Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Great Premise, Flawed Execution

Good evening everyone!  As always, we try to branch into new and interesting flavor combinations on the blog.  This recipe caught me by surprise.  It’s a pasta dish, but it’s virtually sauceless.  Granted, it has some liquids to keep the main ingredients together, but it does not completely revolve around some sort of sauce.  It’s more focused on the unique ingredient combination and making that the primary focal point of this dish.  But would it actually work?

The Recipe:  Penne with Arugula, Chorizo, and Romano
Original Recipe Found In:  America’s Test Kitchen 30 Minute Suppers

What You’ll Need:
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 Ounces Chorizo, sliced into thin disks
3 Shallots, chopped fine
5 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Pound Penne
1 Cup Grated Romano Cheese
5 Ounces Baby Arugula

Begin by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  When at a boil, add the salt and pasta and cook to al dente, or package directions.  Drain the pasta and return it to the original pot.

In a large, nonstick skillet, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat until the oil is shimmering.  Add the chorizo and cook until a golden brown color forms on both sides, about three minutes per side.  Something to take note of is when the chorizo is cooking, all that will be left behind is rendered fat.  This will be an important part of the dish, since the next part relies on the fat left behind.  Be sure the chorizo is cooked nice and thoroughly before moving on to the next step. 

Cooking up some chorizo

For this recipe, I am using authentic chorizo, not the soy chorizo I used a couple of months ago (Tastes Kinda Like a Chili Dog).  Not only have we found a store locally that sells it (thank you World Market!) but now, we don't have to search all over the metro to find it...again.  For this recipe, one could use soy chorizo and make it a completely vegetarian meal.  Alterations would have to be made to "brown"-ing it and scooping up the little pieces might be a pain.  Thankfully, we were able to find authentic chorizo again and joyfully using it in recipes once more.

Move the cooked chorizo onto a paper towel lined plate.  Add the chopped shallots to the empty skillet and cook until softened and a light brown color appears, about five minutes.  When the shallots are cooking, the browned bits from the chorizo should be scraped up, infusing the shallots with more flavor.  

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, less than a minute.  Then add the wine and reduce by half for almost a minute.  After that, add the chicken broth and cook until the sauce thickens, about three to five minutes.

In the pasta pot, add the sauce, chorizo, cheese, and arugula.  Toss the combination until the arugula is slightly wilted.  Serve and enjoy!

The End Result:

As much as I had high hopes for this recipes - it didn't pan out. While the flavors did work quite well together, there were other issues that kept this dish from being a success.   The subtle spiciness of the chorizo, the peppery flavor of the arugula, and the depth of the cheese made the dish stand out.  The pasta absorbed the salt and added a nice flavor to it.  Unfortunately, an error in the kitchen made the entire dish not that great.  I cooked the chorizo and the penned longer than anticipated and made the dish really chewy, and the chorizo rock hard.  All in all, a superb dish would have been awesome, but getting over zealous in cooking time made it worse.

Thanks Maggie. Not every dish is going to pan out, unfortunately, it's usually Maggie that learns these lessons the hard way. Learn from it and grow as a cook - that's what we always say. That's all we have for you this evening.  Tune back on Thursday for my brand new recipe.  Until then,


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