Thursday 14 December 2017

Recipes: Brenda Costigan says spicy Spanish sausage can give a welcome kick to all sorts of dishes

This spicy Spanish sausage can give a welcome kick to all sorts of dishes, says Brenda Costigan, from a Tex-Mex chilli to a simple chicken stew. Try it fresh or dried—chorizo is great with potatoes and can be cooked in red wine as a tasty tapas


Chorizo, which is pronounced chore-reeth-oh, is a popular and traditional food used in Spanish cooking.

It is made from coarsely textured smoked pork and red pepper, which is seasoned with chilli and smoked ground paprika. It has a wonderful red colour and a spicy flavour, often with a sweetish touch to it. Each region has its own traditional recipe. Added to many recipes, chorizo can give a wonderful kick to your finished dish. Try adding some to a potato soup for a really exciting flavour to warm the cockles of your heart.

Chorizo can be bought as a whole sausage of either soft uncooked chorizo, which must, naturally, be cooked before eating, or a firmer, drier, cured sausage which can be sliced and eaten without cooking, as can the vacuum packs of very thinly sliced varieties of chorizo, which are ideal for a platter of antipasti to start off a meal. If you like, you can remove the skin from uncooked chorizo before frying it. Both varieties are widely available from delicatessens and good supermarkets.


Give a super flavour to a simple chicken dish with chorizo. This recipe is ideal for making in advance and reheating.

Serves 4.

You will need:

1 medium chicken, jointed (see note)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1-2 teaspoons ground paprika

60-90ml (4-6 tablespoons) olive oil

1 glass white wine

1 medium onion, chopped

2-4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

2 fat uncooked chorizo sausages, skins discarded, and sausages chopped

1 x 400g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes

1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 175ml (6fl oz) boiling water

Sprig or two of fresh thyme

3-4 bay leaves, fresh or dried

1-3 tablespoons black olives

Rice or potatoes, to serve Green vegetable or green salad, to serve


Use equivalent ready-cut chicken joints with the bones in and the skin on — breasts or thighs. Season the chicken joints with some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then coat the chicken pieces in the ground paprika until they are all evenly covered. Using a large frying pan, heat a generous amount of olive oil and fry the chicken pieces, turning them now and then until they are nicely browned. Add the white wine and simmer the pan for a few minutes until most of the wine has evaporated. Lift out the chicken pieces and keep them warm.

Next, add the chopped onion to the pan and fry it until it is soft, adding a little more olive oil if necessary. Add in the chopped garlic and red pepper, and when that has softened, add the chopped uncooked chorizo, the tin of chopped tomatoes, the chicken stock, the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves. Cook everything together for about 10 minutes, then add the black olives and the chicken pieces, submerging them, in a single layer, in the sauce as best you can. Cover the pan with a lid or some tin foil and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Turn the chicken joints occasionally until everything is cooked through. Serve with rice or potatoes and a green vegetable or salad of your choice. This dish reheats successfully.


More Tex-Mex than Mex, is how Nigella Lawson describes this speedy recipe of hers. The chorizo gives the minced meat what Nigella calls a “sprightly” flavour. Serve with rice and a dollop of sour cream. Accompany with a green salad or some coleslaw. Serves 4.

You will need:

150g (5oz) uncooked chorizo sausages

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

500g (1lb 2oz) minced beef

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Seeds from 3 cardamom pods (optional)

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼-½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 x 400g (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g (14oz) tin of spiced red kidney beans or mixed beans

60 ml (4 tablespoons) sweet chilli sauce

A little beef stock, if necessary Green salad or coleslaw, to serve

Remove the skins from the uncooked chorizo sausages. Slit the chorizo sausages in two down their length and then cut them into little semi-circular pieces. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and fry the chorizo pieces until they crisp up and an orangey-red oil comes out into the pan. Transfer the chorizo slices into a heavybased saucepan.

