Chorizo and tomato scrambled eggs: comfort food for broken bones

chorizo-scrambled-eggs

 

Bones are funny things. A few years ago, my father broke his hip; he didn’t skid over an icy street or fall down the stairs. Instead, he stumbled slightly on his way to the kitchen, and that was enough. Our bodies can be strong and resilient so often, but there are times when we are physically fragile, even if otherwise healthy, and we remember how vulnerable and delicate our bones and joints really are. The other day, my boyfriend fell during a taekwondo class and landed with most of his body weight on his hand. What was thought to be a torn ligament turned out to be, in fact, two broken fingers, and he had to be fitted with a cast to keep them in place. He works at a hospital, which is the only convenient part of this story.

It’s been painful and uncomfortable, and we’ve also realised how many things we take for granted when going about our daily lives that we wouldn’t otherwise have given a second thought. Buttoning a coat, squeezing out toothpaste, eating a meal, tying shoelaces – all activities made much more difficult, and sometimes impossible, with only one hand. He’s been in to see a hand specialist (and it would be remiss here if I didn’t reference the excellence of the NHS; the competence and kindness of its patient, hard-working staff; and our great fortune in being able to access this excellent healthcare freely), but he won’t be able to have the cast off until at least next week.

Scrambled eggs with chorizo and tomatoes

To cheer him up over the weekend I made him chorizo and tomato scrambled eggs, a re-run of a recipe I threw together in the days between Christmas and New Year to use up the bits and pieces in our fridge before going away. David loved it and suggested I blog the recipe; I demurred because it seemed such an instinctive, easy, obvious way to prepare eggs if you have chorizo hanging about the house. However, I leafed through a copy of Dan Doherty’s comfort-food book ‘Toast Roast Hash Mash’ at a friend’s house and it’s just filled with these very simple, comforting recipes – and if he can justify selling a book with food as simple as this (think dishes like fried potatoes with black pudding), I’m sure I can justify posting this.

I splashed out on eggs from Burford Brown hens here and I do think the excellence of the eggs is important when they are the stars. The yolks are so deeply orange that they glow – it’s clear why Italians sometimes call yolks rosso d’uovo, the red of the egg (they also say giallo dell’uovo, the yellow of the egg, as in English). It is not just the paprika-hued chorizo oil which has given the plateful of eggs their sunset-orange colour. But the choice of egg is not merely cosmetic, it is also for their deeper, richer flavour, and it’s nothing to do with expense as such – the finest eggs I eat are those given to me by my grandfather from his backyard chickens.

Glowing orange egg yolks
The red of the egg
You can use whatever tomatoes you want and have to hand. When I first made it, I used around six quite small round winter tomatoes, coring them and removing the damp, seedy pulp before cutting them up finely. For the second round, I used bright Vittoria cherry tomatoes because they were the ripest looking in the supermarket (well, it is February) and were also grown in the UK (thanks to LED lighting and, presumably, polytunnel). I loved their sweet, bursting flavour and the texture. However, I’m sure that, if you really don’t want to use fresh tomatoes, you could drain and chop tinned plum tomatoes. Personally I don’t like the taste of tinned tomatoes unless they’ve been cooked down for a long time, as in a pasta sauce, so wouldn’t do this – but I know people who happily eat tinned plum tomatoes on toast, so tastes clearly vary in this respect.

I like to finish off these scrambled eggs with a flourish of finely-grated Parmesan cheese – it’s an optional step, but delicious. You could also use Cheddar or a hard goat’s cheese if you’d prefer that flavour profile.

 

Chorizo scrambled eggs

 

Remember, when making this, that eggs cook quickly and go cold even faster. I don’t usually go in for fol-de-rol like warming plates but I would recommend it for this – and make sure you have everything else you need for breakfast (tea, toast, plates and cutlery) ready to go once the eggs hit the pan.

 

Chorizo and tomato scrambled eggs
This recipe served two, but I honestly don’t know if that’s an obscenely huge portion. We didn’t eat it with bread – it will likely go further if you do.

