This week, let’s talk about chorizo. You know that delicious pork product that turns everything it touches to gold? Quite literally, actually. I can’t recall when I first started cooking with chorizo, but I haven’t looked back. A few small pieces of it thrown into a skillet with onions completely transform the entire base of your stew, soup, stock, etc., into a flavorful and complex, smoky delicacy. I’ve always associated chorizo with Spain and Portugal, but it’s also predominant in Mexican cuisine (all ranking high on my list of favorite cuisines).
While I’m all about ‘eating/sf,’ sometimes I want to be ‘eating/barcelona’ or ‘eating/istanbul.’ I love traveling through food, especially when I can’t travel to faraway places (new job/two weddings + miscellaneous wedding-related trips = no self-indulgent foreign country vacation). And so, on weekends when I’ve relegated myself to the comforts of home (and my kitchen), I like to choose a destination, and make a plan for a food-cation. Try it sometime–it really does wonders for the soul, particularly when you feel like your pant legs haven’t been dry in over a week (or you can’t recall the last time you’ve seen the sun). Can you tell that I’ve been holed up in my house? The sun broke loose yesterday for one glorious afternoon, and I took advantage by taking a city walk long enough to make me feel ok about holed up again today.
This dish, which can’t quite be called a soup or a stew, is more accurately described as a bowlful of rich broth housing a hearty serving of mussels, all infused with that full, warming chorizo aroma. I’ve only recently discovered how easy it is to cook mussels at home and was looking for something with a twist. I had just bought a package of polenta (or grits, as my friends in the South would call them), and was looking for ways to incorporate it into a new recipe. My original thought had been to mix the mussels with some heirloom beans (has anyone tried this? or have a great recipe to share?), but a random search led me to a recipe that I couldn’t turn away from.
This broth is a kaleidoscope of spicy/smoky notes, but is pleasantly softened by the mild-flavored polenta, and as long as you don’t mind digging in your bowl with your hands, is really a great date-night meal.
Mussels and Chorizo in Polenta Broth
adapted from a recipe on bitchincamero
*serves 3-4 as a main course
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 ounces of Spanish chorizo, chopped (remove casings)
4-5 cups of high-quality chicken stock
1/3 cup of dry white wine
8 ounces of diced tomatoes in their juices
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, with more to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of saffron threads
1/2 cup of polenta
salt and pepper, to taste
1.5 lbs. mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped (to serve)
1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes before adding the chorizo.
2. Allow the onion to cook with the chorizo for about 7-8 minutes(until the fat coats the onions in a glorious orange glossiness and the aroma of the chorizo penetrates your kitchen).
3. Pour in the chicken stock, wine, and tomatoes in their juices. Add in the red pepper flakes, garlic, saffron, and a few pinches of salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the polenta, cooking for about 20-25 minutes, stirring every so often.
5. If the polenta starts getting too thick, add more broth to make sure that the consistency is soupy, not stew-y.
6. Add the mussels to the pot, stir and cover. Cook for about 5-8minutes, until the mussels have opened. Any unopened mussels should be tossed (don’t pry them open!).
7. Serve in big soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley. Have some crusty bread on hand–the spicy broth is delicious. Have an empty bowl on hand to collect the mussel shells.
Musical Pairings: Spoon – Transference + Mussels and Chorizo in Polenta Broth