Monday, November 5, 2007

"La Comida Del Barrio" by Aaron Sanchez -Sopes de chorizo and potato filling (corn tarts wtih sausage and potato filling)

Date I made this recipe: November 4, 2007

La Comida Del Barrio – Latin-American cooking in the U.S.A. by Aaron Sanchez
Published by: Clarkson Potter/Publishers
ISBN – 0-609-61075-9
Recipe: Sopes de chorizo and potato filling – p. 91

Once upon a time there were a few cooking shows of note: Julia Child and Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) are the top two that I remember. And then it seemed like TV cooking shows fell into a vast wasteland until the likes of Emeril, Mario (Batali) and Bobby Flay came along on one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread—Food Network.

I have waxed poetic about this channel before but every year, I find myself taping more and more shows off this channel and less and less off the network. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’m deeply interested in all that is food. And it doesn’t hurt that the Food Network, sensing a gold mine, cranks out numerous books containing the selected sticker “As seen on Food Network.” I do not have the complete collection offered by the Food Network but I’m coming close.

Aaron Sanchez, today’s featured cookbook author, is one of the “As seen” celebrities. But I hate to report that until recently, he wasn’t seen by me. Somehow, and I know you’ll be shocked I missed his show Melting Pot…as seen on the Food Network. Missed it, didn’t even know it existed…how could that be? Lo siento, Aaron, lo siento. (I’m sorry).

Well, I might have missed him on his own show, but one day while watching Iron Chef America, he appeared as a contestant and I was intrigued. I can’t recall whether or not he won (and note to the Food Network: you sure don’t make it easy for me to research this!) but before you knew it, he was one of eight contestants on The Next Iron Chef (America) that is currently playing on the Food Network (and is down to the final two – John Besh v. Michael Symon). Although he was eliminated in week 4, I still enjoyed watching him, and the rest of the chefs (including two women) duke it out week after week.

Lucky for you and me, we are not in contention for a spot of a popular TV show nor do we have to prove our culinary talents by making the best airline cuisine ever. (I’m sorry but “excellent,” “airline” and “cuisine” are three words that do not belong together. Ever.) Instead, you simply have to wield a knife and work a frying pan. How hard can that be?

For those of you who have the cookbook, you’ll note that the chorizo (spicy Mexican sausage) and potato filling recipe listed below is meant to fill a Mexican dish called Sopes which means corn tarts. Sopes are basically little corn flour boats, similar to tortillas that contain all kinds of fillings. I would have loved to have made Sopes except for the fact that it called for Masa Harina (corn flour) that was only available where I lived in four-pound bags and I feared that the flour would sit and sit and sit after being used just once and I hate to waste food like that. So, my husband put his filling in some left-over tortillas we had and I ate mine plain. It’s my blog and I can bend the rules if I want too!

I think you’ll really enjoy this filling and can even, as Aaron suggests in the cookbook, use it to accompany your eggs in the morning to add a little zip to your breakfast. Ole’!

Sopes de chorizo and potato filling – Makes 1 quart
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound Spanish chorizo sausage (about 4 links), diced small
1 medium white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water; add the salt and bring to a boil, uncovered. Simmer until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. (Note: I used the microwave and cooked them for about 4 minutes).

Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with the oil and heat over a medium flame. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the sausage renders its fat and gets crispy. Add the onion, garlic, and all the peppers. Cook for 8 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Pour in the broth and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain the tender potatoes and add them to the pan, along with the scallions and cilantro. Cook for 3 more minutes to reduce the liquid, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes: Okay, if you’re like me, you’re tired of putting a vegetable in the crisper only to forget about it until months have gone by which time it – whatever it was – has turned into something that you don’t want to deal with. And so for this reason, as well as cost, I skipped buying a scallion and instead of cilantro, I used about a teaspoon of dried coriander. The recipe seemed to work out just fine.

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