Chorizo

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale, Chorizo & Potato Soup)

It’s Soup Season here in the wintry Cape, which of course means it’s once again time for Caldo Verde! Though not really a soup-person per se, this Portuguese classic nevertheless remains a perennial winter favourite of mine.

Made with just a few key ingredients, Caldo Verde nevertheless makes for a surprisingly satisfying meal. Indeed, hearty and nutritious this humble dish is everything a rustic soup needs to be, making it the perfect antidote to winter’s chilly bite; and, when the mood takes me, I can eat bowls of the stuff for many a dark day on end.

Literally meaning “Green Soup”, Caldo Verde is very much about the kale.

Though wondrously healthy, kale isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the soup’s other flavours definitely do help mitigate these contentious greens, making Caldo Verde a great way to add some kale to your diet. The key is to cut the leaves into thin strips before shredding them as finely as possible. It is important to take your time doing so, lest you want to end up with a tangle of kale, and not the spoonable soup you should be aiming for.

Admittedly, I do have a bit of a phobia of thin watery soups, and on paper Caldo Verde should be exactly that. But thickened with potato, and blitzed with a blender, nothing could be further from the truth. Caldo Verde actually has a surprisingly comforting viscosity and weight to it. To further enrich the soup, I also like to add a couple of strips of pork fat into the mix before blending. Of course this is entirely optional, but it gives the soup a satisfying mouthfeel it could otherwise lack.

Using a good quality chorizo is also a must, as most of the soup’s flavour comes from the spices rendered from the sausage. To that end it is essential to use cooking/soft chorizo as the smoked version will not yield as much flavour when sautéd. Along with the addition of the pork fat, I also like to blend half the chorizo along with the potatoes. Some recipes frown upon doing so, but I prefer the additional flavour it adds to the dish.

For more soup recipes from the Muddled Pantry, please click here.

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Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo & Walnuts

Like most food bloggers, I am not without the occasional food obsession. Between walnuts, curly kale, kimchi and an alarming appetite for Peppermint Crisps, my obsessions of choice are as varied as they are peculiar. Currently, however, I can’t seem to get enough of brussels sprouts, so much so, I’ve taken to eating them by the veritable fistful. Thankfully, however,  this particular obsession is one of my healthier food fixations.

Widely regarded as one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, brussels sprouts are packed full of nutrients (especially Vitamins C & K), protein and dietary fiber. Banting approved and suitable for those of us who are slaves to the LCHF lifestyle, ‘sprout are even reputed to have cancer busting properties. What more could you ask of the humble ‘sprout? Oh, and they just so happen to taste bloody amazing too!

However, all that said brussels sprouts nevertheless remain a hard-sell.

Bitter and cabbage-like, unfortunately ‘sprouts have always suffered from a bad rep. What, however, is the root of our collective loathing of this much maligned wonder-food? As with almost everything in life, you can probably blame your parents. Most of us bear the childhood scars of being force-feed our greens by well-meaning parents and (with perhaps the exception of the dreaded broccoli) arguably the most detested vegetable was the poor brussels sprout. When most of us think about the ‘sprouts of our youth, we remember them as part of a typical Sunday roast, invariably boiled to within an inch of disintegration. Is it any wonder most of us smothered them in gravy or fed them to the dog on the sly! Sadly, never has such a noble vegetable been treated so poorly and by so many. Whilst many of us remain understandably traumatised by our early experiences, I have actually come to enjoy boiled ‘sprouts and they are almost always part of my roast dinners. More recently, however, I’ve taken to sautéing my ‘sprouts and I have never looked back!

Quick, tasty and incredibly healthy, shredding and sautéing your ‘sprouts is the ultimate way to enjoy this nutritious vegetable. A versatile side-dish, sautéed ‘sprouts go well with any roasted/grilled meats, sausages and burger patties, and whilst they are delicious just shredded and then lightly sautéed on their own, there are endless ways of jazzing up the dish. Add some diced bacon, red onion, mushrooms, red chilli; the options are limitless and all tasty. My personal favourite combination is with some chorizo, spring onion and walnuts – add a runny fried egg on top and you’d have my own personal cruciferous Banting-bliss on a plate!

