Creamy Chorizo Pasta
If I was forced to choose... this would probably be my signature dish. It's my lovely boyfriend's favorite, and is almost always requested on the rare occasions I ask him what he would like for dinner.
I do consider this an easy weeknight meal, it does not take long at all to put together. Another thing I like about this dish; you can make it your own! Perhaps you're cutting down on dairy, leave out the heavy cream. Maybe you don't like any spice, leave out the extra red pepper flakes. Maybe you don't enjoy chorizo, leave my blog immediately. You will not be missed.
Throughout this particular recipe, you will see a few asterisk (*) marked words. This is some fun vocabulary I have thrown in to help build your familiarity to cooking references/techniques.
While we are discussing our mutual love for chorizo... I exclusively buy D'Artagnan Chorizo Sausage. Chorizo is a Spanish-style pork product, it's packed with smoked paprika which give it it's color and flavor. The D'Artagnan brand is special as it is made from heritage-breed pork, raised humanely, with no antibiotics or hormones; as all their products are, so I highly recommend checking them out!
Creamy Chorizo Pasta
Serves 4-6 generous portions
TIP TIME: Make the full serving size, you won't regret it! This pasta freezes great and is easy to heat back up and enjoy another day. I always keep 8oz and 16oz plastic containers on hand (usually from take out food) and use these to freeze individual servings. I can't trust my boyfriend to eat the proper portion size... and not 3 of them.
1 lb fusilli or cavatappi pasta
1 pack of D'Artagnan Chorizo Sausage
28 oz diced tomatoes, pour out ⅓ cup of juice from the can and toss
1 large sweet yellow onion, small diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
½ cup of parsley (fresh or frozen), chopped
½ tsp red pepper flakes, use less if you want to avoid any spicy-ness
½ cup of parmesan cheese, grated
2/4 cup heavy cream, tempered*
Garnish: more parm and chopped parsley
Remove the casing from the D'artagnan Chorizo by carefully slicing down the side with a knife to cut through the casing and begin peeling it off with your hands. Be sure to point the knife away from you. Once the casing is removed, using your hands, crumble the chorizo into medium-small pieces.
Use a heavy deep pot, a dutch oven works great, and heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, drop in crumbled chorizo and cook for about 5 minutes or until the edges look charred. Stir around every minute to ensure all edges and sides are cooked through.
While the chorizo cooks, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pound of pasta and cook till al dente*. Reserve ⅓ cup to a ½ cup of pasta water, and set aside. Once the past is cooked, drain and set aside. I like to mix through about a teaspoon of olive oil into my cooked pasta just to avoid it from sticking together while the rest of my dish finishes up.
Remove the chorizo from the pot using a slotted spoon or tongs, place chorizo on a paper towel lined plate. The paper towel will soak up the excess grease and keep the chorizo’s charred edges crispy till we add it back in at the end!
Turn the heat of the pot down to medium and add in the diced onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Mix well, picking up all the fond* and oil left over from the chorizo. Once the onions appear translucent, stir in the can of diced tomatoes. I recommend dumping out about ⅓ cup of the juice from the can before adding to the pot (we don’t want to water down the sauce).
Bring tomatoes, onions and garlic to a simmer on medium heat then let them stew for 5 minutes.
Turn heat down low and add cooked pasta, heavy cream, parmesan cheese and a ⅓ cup of reserved pasta water. Add in all but 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, the reserve will be used to garnish.
Combine well! If you want to thin out the sauce more, add more pasta water. If the sauce needs to thicken more either, add more parmesan cheese or let the pasta sit on the heat for another minute or two, then stir through again and re-determine your preference.
Garnish and serve!
*al Dente - The literal translation from Italian is “at the tooth”, and refers to the perfect texture for cooking pasta, where the pasta still has a little firmness and ‘bite’ to it.
*Fond - is a term commonly and almost reservedly used in the United States, it describes the browned bits in the bottom of the pan/pot, usually after cooking a protein.
*Tempered - When adding milk or heavy cream to a hot dish like a soup or creamy pasta, you want to ensure it won't curdle. The way to avoid that, warm the cream or “temper” it first. I begin by measuring the cream out in a measuring cup and sit it on the counter about 5-10 minutes before I plan on using it. Next, I add about 3-4 spoonfuls, one at a time of my hot broth - in this case I used the hot pasta water - and add to the cream, stirring through each time. Once stirred through with no sign of curdling, it's ready to use in your dish.