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Seasonal Pantry: Cooking lightly with chorizo

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Franco Dunn’s sausages are like no others I’ve ever found anywhere. There is a tenderness, a delicacy to them that I couldn’t account for until recently. It turns out they are stuffed into their casings by hand, not by machine.

Types are rotated so you cannot simply pick up your favorite week after week. This frustrates a lot of customers — we are, at heart, creatures of habit — but for the adventurous, it’s a thrill to see what he comes up with each week.

Dunn calls himself a sausage anthropologist. He communicates online, frequently while playing Internet scrabble, with people all over the world, searching for indigenous sausages. He’s reproduced classic recipes from the island of Malta, from Morocco, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and many regions of Spain, France and Italy and more. Sometimes a sausage appears once in a season and doesn’t show up again for a year or more.

In the summer I typically limit myself to chorizo, as he makes a number of styles, all of which I find utterly irresistible. In the winter, I enjoy his cotechino, which he makes only in the cooler months.

Dunn’s most recent batches of chorizo have been Mexican, one red, one a profoundly delicious chorizo verde. One World Sausage is available only at farmers markets and by special order. Currently, you’ll find them weekly at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market on both Wednesday and Saturday; at the Healdsburg Farmers Market on Saturday and at the Cloverdale Farmers Market on Tuesday evenings. They are also available at the Windsor Farmers Market and the Sebastopol Farmers Market on alternating Sundays, first and third in Windsor, second and fourth in Sebastopol.

Think of this mixture of spicy, tangy pork, tender potatoes and zucchini with just a bit of crunch as a versatile filling or topping, not unlike picadillo or larb (see “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com). It can be made with other types of fresh, i.e., uncured, chorizo but I think this particular dish is best with chorizo verde.

Chorizo Verde, Potato & Zucchini

Makes about 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons local lard

1 pound small new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into small dice

1 pound bulk One World Sausage bulk chorizo verde

1 medium or 3 small zucchini, cut into small dice

—Kosher salt

—Juice of 1 lemon or lime

—Black pepper in a mill

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Put the lard into a heavy skillet set over medium-low heat and, when it is melted, add the potatoes and cook, turning now and then, until almost but not quite tender, about 10 minutes. Push the potatoes to one side or transfer them to a bowl, add the chorizo, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, crumbling the meat with a fork all the while, until it loses its raw look. Use a fork to gently combine the potatoes and chorizo, add the zucchini and season with salt.

Continue to cook gently turning everything, until the zucchini are just barely tender. Add the citrus juice, cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover, taste, correct for salt and acid and season with several turns of black pepper. Remove from the heat and fold in the cilantro. Serve right away, using one of the suggestions below, or cool and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat as needed.

Serving Suggestions

For tacos, warm corn tortillas on a hot griddle or ungreased cast iron pan until hot and tender but not at all crisp. Fill tortillas with the mixture, top with hot sauce or salsa and enjoy right away.

Serve over shredded cabbage and serve with lime wedges and fresh salsa.

Serve over steamed rice, with an array of condiments, including shredded cabbage, minced radishes, minced serranos, chopped cilantro, chopped white onion and lime or lemon wedges.

Serve over black beans and top with diced avocado, chopped tomato and grated cheese of choice. Add a spoonful of Mexican crema to each serving if you like.

Spoon over queso fundido (see “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com) right when it comes out of the oven, top with salsa and serve it right away, with soft hot corn tortillas alongside.

Chorizo and eggs can be wonderful or disappointing and I find the best versions are made at home. In taquerias, the mixture can be watery, with poor quality eggs that are folded into the meat too quickly. This makes a great breakfast, brunch or dinner, when you’ll want cold Mexican beer or agua fresca alongside.

Classic Chorizo and Eggs with Salsa Verde

Serves 4 to 6

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small seeded serrano pepper, minced

1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

—Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

—Kosher salt

—Black pepper in a mill

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound fresh bulk chorizo or chorizo verde, preferably from One World Sausage (see Note below)

8 farm eggs from backyard or farm market chickens, broken into a bowl and well beaten

12 small corn tortillas, heated

—Lime wedges and Mexican crema, for garnish

—Hot sauce, such as Tapatio or Cholula

Put the garlic, serrano, oregano, cilantro, parsley, lime juice and vinegar into a small bowl and toss gently with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the olive oil, taste and correct for salt and acid. Cover and set aside.

Set a heavy skillet--cast iron is perfect--over medium high heat, add the chorizo and cook, breaking the meat up with a fork all the while, until it is crumbly and has lost its raw look. Spread the chorizo evenly over the pan and pour the eggs over the meat. Let set up for about 60 to 90 seconds before using a large spoon to turn the eggs and meat here and there a few times. You want things broken up but not stirred.

Working quickly, set 2 tortillas onto individual plates, spoon chorizo and eggs on top and add a dollop of salsa verde, a lime wedge and some crema to each portion. Serve right way, with hot sauce alongside.

Note: If you use a commercial chorizo from a supermarket, you may find that it releases a lot of fat; if this happens, use a paper towel to soak it up before adding the eggs. One World Sausages release very little fat and don’t need to have any removed.

Michele Anna Jordan has written 21 books to date, including the new “Good Cooks” series. Email Jordan at michele@saladdresser.com. You’ll find her blog, “Eat This Now,” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

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