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Chorizo

The first time I remember seeing Chorizo was back in my little hometown of Diamond Lake, Illinois. It was around this time that many Mexican families began to immigrate to the area. They worked very hard founding close knit neighborhoods, which eventually became part of the broader patchwork quilt that epitomizes so much of North America now.
The Chorizo came from a little groceria called "El Barrio". My mother bought it and explained how wonderful it would be when her Mexican friend Linda cooked us scrambled eggs in tortillas with it. She was right.
Chorizo is a sausage of Spanish origination. The best known is from Jabugo in Andalusia. When the Spanish invaded Mexico they brought pigs and eventually Chorizo became emblematic of Mexican foods as well, which led to my experience with Linda's eggs.
The Spanish version of Chorizo is different from Mexico's primarily due to the aging process, which is much longer in Spain. Spanish Chorizo is more like salami; harder and smokier, while the Mexican sausage that is generally enjoyed is akin to a fresh Italian sausage; juicier and spicier.
I incorporate a Mexican adobo paste in my recipe for chorizo. I work it into dishes like my "Caldo Gallego Soup" and "No Roux Black Bean Gumbo".
One time I flew to Boston to cook a charity dinner. Five other chefs from all over the country joined me on a six-course dinner, which the guests paid $600.00 per plate. We donated everything, naturally.
One of the chefs was French born Jean-Louis Palladin, which many of you will know as the brilliant chef of the Washington DC Watergate Hotel restaurant.
Jean-Louis cooked a course of cod with white beans; a white bean consomme and he topped the fish with a dried crust of cooked chorizo. You may be have been surprised to see such a famous French master cook with this lusty sausage of Spanish and Mexican heritage. I think Linda would have loved it.



Beurre Blanc

Those among you who speak French or are very culinary know that Beurre blanc means "white butter". Beurre blanc is one of the mainstay tools in any chefs repertoire. It is a classic sauce and one cannot know haute cuisine without it.
I had no idea what it was for the first 7 years or so I was cooking. The kind of places I started cooking at would look at you crooked if you spoke a word of French unless you said something like, "Got any cables? My Chevrolet needs a jump." I think of Beurre blanc and almost get nostalgic for how green I was. My young chefs at NORMAN'S know so much more about cuisine at their age than I did when I was theirs. It doesn't mean they've learned how to move the tickets perfectly, not get cut and keep the costs in line yet, but they'll learn that too.
I was working at a restaurant called the Port of Call in Key West the first time we made Beurre blanc. The classic way is to reduce wine with some vinegar, chopped shallots, some herbs and a twist of peppercorn until the liquid is almost all gone and then strategically incorporate small pieces of cold butter, whisking steadily. You strain this and then spoon some on your poached or sauteed fish, (generally). During the late 70's and all through the 80's chefs created all manner of Beurre blanc. Raspberry was in vogue for a mercifully short period of time.
I was like a Beurre blanc myself back then. A culinary sort of tabla rasa. But from that solid foundation and some others like it I grew.
Butter is the soul of French Cuisine. Well, it was until recently. Now it shares the stage with warm vinaigrettes, essences, reductions, emulsions, jus, coulis, salsas and more.
But a good butter sauce. Well sometimes, it's just the right thing to do.




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