Chorizo with Red Rice, Sauteed Veggies & Cilantro Sauce
It warms the cockels of my qualitarian heart to see more and more farmers selling real meat at farmers’ markets. Produce is a wonderful thing, but real meat — that would be meat from animals that actually graze, mill around outside enjoying themselves, and generally live the way they’ve evolved to live — is much more difficult to come by than good produce. So imagine my happiness when I stumbled upon Corridor Sausage Co. at the Royal Oak Farmers’ Market. What delicious offerings they have! The charcuterie wizards behind Corridor create gorgeously flavored sausages out of locally sourced real meat. So far I’ve had the lamb merguez, chorizo, and an intriguing turkey sausage made with cocoa nibs and sesame seeds. Yum to all!
No matter where you find it or how it’s seasoned, real meat has a much richer flavor than conventional meat. That means it doesn’t take much to make real meat taste fabulous — it already does. Real meat made into sausages is even better since it already includes spices, herbs, and often garlic. Cured meats, too, offer incredible ready-made flavors. All you need to do to make them into a complete meal is add some veggies and perhaps a whole grain or two.
For this dish, I added celery, bell pepper, and green onion to the chorizo, then served it all atop a whole-grain tortilla and underneath a sauce made of blending fresh cilantro with some sauteed garlic and fresh lemon juice. It doesn’t get much simpler than this!
P.S.: As an added bonus, since real meat is so flavorful, it’s easy to extend your servings by including cooked whole grains with the meat. That way, you can easily serve four people with just a half a pound of meat. Why pay more for a full pound of flavorless conventional meat when you can pay less for a half-pound of sublime sausage? Contrary to popular belief, good food costs less, not more. I offer proof in the form of mixing cooked red rice into the chorizo and veggies. Give it a try!
Chorizo with Red Rice, Sauteed Veggies & Cilantro Sauce Serves 4.
1/2 cup raw red rice (makes about 1 1/2 cups cooked rice) OR brown OR black rice
3 ribs celery, chopped (since celery is one of the top-sprayed crops, it’s worth buying organic)
5 green onions, trimmed, chopped
1 small yellow pepper, stems and seeds removed, flesh chopped
1/2 pound chorizo, casings removed
1 bunch fresh cilantro
5 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Whole-grain corn tortillas for serving (note that 100% corn tortillas are gluten-free)
Place rice and 1 cup water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook about 30 minutes or until rice has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat when done.
While the rice cooks, make the rest of the meal. Heat a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 1 minute, then add the celery, green onions, and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes. If they start to brown too quickly or you’d simply rather not have to keep a vigilant eye on the veggies, reduce the heat to medium-low.
Use this 10 minutes to make the sauce. First, discard any browned or otherwise non-fresh-looking cilantro stems and leaves from the bunch. Cut off the bottom third and discard. Rinse the remaining leaves and stems under cool water and shake a few times to dry them. Place in a food processor.
Heat a hefty drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil in a small pan over medium-low heat for 1 minute before adding garlic. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant and turning golden brown. Promptly remove to the cilantro-laden food processor, oil and all. Add lemon juice to the cilantro along with a pinch of sea salt. Blend until mostly smooth, adding another drizzle of oil if the mixture seems too dry and clumpy. Scoop the sauce out into a small serving bowl and set aside.
Back to the veggies! By now, 10 minutes have probably gone by. Add the chorizo to the veggies, stirring often, and cook for another 5 minutes or until chorizo is cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in cooked rice. Place a lid on the skillet to keep everything warm while you heat the tortillas.
Heat the tortillas by placing each one in its own small pan (I find that 6″ crepe pans work beautifully for this) and then dry-toasting them over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side. If they’re coming straight out of the freezer, they might need more heating time. Just keep an eye on them — you want your tortillas to be nicely toasted and slightly brown on each side, not blackened and burnt. You can stack the warmed tortillas into clean cotton towels as you go to keep them warm — simply fold each one into the towel as they come out of the pans.
Serve the chorizo atop the toasted tortillas. Top with cilantro sauce or pass the sauce around the table to give everyone the chance to top their own. Leftover chorizo and sauce can be refrigerated — separately or together — for up to 4 days.