Tuesday, 8 February 2011

My favourite ingredients: chorizo

When I was little I would leave my favourite ingredients of any meal, namely chorizo and olives, to one side of my plate in order to savour them properly at the end. During the week I would go to school from 9:00 to 13:15 and from 16:45 to 18:45 so in between there was time to go home for lunch. But every Wednesday I would have lunch at my grandparents place and every Wednesday we ate the same two courses in my honour: Macarrones con chorizo and Carne con aceitunas. Every week my uncle Juan would sit at the table in the chair next to mine and, knowing me well, he would eat the chorizo or olives that I left to one side to make me mad and, boy, would I get mad!

With time my tastebuds developed and I learnt that, if certain ingredients belong in a recipe, there probably is a reason for it and I should make a point of eating them all together. Now I'm a mummy it's eat when you can and always with the certainty that the moment the food hits the plate baby will invariably wake up/whinge/need a nappy change, so it's eat fast or else eat cold.

Throughout the years my search for good chorizo in the UK has progressed quite nicely, it basically went from not finding any and having to fly back from Spain with vacuum-packed chorizo stashed in my suitcase every time I visited the family to finding basic Revilla Chorizo de Puchero to the great find that is a place in London that stocks the proper stuff. In fact I have never been to this paradise (other than in my dreams), it was Mr Tapas who discovered it a couple of weeks ago and returned home triumphantly bearing remarkably well-chosen goodies and especially proud of the "chorizo gallego" he had managed to find. He was proud of the fact that it was gallego (i.e. from Galicia) because that is the region I come from and therefore the region of Spain we most visit.

When we found out he was going to start working in Portobello, one of the first things I said was: "I've heard there is a Spanish supermarket there!". I meant R García and Sons but instead he found a place called La Plaza and he came home with some of my favourite things in the whole wide world: sliced lomo, sliced chorizo (both sweet and hot), cooking chorizo sausages, white asparagus and (yay!) proper pasta for Fideuá (I had been using macaroni but every time I prepared a Fideuá I complained about macaroni not being quite the right pasta for it).

Everything was fantastic quality, the cold meats were pretty much packed how I would expect them to be wrapped in a charcutería in Spain and the prices were very similar to what we would have paid in any English supermarket, in fact I am convinced that we got more quantity for the same price. I shall report further once I visit it in person.

If you can't get to London, Revilla's Chorizo de Pueblo (Puchero) is good to have in the cupboard as it lasts quite a while and it's fantastic for quick sopas de fideos (soups with filini pasta), potajes (potages) or indeed pucheros. They are basically (pardon the pun) perfect for a quick bowl of comfort food. I have found it in Waitrose and in Sainsburys in the past.

For something more special, Tesco's cooking chorizo sausages are actually rather good too. 

Some of my faux pas have included buying Waitrose's Chorizo-style sausages (the clue was in the name) and trying to make a lentil stew with them. Waitrose was also a source of disappointment at Christmas when Mr Tapas bought some chorizo and jamón ibérico which tasted mainly of the plastic it was packed in, having worked out the price per slice we were rather outraged. Don't get the wrong idea, I love Waitrose and have bought plenty of excellent quality ingredients there in the past but it failed us in this department.

I think La Plaza will remain my preferred supplier of chorizo for now.

Have you discovered any good places to buy good chorizo, either sliced or for cooking?

Some of my recipes using chorizo:
Chorizo pasta (Thermomix version here)
Chorizo and red pepper risotto (and the Thermomix version here)
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