Friday, September 14, 2012

Chorizo and Shrimp Pasta

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This pasta was born, as many recipes, out of necessity. I had chorizo (a raw, Mexican sausage) in the fridge that was left over from my hubby's chorizo and eggs that morning.  I've never eaten chorizo in anything other than "chorizo and eggs" but I know it is used a lot in Mexican and Spanish cooking. So, the wheels in my brain started turning.
   I needed a "dinner in a hurry," so pasta is always a go-to. So, what to put with chorizo and pasta? I remembered I had some large peeled and de-veined shrimp in the freezer, so dinner was born. I improvised as I went along ans this is what I came up with. The dish is spicy (because chorizo is inherently spicy), but it wasn't too spicy for the kids. The two year old even ate two bowls. :)
   Even if you don't try this exact recipe, I hope it inspires you to create meals from what you already have on hand. You never know. It may be your new favorite meal. :)

Here's how I started it:

1 small to medium onion, diced. I put it in the largest skillet I have, with a little EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).

Next came a little salt. This is to taste. Chorizo can be salty, so just add a little now and then check for seasoning at the end.

And freshly ground black pepper. (again, to taste)

A large pot of water is put on the stove over high heat. This will be for the pasta later.

When the onions have softened, and browned slightly . . .

I added about 1 tsp of garlic, minced.

Now comes the Chorizo. Different brands make them, and they come in different meats. We like the pork Chorizo, but we aren't picky about brand names. Whichever one is on sale.
Hubby already used a little less than 1/2 the package, so I'm guessing I'm left with around 5 oz of sausage. If you like things spicy, use the whole thing. I would if I wasn't cooking for the kids too. :)

The sausage goes into the pan, and I just break it up with a wooden spoon.

As it cooks it will break down even more. Now, you can leave it in big chunks and let it get a good caramelization on it, or you can break it down further so that it almost melts into the pasta later. Since I'm cooking for the family, I opted to break down the chorizo even further.

When my sausage is nearly brown, I scoot it to one side of the pan and use the yummy drippings to cook my shrimp. I just place them one at a time, to make sure they all sear well. I crank up the heat to high because I want to get color on the shrimp, but I don't want to over cook them. (They kind of taste like erasers when you do that. Yuck!) -Incidentally, if you wanted to use something else here (i.e. veggies or another protein like chicken) that would be perfectly yummy.

When the shrimp start to turn pink around the edges they are ready to flip.

I used tongs to flip each one.

They just need about 1 minute more on the second side and they are done! (Shrimp cook VERY fast. Another reason I like them for a "dinner in a hurry.")

When they are pink on the second side, remove them and set them aside for later - leave the sausage, onions and garlic in the pan.

To the sausage mixture, I add about 2 Tbsp of flour. Just sprinkle it on and stir it in.

Keep stirring. It won't look like it's going to come together, but it will.

When no more flour is visible, cook it for 1 minute and add 2 cups of chicken broth. (I actually added water, but tasted it later and decided chicken broth would have been better. I corrected that mistake by adding 2 tsp of chicken bullion granules.)

Stir the broth into the sausage mixture and continue to cook over medium heat until it bubbles - stirring occasionally.

The pot of water should be boiling now, so salt it generously and add 1 pound of pasta. I like Farfalle (bow ties) for this dish, but use what you like.

When the sauce is bubbling, make sure to stir it well and turn down the heat to low.

Add about 1 cup of peas. I always keep frozen peas on hand; and since they blanch them before they freeze them I never even let them thaw. The extra couple teaspoons of water won't hurt the sauce at all.

When the pasta is done, add it to the sauce. I just scooped mine out with a slotted spoon. If you decide to go the more traditional route and strain your pasta through a colander, you'll want to reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water for later.

Stir all the pasta with all the sauce. See? This is why I used my largest skillet. Go slow, and it will come together nicely.

Add some parsley. I have dry on hand, and I added 1 Tbsp.

Last, but certainly not least, the shrimp get invited back to the party. You can turn the heat off now and just let the hot sauce and pasta heat the shrimp through again. If the pasta starts to look dry, add the reserved pasta water a little at a time. I ended up adding 1/2 cup before dinner and then another 1/2 cup before my husband ate his portion (he worked late).

It plates up nicely, don't you think?

I took a couple shots from different angles.

And then remembered that I wanted to sprinkle a little more parsley on top for color. Fresh would have been best, but I use what I got. :)
Here's the recipe:

Chorizo and Shrimp Pasta

1 pound of Farfalle pasta, cooked
1 cup of reserved pasta water (take out after pasta is cooked)
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
5-6 oz of Chorizo Mexican sausage
1 pound large (31-40) shrimp, peeled and de-veined 
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups of chicken stock/broth
salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 Tbsp parsley plus more for garnish

 In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the oil (EVOO) and onions. Saute until the onions with a little salt and pepper until they are soft and a little brown. Then add the garlic. Stir and add the sausage. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and cook until browned. Move the sausage mixture to the side of the pan and turn the heat to high. Add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook for just a couple minutes, until the shrimp is pink around the edges. Turn each shrimp over and when the second side is pink (about 1 minute), put the shrimp in a bowl for later. To the sausage mixture in the pan, add the flour and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the chicken stock while you continue to stir. Cook, stirring occasionally until it comes up to a bubble. Add the frozen peas, stir and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta. Turn off the heat and add the shrimp and parsley. Stir to combine and to reheat the shrimp. Serve and garnish with more parsley.

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