My mother’s maiden name is Galceran. This is a name that is distinctly Basque, meaning from the northern region of spain that borders France. The basque are known for their feisty nature, fiery food, and rambunctious beach/bull-fighting culture. Not a bad lineage, eh?
On my European honeymoon with myself last week, I knew that I needed to trek back to the motherland (the non-von-Trapp part… no leiderhosen here!) I am sure glad I did. San Sebastian, revered for its gorgeous beaches, people, architecture, and culture, is also infamous for some of the best food in the Western World. I can see why. Imagine a land where the water is warmer than the air (no joke), and after a delightful dive in the waves of the Northern Spanish coast, you saunter into a tapas restaurant, only to encounter a 3 euro glass of fine red wine accompanied by a plethora of tapas construed of only the finest, freshest seafoods, meats, and artisanal cheeses and spices.
Oh, yes. I did enjoy San Sebastian quite a bit.
The one thing that I did come up against was that the tapas are traditionally teensy bites served atop, you guessed it, sliced bread. I was developing a chorizo recipe for my favorite American restaurant in Paris a few days ago (LeFilRouge Cafe), and had a bit left over. This morning, upon waking very ravenous and discovering said chorizo in the fridge, I wondered what I could eat it with without having to make an additional trip to the market. As I opened the pantry, my little eye did indeed spy: Sweet Potato Chips… shaped EXACTLY like the sliced baguette in Spain! And gluten-free. Ole!!!!!
This chorizo is, no joke, some of the best I’ve ever tasted. And atop the chip? SIMPLE GOODNESS. Which is what the tapas are all about in San Sebastian. Good quality, small portions, and plenty of spice to go around. This dish is perfect to serve as one of many or as an appetizer at a dinner party.
Now all I have to do is find that warm water beach somewhere in New York City. Uhhh…..
1 pound of ground pork
3 dried large chilis (use guajilios for super spicy)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 tsp. parsley
2 teaspoons salt
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Yields about 1 ¼ pound spicy chorizo (serves about 4 for a meal, about 25 for tapas.)
- Rinse the dried guajillos, and then remove the stem and seeds. Heat the chiles for a 30 seconds on each side in a skillet over high heat. Let soak for half an hour in room temperature, filtered water.
- After chilis are moist, drain the water and blend chilis and vinegar in a blender.* over high speed. Then add onion and garlic. Puree until paste is formed.
- Add the chili puree to the ground pork, along with cinnamon, cumin, paprika, cayenne, parsley, and salt. Mix well (use gloves).
- Your paprika is ready! You can either cook it up right away over medium heat in a large skillet for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. To keep for later, store chorizo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days maximum. Stores in the freezer for up to two weeks.
*Note to cooks – this stuff is POTENT. I would recommend not inhaling while cooking, or even wearing goggles (not kidding), as you might, ahem, MASE yourself (like I didn’t do?!) if you breathe in too much. This is why it is important to keep the mixture covered in the blender while mixing. Would be funny if I was kidding. I promise it will taste GREAT, though. Oh, and most certainly wear gloves when mixing the sausage.