Every cook needs a few flavor bombs in his or her kitchen, ingredients that can take a dish from tasteless to tasty with minimal time and effort.
Salt is the most basic flavor bomb, even more useful now with the availability of various flavored, smoked, and sea salts. Artisan olive oil and real balsamic vinegar (not the caramel and sugar-tweaked stuff) are others. Garlic, smoked paprika, truffle paste, and fresh herbs from the garden are staples of my kitchen.
And one more: chorizo.
Not the raw Mexican kind, which is more like Italian sausage with cojones, but the cured Spanish chorizo -- small, thin, porky links with a salami-like texture, zapped with pimenton and garlic.
Just a few slices can add a hauntingly smoky, dusky flavor to
everything from omelets and potatoes to stews, soups, and sautés. Even
better, they're dirt cheap -- two stubby links go for around $3 -- are easy
to find at local markets, require only reheating (since they're already
cured) and, until opened, don't need to be refrigerated. (All of which
also make them an excellent addition to your hurricane food stash.)
of the simplest ways to enjoy chorizo's lusty charms is to skewer
slices with chunks of marinated chicken and grill, letting the molten
pork fat and pimenton do their flavor thing. This recipe is about as
easy to make as it is to eat, though not so easy to stop eating.
Grilled Chicken and Chorizo Skewers with Spanish Orzo
skewers: 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in one-inch cubes
small chorizo links, sliced quarter-inch thick
2 garlic cloves,
grated on microplaner or minced
1 T. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
of one lemon and a bit of lemon zest
1/3 C. olive oil
pepper to taste
For orzo: ½ C. uncooked orzo
tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 T. tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
Handful of kalamata
olives, pitted and halved
1 zucchini cut in quarter-inch dice or
handful of peas or veg of choice
Salt and pepper to
At least six hours in advance or overnight, combine
garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and salt and pepper
in plastic bag, add chicken cubes and mix well. Refrigerate until ready
Soak skewers (if using wood) in water to keep them from
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for a few
minutes, add tomato paste and veg, and sauté a couple of minutes more until
the paste caramelizes. Add chopped tomatoes, salt, and pepper and simmer
until it achieves sauce-like consistency. Add olives.
in boiling water until just al dente. Add to tomato mixture and
reserve. Skewer chicken and chorizo in alternating pieces. Discard
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Grill or broil chicken over medium-high heat until
lightly charred and cooked through. Reheat orzo, giving it a few
vigorous stirs. Plate it all up and serve. Serves two.