Pasta With Chorizo and Chickpeas

by Anne Maxfield on February 26, 2015

Accidental Locavore Pasta With ChickpeasWhen the Accidental Locavore saw this recipe on epicurious, I was curious enough to see how chickpeas and pasta would work together to give it a shot. Having all the ingredients on hand was an added impetus. This serves 6:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 3/4 pound fresh Mexican chorizo or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 12 ounces small dried pasta (like gemelli, or orecchiette)
  • Salt
  • Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest (for serving)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta. While the pasta water is heating, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook 3 minutes until they begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Add chorizo and cook, breaking into large chunks with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 5-7 minutes.

Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to skillet and cook, stirring, until paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 15-20 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

While the sauce is thickening, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to the skillet. Cook, stirring and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle pasta with lemon zest, Parmesan and parsley, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: If I didn’t have everything on hand (except the parsley), I probably never would have made this. That being said, this was a pretty good dish! The lemon zest is the key ingredient—taking it from being only ok to being really good. My biggest complaint with it was that the chorizo I was using ended up in very tiny pieces. The next time I make it, I’ll try not to break it up so much (however, this might not be an issue with other types of sausage). Any type of fresh sausage would probably work well. I’d give it a try with merguez (maybe substitute cilantro for the parsley), or any kind of Italian sausage – I have some with broccoli rabe in it, that would be good!

 

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Making vs. Buying: When is it Worth it?

by Anne Maxfield on February 23, 2015

Accidental Locavore Gin and VermouthThere are so many things you can make yourself these days (what a surprise—how did we get food before there were supermarkets?), but the Accidental Locavore was wondering when it was worth it to make something and when it was just easier to pop into a store. I’ve made my own granola, yogurt, and bacon for a long time now, mostly for taste, but in the case of granola, because it is very difficult to find nut-free granola. Yogurt is simple enough to find, but it’s one of the easiest things to make. Homemade bacon will just spoil you for anything else, and you can make a lot of it and freeze it.

I’ve made butter, both regular and cultured, and while it’s certainly easy, it can be messy and for me, it falls into the better bought category. It’s also one of the few items that isn’t less expensive to make. Cheese too—there are just so many people who make great cheese, that it would take me a long time (and a closer source of raw milk) to make it worthwhile.

Accidental Locavore SansaireThis all came up because I read an article about making your own gin sous-vide and sent it to my friend Ivan. After having a couple of laughs about buying a $300 sous-vide machine to use for 90 seconds (yes, 90 seconds) to infuse your gin, Ivan sent me the following…

For making one’s own gin:

Walk to car in driveway. Enter car, insert key and start engine. After fastening seat belt, drive 6 1/2 blocks to liquor store.

Exit vehicle (sans seatbelt) and enter store.

Proceed to aisle three on your right and walk approx 7 feet.

Select blue-tinted glass vessel labeled “Bombay Sapphire”.

Present vessel to store clerk with $20.00 bill. Receive a small amount of change.

Exit store and re-enter vehicle with vessel in tow.

Re-fasten seat belt, re-start ignition and follow reverse pattern of earlier route to home.

Release seat belt, kill ignition, exit vehicle and enter home.

Accidental Locavore MartiniLocate one glass, several ice cubes, glance at the vermouth bottle, place two olives in glass with ice cubes.

Pour reasonable amount of clear liquid into prepared glass.

Consume contents of glass slowly, while forgetting all of those details about plastic bags and 172 degrees.

Refill glass.

Now then. Isn’t that a whole lot easier?

 

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Chicken Roasted With Bread and Lemon

by Anne Maxfield on February 19, 2015

Accidental Locavore Lemons and BreadEvery now and then the Accidental Locavore needs an undemanding dinner idea. This one with chicken, lemons, bread and caper berries looked interesting. The fact that you just tossed everything on a cookie sheet and popped it in the oven made it even more appealing. Serves 4:

  • 1/2 pound sourdough bread, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup drained caperberries
  • 2 lemons, washed and quartered lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 chicken thighs (with skin and bones)

Preheat oven to 400°. On a large baking sheet, toss the bread, shallots, caperberries and lemons in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush the chicken thighs with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken on the bread and roast for about 40 minutes until the thighs reach 160 with an instant-read thermometer. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Chicken Thighs With BreadMy verdict: I thought these were great, but Frank wasn’t as enthusiastic. Could be because I took the roasted lemon quarters and squeezed it over the chicken and he didn’t. Could be because he’s not a caperberry fan. Could be _____. If you’re like Frank and not a fan of caperberries (or don’t have them taking up room in the fridge), you could use capers (I would sprinkle them in about 10 minutes before the chicken was done or else they might end up singed), or a nice mix of olives. One of the things I liked was that the bread under the chicken was soft, like stuffing, where the rest of the bread was crunchy. We managed to get a great loaf of Peasant French bread from Berkshire Mountain Bakery at the Millerton Farmers’ Market, which added to the taste. This is a recipe that you could easily play with to suit your taste, and the contents of your fridge. I used chicken thighs, the original recipe from Food and Wine called for whole legs, but Frank is not a leg man (where poultry is concerned). If you use whole legs or breasts, just increase the cooking time accordingly. A technical note – my baking sheets are the classic aluminum ones, which reacted with the lemon. Next time I’ll probably toss everything in a bowl with the olive oil and line the pan with parchment, it’ll be easier cleanup, too.

Accidental Locavore Chicken With Lemon and BreadMade this a second time and threw some broccoli in the mix. Tossed everything in a bowl and then on a parchment-lined pan. Again delicious! This time I didn’t use the convection setting on the oven and the skin of the chicken wasn’t as crispy, so if you have a convection setting, use it.

 

 

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Amazing 4-Hour Baguettes!

by Anne Maxfield on February 16, 2015

Accidental Locavore My BaguettesIf you’re looking for something to do this President’s Day, here’s a 4-hour project with a delicious result! Sometimes the Accidental Locavore comes across a recipe that just looks unbelievable enough (this can’t work, or taste good) to make me want to try it. Such was the case with the 4-hour baguette recipe I found on the Food52 website. Since I’m not a baker, especially of bread, this was even more laughable, but one Sunday I threw down the flour and yeast and went to work. Makes 3 small baguettes:

  • 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) tap water, heated to 115°
  • 1 teaspoon (1/8 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 ¼ cups (14 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (3/8 ounces) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (note: if using a fine-grained salt like table salt, fine sea salt or other brands of kosher salt, you will need to use a smaller volume)
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing bowl
  • ½ cup ice cubes

 

Accidental Locavore Bread for RisingWhisk together water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir with a fork until dough forms and all flour is absorbed; let dough sit to allow flour to hydrate, about 20 minutes. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Remove bowl with dough from oven and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.

Heat oven to 475° F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet; place ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats; place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.

Accidental Locavore Baguettes BeforeUncover; remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and, using the corner of the parchment paper as a guide, slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone or pan. Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms). Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving.

My verdict: Amazing! While Maison Kayser has nothing to worry about (yet), these were everything you’d want a baguette to be—good flavor and a great crust. Much better than anything we can get locally. The texture of the bread itself needs a little work, and my slashes were barely noticeable (time to get a lame, my single edged razor blade wasn’t cutting it – literally), but I’m really nit-picking now. Frank paid them the ultimate compliment, saying “we’ve had worse baguettes in France.” I’m not sure how you would do this without the cast iron pan, ice and pizza stone combo – it sounds weird, but it works wonderfully! I added the sugar to the recipe, it makes the yeast work better, but it’s not essential.

 

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