Chorizo, cycle touring wonders 1.

So this meal started as a thrifty meal. I had little money when I finished university and a chorizo is really cheap in the UK. Only a little bit of chorizo would give a big taste boost to an otherwise miserly veggie stew. The first incarnation was chorizo and chickpeas served with couscous or stale toasted bread. This moved on to contain chicken when I was able to afford meat on a day to day basis rather than just as the occasional treat. Its most recent incarnation was as a camp stove one pot wonder when cycle touring.

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Cycle touring rocks and I when we have two MSR dragonfly stoves we don’t have to compromise on our eating too much. When you cycle 100km+ a day and pull luggage over 1500m-2800m high alpine passes I don’t want to eat any old crap pasta. I still want to really enjoy filling my face with as much food is humanly possible. The pinnacle (pun intended) of our culinary tour de France being the Coq au Vin I made at the top of the Col d’Iseran (2770m). I felt so Floyd. We camped at the top after climbing uphill for 48km behind an out of action for the summer ski lift and my husband and our friend drank beer cooled with snowmelt and I drank the leftover wine. My husband was the real star of the show that day as he carried the beer, 2 bottles of wine and a kilo of chicken pieces all the way to the top.

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Anyway back to chorizo. A chorizo (at a euro and a half per sausage) is portable, keeps well in a sweaty pannier and is very tasty. It’s great on Sundays when nothing is open and the weather on tour is too hot to keep some meat or leftovers by. My husband is a total carnivore and says no to veggie dinners on tour so this keeps him happy too.

I had made a tapas style meal a few nights before I made chorizo stew this week so had quit e a few leftovers as Australian chorizo is not quite the same as proper Spanish chorizo. It’s like comparing a tabby kitten to a tiger and wasn’t so nice to eat as part of a selection of cold meats. The leftover chorizo was winking at me so when the In-laws arrived back from a two week cruise I knocked up a small stew for them. They had been trapped on a boat in the pacific being force fed 3 courses a day till their livers exploded so I didn’t serve this up with a starch as well but some couscous (fine grain if you can get it), rice, extra potatoes or some nice bread to mop up the juice all work really well.

Serves 4 normal apetites, 2 cycle tourers.

Ingredients:

A chorizo (one is fine, two if you are feeling greedy)

4 chicken thighs

2 medium onions

A large pepper (capsicum)

4 cloves of garlic

150 ml wine, red or white

1x400g tin tomatoes

4 large tomatoes

250-300g waxy potatoes

1x400g tin chickpeas (you can use raw chickpeas if you remember to soak them the night before and precook them before you start the stew, I don’t think chickpeas lose anything from being tinned).

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

1 tsp sweet paprika (optional)

chilli flakes (to your own level of required heat)

2 tbsp olive oil

Put a large skillet with a lid or saucepan with a lid over a medium heat. Cut up your chorizo into 1cm cubes and the chicken into bite size morsels. Add the chorizo to the pan with one tablespoon of the oil and cook for 1-2 minutes or until they start to leak out their own fats. When you see the red oil escaping from the chorizo add the chicken and fry until lightly browned.

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Whilst the chicken is cooking chop your onions and pepper roughly, again into bite sized pieces and peel and finely chop the garlic. This meal is all about getting tasty lumps of food on your spork and shovelling it into your face! When the chicken is lightly browned remove from the pan along with the chorizo and keep in a safe place away from picking fingers. If your pan is looking a little dry add the other tablespoon of olive oil, if there is lots of red goodness left from the chorizo you might not need it. Add the onion and pepper to the pan and fry for 5 mins until browning a little on the edges and then add the garlic and continue to fry for another minute or until the garlic is starting to brown. At this point add the wine and let it bubble for a minute.

Whilst the onions are on roughly chop the tomatoes and potatoes and after adding the wine add the chopped tomatoes, potatoes, tinned tomatoes and the drained tin of chickpeas. Put the chicken and chorizo back in the pan, the tomatoes should give enough juice to cover all the ingredients in the pan. If they don’t, add a little water at this point to to make sure everything is sitting in fluid. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pan with the lid. Cook on a covered simmer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes take off the lid and add the cumin, thyme, and chilli flakes to your own preference. As the Australian chorizo was lacking in flavour I have added a teaspoon of smoked and a teaspoon of sweet paprika at this point too. If you have proper chorizo then you might not need to add any paprika. As chorizo is salty enough I don’t normally find the need to season with salt. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes uncovered on simmer, until the sauce has thickened and is a deep red.

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Serve in bowls with a starchy accompaniment and stare into the flames of your campfire/wind up lamp with a glass of local vin and think about cycling up more hills tomorrow.

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