Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glazed chorizo with tomato-cilantro sauce on rice...and farmer's markets

First of all the sausage I used in this recipe was not really chorizo; it was tasty, local sausage*. The reason I called it chorizo in the title was to convey the Latin American feel of the recipe: fresh zesty cilantro, sausage and rice. Second, I used basmati rice. Not really Latin, I know, but I find the aroma of basmati rice irresistible and can never get enough of it. So I threw together and mixed ingredients from all over the world and probably offended several food purists out there. Or, if I were a famous chef, I could call it fusion cooking. It doesn't really matter what you call it, if it works, and from the empty plates at the end of our meal I think it did.

Fresh, good quality sausage
ripe tomatoes
a bunch of cilantro (coriander)
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
olive oil
basmati rice


Chop up  the garlic and sauté in a pan with olive oil. Add chilli and tomatoes (I used about two handfuls of vine tomatoes, which I squished before putting them in; messy but quicker) and let soften. When the tomatoes start falling apart, add some salt, sugar (the tomatoes I used were quite acidic). Chop up the cilantro and add the bottom part with the stems to the sauce. Save the rest for later. While it is cooking, heat another pan (I used a non-stick pan) and fry the sausage. When it starts getting brown and sticky turn it and let it caramelize on the other side. Then pour over a fourth of a cup of apple cider vinegar and let reduce over high heat. Break the sausage into pieces and add to the tomato sauce, letting it simmer for a while. When the rice is ready, serve with the sausage and sauce over it. Garnish with abundant freshly chopped cilantro.

Rice the Japanese way
Many years ago, when I was a student I shared an apartment for a few months with K, a Japanese girl who had come to Milan to study fashion design. She taught me how to cook rice the Japanese way. Funnily enough, several years ago I watched my dear friend Y prepare rice the way her Brazilian mother had taught her and it was very similar. K told me to rinse the rice (she used short grain rice) several times in a pot with cold running water. She then told me to let the rice sit and dry for a while. Y on the other hand rinsed her rice in a sieve under running water and then, after draining it, put it directly into a pot. I do it that way now and it works fine. Once the rice is in the pot add cold water to cover the rice and about 1cm more. Then let it cook covered for approximately 20 minutes over medium-low heat without possibly ever lifting the lid. When you start smelling the aroma of the basmati rice quite strongly, the water should have pretty much dried out and the rice should be ready. Cook on a high flame for approximately 15 seconds and then turn off the burner. At this point you can uncover it. If the rice is still a bit hard, let it sit covered for another while, it will cook in its own steam. If it is ready, fluff it up with a fork. In its simplicity it is perfect with curries, savory sauces and stir fries. 

*The concept of farmer's markets is not widespread here. There are a lot of large and to a degree picturesque markets in Milan but more often than not products are not sold directly from producer to consumer. Often produce is imported from other European countries or even farther and even what is Italian often travels quite a distance. David Lebovitz recently did a much better job describing this than I am, talking about Paris. So no, carbon footprint is not really an issue here either. CSAs - GAS (gruppo di acquisto solidale) - are sprouting up here and the idea of local sustainability and seasonal produce is catching on, but it still has a long way to go. On Saturday we went to check out a farmers' market housed in the Consorzio Agrario - Coldiretti building in Via Ripamonti 35 and despite the very few stands, what we purchased was fresh, tasty and cheap. They are open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9am-1pm. We bought large quantities of carrots (6 big ones), zucchini (1kg), lettuce (2 heads), tomatoes (1kg), plums (1/2 kg), a melon, celery (1/2 stalk), peaches (over 1kg), 4 small eggplants, green beans (1/2 kg) and onions (2 large ones) for about €8! We bought some delicious goat cheese (ricotta, fontina and erborinato - a blue cheese) for €7, 6 free-range organic eggs for €2.50 and 4 large slices of veal, sausage and 1/2 top quality mince meat for just under €12.