Obsessed!

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Spanish Pork Casserole with Chorizo & Butter Beans

Spanish Pork Casserole with Chorizo & Butter Beans

A true one-pot wonder, this simple Spanish inspired casserole is big on flavour and refreshingly light on effort. Other than the initial stages of browning the ingredients, this dish pretty much takes care of itself and rewards with a tasty family friendly meal that can be adapted to cater to almost all tastes and preferences.

Now I have to be honest, this wonderful casserole is probably as Spanish as chow mien is Chinese or California rolls are Japanese, but these days cultural authenticity is hardly an impediment to being the poster child of world cuisine. The modern maxim seems to be, “If a dish tastes good, who cares?” and rightfully so. After all, when the results are this tasty, I’m all about the muddled.

So whilst only vaguely Spanish, this simple dish is nevertheless brimming with classic Iberian flavours and, for a change, all the ingredients are perennial pantry staples. Admittedly I take it for granted that my larder resembles an over-stocked cornucopia of random ingredients, but this isn’t the sort of dish that calls for long forgotten packets of shrimp paste, bamboo leaves and jellyfish (yes, I do actually have the latter lurking in the depths of my fridge!). I digress, however.

Thankfully, significantly less exotic pantry staples are required for this dish, namely tins of butter-beans, chopped tomatoes, chorizo and smoked paprika. Admittedly smoked paprika isn’t necessarily a staple pantry item, but is readily available at most supermarkets or it can be substituted with regular paprika and a pinch of chilli powder or flakes. You can also use chickpeas instead of the butter beans and the fennel seeds can be omitted if you don’t have any…like I said, this recipe is nothing if not adaptable.

Note: As with most stews and casseroles, this dish will be all the better from a night chilling in the fridge.

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Pork, Fennel and Butter Bean Stew

Pork, Fennel & Butter Bean StewI have always been a fan of one-pot wonders and this has to be one of my all-time favourites!

Not to be confused with the classic, tomato-based, Spanish stew of Pork, Chorizo & Butter Beans, this wonderful piquant braise is, however, equally delicious! Whilst not strictly Spanish, this humble stew has all the hallmarks of Iberian cuisine; uncomplicated, but packed full of flavour. I must however confess that I don’t usually enjoy dishes that are overtly lemony, but this stew is an exception. The chunks of smoky chorizo adds depth to the zesty broth which, in turn, balances the richness of the pork shoulder. All great meals are about balance, and this stew walks that tightrope brilliantly!

Traditional accompaniments aside, this dish goes very well with just about anything and whilst some fresh tagliatelle or simple mash would be awesome, I personally love it with just some crusty bread. What better way to mop up the delicious sauce? Add a simple rocket/arugula salad, pour yourself a glass of chilled white wine and you have true Mediterranean bliss on a plate. Phenomenal.

For more delicious one-pot wonders, please click here

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Merluza à la Gallega (Spanish Hake and Chorizo)

imageOn the face of it, South African and Spanish cuisines have virtually nothing in common, except for one thing – both countries consume a staggering amount of hake!

Know as merluza in Spain and often referred to as stockfish in South Africa, hake is a staple in both countries. Sadly, hake in South Africa is usually relegated to being given the “fish ‘n chips treatment”, which is a shame as its light and delicate flavour deserves so much more. Generally considered an every-man’s fish, when it comes to more complex dishes, South Africans tend to pass over hake in favour of classier fish like kob or kingklip. In Spain, however, hake is viewed with slightly more reverence than it is afforded in South Africa and, as a result, it benefits from a greater appreciation of its true potential.

My favourite way of sprucing up a piece of hake, Merluza à la Gallega is a revelation to all hake loving South Africans! Quick, tasty and relatively cheap to make, this dish is a true one-pot wonder. I love to serve this dish with some day-old ciabatta, drizzled with some olive oil and lightly grilled – it is the perfect way to mop up the smoky broth!

Trust me, you will never see the humble hake in quite the same way ever again. Impossibly good.

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