Next, fry the minced beef in 3-4 lots in the frying pan oil, until it is browned, transferring it to the saucepan with the chorizo slices when it is ready. Add some salt and freshly ground black pepper to the meat pan.Then add in the cardamom seeds, if you are using them, the ground cumin, coriander and nutmeg. Stir in the tin of chopped tomatoes, the spiced red kidney beans or mixed beans, whichever you are using, and the sweet chilli sauce, and bring to the boil.

If the chilli appears to be too thick at this point, add a little beef stock. Turn the heat right down and simmer gently, with the lid on, for about 20-30 minutes.

Making this dish ahead of time and allowing it to sit for a while always adds great depth to the flavour.


On their own, potatoes are inclined to be somewhat bland, so the strong flavour of chorizo gives a touch of Spanish excitement to the soup. Uncooked chorizo sausages or regular chorizo are both suitable for this recipe. Serve with crusty bread. Serves 5-6.

You will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 onions, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

175-225g (6-8oz) uncooked or regular chorizo, sliced, skin discarded if you prefer 700g (1½lb) potatoes, peeled and diced (see note)

1.1L (2pt) chicken or vegetable stock

1 fresh bay leaf

2-3 thin sprigs of thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

110g (4oz) frozen chopped spinach (optional, see note)

Natural Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche, to serve (optional)

Crusty bread, to serve

Note on spinach:

Thaw the frozen spinach and add it to the soup. If you’re using fresh spinach, then wash it, shred it finely and add it directly into the soup. It will lose volume when it is heated.

Note on potatoes:

I use rooster potatoes because they are floury and yet they don’t turn into mush. Put the olive oil into a heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the finely chopped onions and the chopped garlic for a few minutes to soften them without browning. Add the sliced chorizo and cook it gently with the lid on for a minute or two to release the flavours and the oils — but do not allow it to brown.

Add in the prepared potatoes. Stir together to allow the flavours to mingle, then add the chicken or vegetable stock, whichever you are using, the bay leaf, the thyme sprigs, and some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Lift out the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Add the spinach now, if you are using it, and return the soup just to the boil to heat the spinach through. Serve with a spoon of natural Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche on top of each portion, if you are using it, and some crusty bread.



Wonderfully flavoursome comfort food, this dish can easily be made in minutes if you have leftover potatoes lying around.

A spoonful or two of creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt is a tasty addition to each serving. Serves 2-3.

You will need:

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1-2 leeks, washed and thinly sliced

150g (5oz) chorizo, sliced

½-1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely chopped

700g (1½lb) cooked potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons mango chutney

¼ teaspoon herbes de Provence or thyme

2-3 bay leaves

8-10 black and green olives

Chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional) Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan and fry the thinly sliced onion until it is soft, adding in the chopped garlic and the washed, sliced leeks also. Next, add the chorizo, and fry it gently to release the oils. Add the peeled and chopped apple, the cooked potato chunks, and some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the mango chutney, the herbes de Provence or dried thyme, whichever you are using, the bay leaves and the black and green olives, and continue frying. Stir frequently to blend all the flavours together, until the food is piping hot. Serve the dish as it is, or pop the pan under a hot grill to crisp the top. If you like, sprinkle a little chopped fresh parsley over it before serving. Serve with Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche.


A simple tapas, served warm with crusty bread. Serves 2.

You will need:

100ml (about 4fl oz) red wine

1 tablespoon olive oil

150g (5oz) uncooked chorizo sausages, cut in 1cm (½in) slices (see note)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves


Regular chorizo can also be used in this recipe; fry it gently to release the oils. Put the red wine into a pan and boil it until it is reduced by about a third.

Pour the wine off into a container and leave it to the side. Put the olive oil into the pan and fry the sliced chorizo until it is cooked, adding the chopped garlic to the mix. (If you’re using regular chorizo, just cook it lightly to release the oils and heat it through.)

Now add the wine back into the pan along with the fresh thyme leaves, let them simmer together for a few minutes, then draw off the heat and leave for 30 minutes, or longer, to allow the flavours to blend more.

Reheat before serving.

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