For those of you living in Milan, check out Cascina Cuccagna in via Cuccagna ang. Muratori open Tuesdays from 3.30pm to 8pm.
Finally, on the second Saturday of the month there is a farmers' market in piazza San Nazaro in Broli.
(P.S. added October 2010 - went there and checked it out. Very little choice, no fresh produce. Unless you are in the area taking a walk, it is not worth it to go there. Very difficult to park).

We also often go to Cascina Cavriano. They grow most of the produce (but not all of it, so be sure to read the signs). They also have a little restaurant, which is open Saturday evening and Sunday lunch (on Sundays you have to book out the whole place as a large group for them to open). The food is real Milanese authentic comfort food. Simple, fresh and quite delicious.
There are many cascine (farms) outside of Milan you can drive to to buy food. We sometimes go there to combine a fun excursion for the kids with our weekly food shopping. As enjoyable as it is, it however sort of defeats the purpose since what you are saving on the food you are spending in fuel and you are leaving a carbon footprint. Also, I do believe strongly in these issues but also have a busy life and household and sometimes opt for the easier, more practical way out, I admit it. You don't necessarily want to spend half of every week end driving around to then have to drop by the supermarket anyway. Am I right?
So, if any of you live in Milan and have other suggestions or tips in the city, I would love to hear them.

Goat fontina and blue cheese from farmers' market


  1. Really interesting tips about cooking rice. I am going to try that method next time!

    I really love farmer's markets. There are, oddly enough, some here that are called farmer's markets but they aren't really. The farmers give it to someone else to sell so it's not quite the same thing.

  2. Hi :)
    I've got the answer to your problem. You can find corn syrup and golden syrup as well in a shop in Chinatown, in Milan, called Kathay


    That's where I shop for food wich is difficult to find in supermarkets :)

    Do you live in Milan? Next time I plan an happy hour for foodies in Milan you *must* come!!


  3. Lorraine - let me know how it goes.
    I always hated cooking rice because it never came out fluffy and dry the way I wanted it. But since I started using this method I have never had a problem.

    Jasmine - I used to go to Kathay literally every week, but haven't been there in a while (they opened a convenient little place near my house). They didn't carry corn syrup then, but I will most certainly check it out. Thanks! They do however sell Golden syrup at my local supermarket, but it is derived from sugar not corn and does not work as well in pecan pie.
    I live in Milan, yes, and would love to meet you!

  4. I have been influenced by the Iranian method for cooking Basmati, which is similar to the one you advocate; rinsing several times, soaking a bit, boiling a few minutes then steaming the rice. The aroma of the Basmati is one I find irresistible as well. GReat dish, that one.

  5. Luv the glaze and sauce that is on the sausage! I have a few links in the fridge right now that are begging for this sauce tonite! I'm going to give it a try!

  6. Hi Joumana (ToB), nice to 'meet' you. I have been following your blog for quite some time now. It never stops surprising me how many ingedients there are in the world that we know so little or nothing about (like the fruit you wrote about the other day). Keep teaching us!
    Nancy (UrMomCooks), glad you enjoyed!

  7. Hey, this looks so hearty. I love sausages and rice and coriander and anything that really works together. And this DOES! You know what you said earlier about insulting real foodies, well to be honest with you who is to say their taste is good anyway. If it works for you and your freinds and fammily, then hey presto you have a GREAT recipe. I am going to make this, but with chorizo as i have some left over! This looks gorgeous! YUMMY! Lovely blog!

  8. I love your dishes, you always put in that little something that makes me think... 'gotta try this one' :) Fusion cooking works for me, I really love, love, love mixing cultures and cooking styles. Thanks for this recipe. Cheers Anna

  9. Joudie, hi there! I am glad you enjoyed the blog. And yes, that was exactly my point, whatever you do with food, all that matters is that it turns out good!
    Anna, from a chef I take that as a real compliment, thank you. You really live in the country of fusion cooking par excellence, with all the amazing food cultures in Australia and sorrounding Australia. Lucky you!

  10. Thanks for the info about farmers markets in Milan. We actually go to Cavriano often. It is a great place for kids because they have animals there as well. But I didn't know about the other one...thanks!


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