Sunday 22nd March – Chorizo, Sobresada and Merguez.

We had post match supper after the rugby last night. My husband in a somewhat reflective and deflated mood, whilst our guest (Big Bad Nige) ate three platefuls of food, sporting a very bright green Ireland rugby shirt. He had taken seven of his neighbours, none of whom had ever been out of France to see the Ireland France match earlier in the season. He commented that last night’s supper was a much more sedate affair than the away trip. His only observations on the occasion were it was very hard work and they really liked Guinness – They drank an awful lot of it apparently. They had started at Stanstead airport where they made the flight link – the Celtic brew had fuelled their truculent Gallic belief that the flight confirmation number on their Ryanair “ticket” was, indeed their very own reserved seat number. Not so, as all we budget travellers know – try telling that to seven drunk Frenchmen. Mais non!
Anyway back to hier soir…………………
I had done an amazing job of making the meal look rather impressive for two key reasons.
1. I had not decided what we were going to eat until half time.
2. I am the Mistress of Invention.
The meal was certainly eclectic – a hash of cuisines designed to pack a punch – taste bud recognition is much depleted after excessive alcohol I feel.
We ate patatas bravas, fresh salsa, home made krsa (North African semolina bread), calamari and alioli, and my centrepiece which comprised of fresh chorizo fried with red peppers and bananas. It was a very last minute decision on the bananas. I cannot abide waste, and I had two in my “garde manger” – meat safe – and they looked like they wouldn’t make today’s menu – I duly chopped them up with the pepper, flash fried them in a little olive oil, added the fresh chorizo and threw it into the Aga for about 40 minutes. Heaven on a plate – lots of jostling at the table to get at the pan juices – dark red and smokily delicious.
Nigel was a fan, and had never seen chorizo here to buy that was fresh – he usually opted for the dry version that is readily available.
I explained that it was possible to get it locally, along with Merguez and Sobresada. He seemed mystified on both counts, so I enlightened him
Chorizo – cured pork sausage, flavoured with pimenton and annatto – can be bought fresh and dried.
Sobresada – Similar product but sold “moist” – usually skinned and used as a pre frying addition to dishes – a bit like lardons or cubed pancetta. When cooked it “melts through” the dish, with an astounding flavour – it is known as “Sobresade” here in France.
Merguez – A very popular sausage here – of North African origin. It is spicy and hot, with a more complex range of spice notes. I buy mine here at the local Halal butcher (30 miles away!) – super fresh, quite strong tasting as they use mutton rather than lamb, so an acquired taste for some.
With warmer weather bathing our winter deadened bodies, we can but think of the BBQ season – try these and you won’t be disappointed.
As previously mentioned, try them as a substitute for lardons or pancetta to spike up your bolognese, chilli or whatever. My latest thing is to crumble a bit of sobresada into a frying pan – quickly brown if off – then pan fry a thick cod steak in the heavenly oil. Serve with some olive oil mash and a side order of vine roasted tomatoes. Bistro food at half the price.
If you feel more ambitious you could try making your own. There are excellent recipes here.
Casa Moro Cookbook. – Sam and Sam Clark (Merguez)
Meat Cookery Book – Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
(A fresh version of chorizo, that can double up as a sobresada copy)
Preserved – Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler (Chorizo) I have made this and was thrilled with my efforts – my sausage maker made its maiden voyage with this recipe. I was unable to get annatto seeds for the authentic colouring, but the taste was the real deal. Do use smoked paprika (Spanish – pimenton) as it produces the characteristic smoked flavour.

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