  • 130g chorizo sausage (the dried, cured kind which is usually sold in loops, not the salami-like slices or fresh chorizo-style sausages)
  • 6 eggs
  • 150g cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper (optional)
  • Parmesan, for grating at the end (optional)
  1. Cut the chorizo into thickish coins and cut each coin into quarters.
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters.
  3. Crack the 6 eggs into a bowl or jug. If you wish, add some salt and pepper to them now. Remember, the chorizo will be salty already, and if you add Parmesan there will be a bit more saltiness, so be careful about how you season the eggs. I used pepper only but thought that the dish could have done with a touch of salt – but only the tiniest extra whisper of it.
  4. Take a medium saucepan – I like my good black cast-iron pan, which also fries chorizo perfectly – and heat for a few minutes over a medium heat. Once hot, add the chorizo.
  5. Cook the chorizo, stirring, until it has yielded its oil and is ever-so-slightly crisping up at the edges – about 5-6 minutes. If the edges are getting crispy too quickly, turn the heat down. If you cook the chorizo long enough it will yield up enough oil and you won’t have to add any other.
  6. If you haven’t already lowered the heat, turn it down to as low as possible – for truly delicate eggs you may even want to move it to a lower-heat burner. Pour in the eggs and, using a wooden spoon or, even better, a wooden spoon with a flat bottom, cut through the egg mixture regularly, pulling them from the outside in, to form curds.
  7. When the eggs are setting but are still quite wet – this is often the work of minutes – add in the quartered tomatoes and stir them through the eggs and chorizo evenly. Cook for a few minutes more, until the eggs are set but still soft and slightly runny.
  8. Decant immediately onto warm plates. If liked, grate over some Parmesan using a fine grater.
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Baking challenge: sweet and savoury rolls

Hopefully the Easter weekend was fun for all. Most of it was spent reading (World War One, naturally), but also lots of Great British Bake-Off re-runs, The Village (I’m sure I’ll have more to say on that soon – after all, the first episode was set in 1914!), and a visit to the theatre – my first in years – to see Mies Julie, an adapted version (i.e. borrowing the concept of, but with an original script) of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie set in South Africa, which has received universal rave reviews. Sadly I found myself disagreeing with the reviewers wholeheartedly by about 20 minutes in, and my patience had evaporated completely by the end. All I can conclude is that journalists equate the combination of copious swearing, nudity, simulated sex, jumping around on stage, race relation allusions and South Africa as cutting-edge and electric. The much-promised sexual tension and climactic scene (er, in more ways than one) actually drove me to hysterical (though silent, I hasten to add) laughter – it was just so awkward. And I personally don’t equate two people shouting at each other with irresistible sexual tension, so this ‘tension’ was lost on me, rendering much of the action pointless. The script, also, should have been tightened up – it was genuinely all over the place, extremely repetitive and didn’t actually take us anywhere. The disappointing thing was that some potentially intriguing moments touched on (Julie’s threat to cry rape, the Christine’s comments on identity) weren’t explored fully or even at all, at the expense of a continuous “I hate you”/”I love you” exchange between Julie and John (Jean in the original play). Some bits also just came out of nowehere (Christine’s reference to her effaced fingerprints) and just hung there, without context or development, and the symbolism was exceptionally heavy-handed. All in all, disappointing for me, though obviously I am in the minority on this one.

Anyway, back to the baking challenge. The showstopper challenge for bread week (series one) was to make 24 sweet and savoury rolls, which I assumed meant 12 of each. Now that I’m re-watching the episodes on the BBC, I can see that some people actually made about six different breads. Exciting – but maybe overkill? This challenge was actually one I meant to replicate faithfully (i.e., doing both rolls at the same time), but then we bought (shocker) some bread and doing both at the same time would have greatly exceeded our bread needs and been a waste.

For the sweet, I made some very British Pembrokeshire buns, adapted from a National Trust cookbook. I must admit that while they were loved by some in the house, they were too similar to hot cross buns for my taste, even omitting the candied peel which I cannot stomach. The buns were slightly unusual in using lard, which seemed to make them softer for longer than breads made with other fats. Very easy and quick, too; they also made good French toast. The only disadvantage is really the block of lard sitting in my freezer.

