Monday, May 15, 2006

Chorizo Salad

Had that rare thing - a bad experience with food bought from Borough Market this weekend. I had a cooking chorizo in the fridge - a lovely coarse meaty thing with lots of paprika to stain and flavour the oil it secretes as it warms in a pan. I bought a string of them from Brindisa a few weeks ago and have frozen most of them for future dishes. As I was out Saturday afternoon I wanted a dinner that would be reasonably quick to make on my return - and I wanted to use my sausage. So the solution was mussels - fry the chorizo with a little garlic, add some white wine then tip in the mussels when it simmers. Cook till they open then add a generous handful of chopped coriander before serving in big bowls with crusty bread. Ticked every box.

Except of course it didn't. I bought a kilo of mussels from Applebee's, assuming they would be fresh - the fish they had laid out on ice certainly looked that way, no nasty smell. The mussels were at the back of the counter and it wasn't possible to see them before buying but I had no reason to think that I would need to check before purchasing. One of the best things about shopping at Borough is the quality of the produce - it is true you pay a premium but in return you are getting the best - or that is the way it should work and indeed usually does.

Not this time though. I got home around 7, poured out a glass of wine (helps the creative process) and unwrapped the mussels. Smelt a bit fishy but not too bad. Tipped them into a sink full of cold water then started to pick them over. First one out had an open shell - dead. Second one was the same. Next one was fine as was the one after that. But then the next few were also dead - in fact by the time I had checked half of them the pile in the bin was bigger than the pile in the colander. Disaster really - not enough good ones to make a decent supper and with that many bad ones it didn't seem worth risking eating the rest. Food poisoning from shellfish is a truly nasty experience.

So - really hungry by now and dinner's in the bin. A quick survey of what else we had that could be rustled up into a dinner that would be ready soonish rather than the other side of midnight and the bag of jersey royals seemed to hold the key. I had some peppers - classic with spanish cooking - and a lovely big bag of rocket. With my chorizo this could be good.

Chorizo Salad

350g/12oz jersey royal (or other new) potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
1 chorizo sausage, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced
150g/6oz rocket
2 eggs
1 tbspn olive oil

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the sliced peppers. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes over a gentle heat till they are sweet and caremalised. Halve the potatoes and cook them in salted water till tender.

Put a pile of rocket onto two plates, then add the cooked peppers. Fry the sliced chorizo in the same pan as the peppers for a couple of minutes till the oil runs. Scoop it out with a slotted spoon and add to the plates. Poach the eggs till set but still with runny yolks. Drain the potatoes and fry them briefly in the oil that has been flavoured by the peppers and the chorizo till they take up the deep ochre colour of the paprika. Add to the plates then top each plate with a poached egg.

In the end it was almost as good as the original plan! Think now I should have kept the bad ones and taken them back next week - but didn't seem worth the smell in the fridge for a week.

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