Spanish Rice with Chorizo

As the chilly days of Winter have finally settled in, it is time to dig into the pantry in earnest, to enjoy finally and without guilt all that has been stored from last year’s harvest.

One of my favorite foods to warm up with on a cold day is chorizo.  This spicy, Spanish-style sausage can be made with pork or beef, and enjoyed fresh or smoked.  This sausage can be quite hot, and smoking seems to tone down the fiery hue just a hair.  Distinctly “taco” in flavor,  chorizo is the perfect way to add bright heat to a dish.  This sausage is usually presented in rope form, and thus can be grilled whole for a super-hot sandwich, or sliced and added to a casserole dish or soup/gumbo.  Sliced and cooked, the heat (which is trapped in the fat) can escape into the broth or sauce to deliver a slightly milder flavor.  Another great way to prepare it is to slice open and crumble the meat and serve with beans and greens or my favorite, Spanish Rice.

Spanish rice is a great dish to make when you want to dig into the Winter’s store.  The ingredients for this meal are ones that are common to find in the home preserver’s pantry.  Canned tomato sauce, onions, and garlic from the root cellar, sweet peppers and chorizo from the freezer and dried herbs are all fairly easy to put up and can all be used here.  If you don’t have any one of the items use what you have and supplement the rest from the shops.

Check at your farmer’s market or local foods store to find these items that perhaps someone else has put up!  Even in the height of the cold season, you are still likely to find for sale local onions and garlic, meats and probably even dried herbs.  Here in the Binghamton, NY area, is an awesome little local foods shoppe called Old Barn Hollow Market on the South Side.  It’s really exciting that I can get frozen tomato sauce and sweet peppers from our local area farms there!  (Visit http://www.oldbarnhollow.com for location and hours)

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All items for sale at Old Barn Hollow Market are from local farms.

Spanish Rice is a dish that can be as simple or as complicated as you like.  I don’t use a recipe, but have included one here to get acquainted with.  You can cook the ingredients ahead and then finish them in the oven, or throw everything into the casserole dish and bake.

I made my version by starting with a large casserole dish.  In it I drizzle:

~2 Tbs olive or other oil

Next I added:

1 1/2 cups diced sweet green or red pepper

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 Tbs garlic powder

For this recipe, I want my chorizo broken up, so I removed the casing from the ropes.  Now I can break it up and scatter it with the peppers and onions.  (If I were cooking the dish, I would brown the chorizo to a crumble in a pan.)

Sausage casings can be split and the meat pulled out and used for other dishes!

Sausage casings can be split and the meat pulled out and used for other dishes!

Next I added to the casserole:

2 cups uncooked rice of choice

2 cups tomato sauce or puree

2 cups water or stock of choice

~1/2 tsp salt, dash pepper

Cover the casserole with a lid or foil and bake at 375 *F for about 1 hour.

To cook the ingredients ahead, you would saute the peppers, onions and garlic and chorizo in olive oil until veggies are soft and the chorizo is “browned” (more red, really).  Then add the rice and liquids and cover, simmering for about 15mins, stirring a couple times and careful not to burn.  Then turn everything into a casserole dish and bake covered at 350*F for 30mins.

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Serve hot topped with shredded cheese, chopped chives or green onions and sour cream.

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Spanish Rice is but one dish to make with Chorizo, but it’s a great one to get to know this zesty and interesting ingredient.  Give it a try, then see what else you’re inspired to make.

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