For the savoury, chorizo-stuffed rolls from Casa Moro, for which I had to double the recipe, and didn’t stuff enough, with the delicious result that I could snack on loads of fried chorizo while waiting for them to bake. The oil which the chorizo gives off in the original frying is incorporated into the dough, which is great as it’s not wasteful, and making them rich, slightly oily and quite salty. Delicious, but not the kind of roll you eat dozens of in one sitting. The directions from Casa Moro on timings weren’t always very helpful so I’ve tried to clarify them based on my experience.

Pembrokeshire buns, tea, magazines, TV remote. Happy times ahead.
Pembrokeshire buns, tea, magazines, TV remote. Happy times ahead.

Continue reading “Baking challenge: sweet and savoury rolls”

RECIPE: tiny white bean, chorizo and kale stew

My friend Tina came to dinner some time ago and I wanted to whip something up that combined cold-weather appropriate deliciousness, chorizo, and jewel-like colours.

This chorizo, cannellini bean and kale stew was firstly inspired by Nigella Lawson’s butter bean mash, which is why I used the garlic and rosemary to start off the stew, with no onion to muddy up the flavour (I do love onion, but it wasn’t right here).

I bought the cannellini beans from Waitrose and they were ridiculously tiny and adorable, even after soaking. A note on soaking beans: the back of the packet of cannelini beans suggested using 75g dried for 125g cooked beans, and for this particular bean this suggestion seemed about right. I wanted the equivalent of two tins worth so soaked about 230g dried beans, give or take. Dried bean to tinned bean equivalencies are very much a work in progress and one day I shall probably produce a chart. I find chickpeas to be the most unpredictable.

A good bowful

As for the tomatoes, I used one of those leetle half-tins of plum tomatoes but there’s no reason not to use half a normal tin, maybe freezing the rest if you have no immediate use for it. Even with the tomato paste I didn’t want this to be a dominantly tomato-tasting stew, hence using half a tin.

What I liked about the chorizo was that some is minced and stirred through the stew, and some is sliced for use as a garnish. Drizzling the stew with a touch of the chorizo cooking oil is pretty and delicious, though as ever don’t go overboard.

Stewing away, with a panful of chorizo next to it

Little white bean, chorizo and kale stew

230g cannellini beans, soaked overnight
2 – 3 TBS olive oil
1 – 2 sprigs rosemary, de-stalked, spiky leaves bruised
2 – 3 cloves garlic, sliced
230g (half a normal tin) plum tomatoes
1 TBS tomato paste
200g chorizo, half sliced into rounds, half chopped into bits (what I did was slice this half into coins and then quarter them)
about 100g curly kale. If you have any large tough stems you might want to cut the leaves in half through the stem

1) Drain the beans, put in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Once boiling, cook at a rolling boil for ten minutes (apparently essential for all beans, to destroy their evil toxins), then turn down to a steady simmer and cook till tender, 40 mins – 2 hours. (Yes. This can be summed as ‘cook till tender your way’, should you have one. But the devil is in the detail). (I start checking after half an hour to see how tender they are – they’re unlikely to be done after 30 minutes but it helps gauge how long you’ll need to cook them for). NB: this step can be done in advance

2) In a separate pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and add the rosemary and garlic. Stir 30 second – 1 minute, until they start getting fragrant.

3) Add the cooked, drained beans, tomatoes and tomato paste and stir together. Cover, turn heat to low and let lightly simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or more (as convenient) to let the flavours meld a bit

4) Meanwhile, heat up a frying pan and dry-fry the minced chorizo until cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper and stir through the stew.

5) Add the curly kale and cook for a further 5 – 10 minutes (or slightly more depending on how tough your kale is) until the kale is cooked and tender (test a stalk!)

6) Meanwhile dry-fry the chorizo rounds until cooked through.

7) Decant stew into bowls and garnish with chorizo. And then some more and then some more because yuuuuuuum.

This would serve about four, and it tastes good reheated.