November 2015

choripan

When we lived in Argentina, we lived in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood. Not far from my host mom’s house is a huge park, sort of like Buenos Aires’ version of Central Park. They call it El Bosque. Lining the streets leading up to El Bosque, there are a few food vendors. Street food was not a big part of the food culture in Buenos Aires, at least when we lived there, with one exception: the choripan. Men would work these large grills, metal grates probably 2 feet wide by 5 feet long set over charcoal, lined with sausages. Choripan, moricpan, hot dogs. Alongside their grill would be a small table with condiments, ketchup, salsa golf, chimichurri and these tiny french fried potato bits designed to add a little crunch to your hot dog.

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You could, of course, get a choripan at most restaurants and cafés as well, and chorizo plays a supporting role in the great Argentine tradition of the parrillada. Argentine chorizo is mild and juicy, with a few mysterious gristly bits in there for good measure. It’s served on a yeasty white roll when ordered as a choripan. A hardworking jar of chimichurri is already on the table waiting for you to douse your sausage with it.

When our friend Adrian mentioned he was craving a choripan and asked if I knew where he might get a good one in San Francisco, we decided instead to make our own. Argentine chorizo is very different from Spanish or Mexican chorizo, neither are a good substitute, and Jordan does not refuse an opportunity to make sausage. We set to work.

Though we couldn’t quite capture full Argentine experience, lacking a parilla in our San Francisco apartment, I do think we did the choripan justice. A juicy, fatty sausage, seasoned with garlic, paprika and red wine, served on a soft, crusty bread, covered in a sauce made from parsley, cilantro, garlic and red wine vinegar. We each ate two, observing another great Argentine tradition of overeating on Sundays.

Argentine Chorizo, adapted from the basic garlic sausage recipe in Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
2 lbs beef chuck
2.5 lbs pork shoulder
1/2 lb bacon
1.5 oz (40 g) kosher salt
1 tablespoon (10 g) pepper
1/2 tablespoon (5 g) paprika
3 tablespoons (54 g) minced garlic
1 cup (250 ml) good red wine, chilled
10 feet hog sausage casings, rinsed two times and then soaked for at least 30 minutes in tepid water

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Cut the meat into 1″ cubes, discarding the sinew-y bits. Toss with the salt, pepper, paprika and garlic in a large bowl. Put in the freezer until the meat is very cold, almost frozen, about 30 minutes. Also freeze an extra bowl and your meat grinder attachment.

Grind the meat through the small die of a meat grinder into a cold bowl. We use the meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer. Once the meat is ground, put it back in the freezer for another 10 minutes to chill it again. It’s very important to keep the meat cold so the fat doesn’t melt and your sausage has the best texture.

Using the paddle attachment or a good spoon, mix the meat on low speed for one minute. Then slowly add the wine.  Increase the speed to medium and mix for another minute, or until the meat looks sticky. Take a small piece of the meat, and cook it up. Test for seasoning and adjust as needed. Then put it back in the freezer.

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Stuff your sausages! We use the sausage stuffer attachment on the kitchen aid mixture. Here’s a video that shows how to do this step. Don’t rush your sausage stuffing. Twist into 6″ links. Grill your sausages until the internal temperature is 150° F. Store the remaining sausages in the freezer.

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Chimichurri Sauce, from Cook’s Illustrated
1/4 cup hot water
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/3 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
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Combine hot water, oregano, and salt in small bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften oregano. Pulse parsley, cilantro, garlic, and red pepper flakes in food processor until coarsely chopped, about ten 1-second pulses. Add water mixture and vinegar and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and slowly whisk in oil until incorporated and mixture is emulsified. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour. If preparing sauce in advance, refrigerate and bring to room temperature before using.

 

shortbread, two ways

Remember when there was a month called October? No? Me neither.

Somehow we’re already half way through November, Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon. Also on the immediate horizon, for me anyway, JAPAN. I’m lucky enough to be traveling to Tokyo and Kyoto with my company for a week in early December. I am beyond excited for the food and for the cute. I expect nothing less than a jet-lagged haze of sensory overload.

Inspired by my upcoming trip, I decided to experiment. One half of the sablé butter cookies would be studded with cacao nibs, the other half, flavored with matcha green tea powder. I had some tea-flavored cookies while in Taipei last year, and according to my sources, the Japanese excel at French pastry and most treats in Japan have a matcha variation.

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The results are as follows: Though the green tea flavor was pleasing, earthy and delicate, it’s hard to beat chocolate. Especially when that chocolate has the crunchy texture of cacao nibs, jumping out at you as the rest of the buttery cookie melts away.

Whole Wheat Sablés with Cacao Nibs – or – Matcha Green Tea, adapted from Orangette via Alice Midrich
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 scant cup whole wheat flour
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cacao nibs
OR – 2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder

In a medium bowl, mix together the flours. If you’ve decided to go the matcha route, mix in the green tea power with the flours.

In a mixer, cream the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until the butter is smooth, but not fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the nibs, if using. Add the flour, and mix until just incorporated. Knead the dough with your hands a bit, to make sure the flour is fully incorporated. Form the dough into a 12″ by 2″ log and and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

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Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Slice the cookies into 1/4″ slices and space evenly on the cookie sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are light golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container, for up to 1 month. They won’t last that long.

-Emily

paris, je t’aime

It seems wrong to write about cookies in light of Friday’s events. My heart is breaking for Paris.

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My heart is filled with sadness for all of the people who’ve been affected by this terrible tragedy, for everyone whose life will not ‘get back to normal’ anytime soon. How one person can decide it is their right to take the life of another, another who is just going about their life, eating dinner, spending time with friends, walking down the street. Such brutal, unchecked violence against innocent people is impossible to comprehend.

The strength of the people of France in the wake of terror is inspiring. Instead of fear, they hold love and pride in the their hearts, filling parks and streets, communing together, sharing their pain and spreading hope. It’s remarkable.

Hug your people close, tell them you love them more than you already do. Life is short. Fear must never win.

In love and hope,
Emily