to adopt male posturing and one of them has even tried to crow – although the noise that came out was more like a warble.

Female Chicken at 12 weeks

Female Chicken at 12 weeks

None of the females has laid an egg yet.

About 10 days after the photo was taken we killed two of the males. We are going to have to kill them at some point so thought that now was as good a time as ever. They did not have much meat on them and there is massive difference between these and the chickens we kill for eating at about the same time. Still, we ate one (chicken casserole and chicken soup) and put the other in the freezer for later.

Chicken Tagine & Cous Cous

Ras el Hanout spice mix

Ras el Hanout spice mix

INGREDIENTS:
1 onion, chopped
1 gren pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 courgette, sliced
1 aubergine, chopped
1 can tomatoes
1 chicken stock cube
1/2 chicken, cut into smaller pieces
2 400g jars chick peas
12 dried prunes
Ras el Hanout spice mix (see below)

For the RAS EL HANOUT spice mix:
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamon seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Grind and combine the spices.

METHOD:
Fry onion in a frying pan for several minutes until soft. Add the pepper and continue frying on a medium heat. Turn up the heat, add the chicken pieces and continue frying for a further 5 minutes before stirring in the spice mix. Transfer to a pressure cooker together with the aubergine, courgette, tin of tomatoes, prunes, chicken stock and two cans water and mix well. Add the chick peas and season with salt. Cook in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes.
Serve with cous cous.