I have bought a vast quantity of natural pig and sheep intestines already this winter, all to be used as casing for sausages.
Whoever first thought of stuffing animal intestines with meat and then cooking it was a genius. Pure and simple. I do not think anyone has any idea of the true number of different sausages that exists worldwide, nor the exact amount of tonnage consumed by us human in the course of an average year. I bet it is a lot; a helluva lot. And I bet that if you would take one end and start to circumvent the earth at the equator dragging the sausage behind, you will complete the journey many times before you run out of sausage. And maybe, if you were to stop along the way, and lit a gigantic fire, you’d be able to feed the entire world at least one meal consisting entirely of cooked sausage. Now would that not be nice, my mom would say, and she would pray that she does not get a few links of blood sausage or boudin sausage.
Not all sausages are nice to eat (they can be very culturally specific) and not everyone makes good sausages. Thus, one needs to source sausages with great care, or make them yourself. The fact that most sausages are made with ground up ingredients makes them ideal for hiding less than perfect components for greater profit.
Although chorizo is not the most popular sausage in Namibia, it is one of the world’s great master sausages. With its origins in Europe – probably Spain and/or Portugal – chorizo (or chouriço in Portugese) is a cured, fermented and smoked sausage made mostly with pork. It has a distinctive red-orange colour caused by the addition of smoked, dried pimento or paprika to the spice-base. It is likely that the Portuguese refugees from Angola (1976) established this sausage as part of the large Namibian culinary landscape.
I made our own version of chorizo for the first time last year. Oh! It was so good. So very, very good.
In addition to the paprika (and make sure you use only the best, smoked version) chorizo requires only chili, some oregano, garlic and a few other essentials such as salt and black pepper. But feel free to play around; you won’t be the first one. A new version of the chorizo was created wherever the Spanish or the Portuguese left a footprint, and that is a lot of places; even Goa in India and the Philippines have their own brand of chorizo.
Chorizo is a very versatile sausage, which is partly why it is popular. It could be used with just about anything that requires spiciness and smoky flavours. It is great with bean and rice dishes, pizzas, and salads, and with prawns it had forged a most delectable relationship that has lasted just about forever.
In fact, I cannot think of one ingredient that would not benefit from the presence of chorizo. It is a simply, a marvelous culinary partner to something else somewhere else in the world.
Given that I am always on the run, I never have enough time during the week for elaborate meals any more. Pasta has become quite a favourite, and when the topping is chorizo-and-prawns, I do not miss any of those elaborate dinners. Not for a single minute.
Tagliatelle with Prawn and Chorizo
500 grams Pasta la Vita Tagliatelle
1 Chorizo sausage, sliced thinly and at a slight angle
500 grams Raw prawns, shelled and deveined, reserve the shells for the sauce
10 Cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium Carrot, diced
1 Stick celery, diced
1 medium sized White onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, diced
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 tablespoon Butter
350 milliliters Dry white wine
250 milliliters Cream
Basil leaves (to taste, for garnish)
1. To make the sauce, sauté the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, prawn shells and thyme over a medium heat in the butter for about 10 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce by half, then add the cream and simmer for 2 minutes. Strain the sauce, reserving the liquid and check for seasoning. Set aside and keep warm.
2. Cook the pasta to packet instructions. It should be cooked al dente, i.e. it should still be firm to the tooth. Not overly soft and mushy. Once cooked strain it and toss it through a little olive oil so it stays loose. While the pasta is cooking, place the chorizo in a cold pan and bring the heat up to render the oil out of the sausage. Once there is heat in the pan add the prawn meat and pan- fry for a couple of minutes each side. Remember to turn the chorizo as well. Set the prawn and chorizo aside and keep warm.
3. When ready to serve, toss together the pasta, sauce, chorizo, chives and tomatoes in a large bowl. Spoon the pasta mix into shallow bowls and place some prawns on top. Garnish with some fresh basil leaves.