Fear not the chorizo

I don’t know why Mexican chorizo isn’t a staple in the typical American household. After all, it’s a versatile protein that can add wonderful heat to any dish. Want to make great tacos without buying expensive (and generally tasteless) taco seasoning? Just saute up some Mexican chorizo. Want to replace ground beef in (some) recipes with something a little spicier? Use Mexican chorizo.

I specify Mexican chorizo to set it apart from its Spanish and Portuguese cousins, which are typically cured. Mexican chorizo is ground pork with spices, and comes uncooked (chorizo fresco), generally in inedible plastic tubes.

Perhaps it’s because many Americans haven’t tried chorizo before in restaurants (I mostly only come across it in truly authentic Mexican places). It’s a shame, because we love the stuff, and it’s relatively healthy. Relatively.

Still, Jessie grimaced when I told her I was making pasta and red sauce with chorizo tonight – call it fear of the unknown. But I soldiered on, and the end result was good enough she said I should blog about it. So here goes: Chorizo with orecchiette.

Orecchiette is a nickel-sized round pasta. I chose it because the small “cups” it forms work great to trap sauce and melting cheese as you scoop it up in the finished dish. You could replace it with any pasta you choose.

What you’ll need for two people (generous portions – have your Tupperware handy for leftovers):

  • 6 ounces Mexican-style chorizo, removed from casing (I prefer La Casona picante, though it’s a little hot for some people)
  • 1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1, 28-ounce can, Italian style peeled tomatoes (I prefer Cento)
  • 8 ounces uncooked orecchiette or pasta of your choice
  • 1 Tablespoon thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pecorino Romano for grating
  • Freshly chopped parsley (1 Tablespoon, roughly)

What to do:

  • Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan. Drop in the onion and saute until translucent.
  • Get a big pot of salted water boiling for your pasta (you’ll cook it later).
  • Mix in the chorizo, breaking up with a wooden spoon until it takes on the consistency of ground beef. Cook thoroughly, around 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, breaking large pieces up with a wooden spoon. Add in thyme and oregano, and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Bring to a boil, add in the two Bay leaves and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, prepare your pasta as directed on the packaging, timing it to finish when the sauce is completed.
  • Once the sauce has reduced nicely (the natural grease from chorizo and any “thin” liquid from the tomatoes should no longer be gathering at the top of the sauce), drain the pasta and add to the sauce to combine.
  • Season with salt and pepper, then serve, garnishing with freshly chopped parsley and shaved Pecorino Romano cheese.

Related posts:

  1. Quick and Easy Sopa Noodles
  2. Saturday Night Improv: Chorizo-stuffed chicken breast
  3. Mac ‘n cheese with bacon
  4. Pork with Riesling and shallots
  5. HouseOFoodies Pantry Must-Haves

About the Author

Owner of a graphic design firm specializing in magazine design and wannabe chef. Former resident of Belgium, the United Kingdom and...North Dakota.