One of my (many) unfinished projects is a recipe booklet featuring Marcial's great sausage printed up for him to hand out free with each purchase. Since Marcial uses no additives in his Sperone products, no MSG, nitrites or nitrates, only his unique package of spices, his sausage lends itself to a multitude of different healthy recipes that accent the rich pork flavors of the meat or lend a subtle Italian flavor to other ingredients. In particular, we suspect that Ticos are somewhat unfamiliar with the many delicious ways to use Italian sausage. For the most part, what you see in Costa Rica by way of sausages are the chunky links of spiced pork or beef, usually called chorizo or salchichon, split open and fried as a side dish alongside a breakfast of Gallo Pinto, the ubiquitous national dish of rice and beans, and fried or scrambled eggs. Papas con Chorizo (potatoes with sausage) or perhaps empanadas, small filled pastry turnovers using chorizo can be found but by and large, Italian sausage is not much used in Costa Rican cooking.
|2nd Place Team Sperone in 2012|
When we first met Marcial a couple of years ago and tasted his scrumptious sausage, I immediately thought it might be helpful to him in marketing his product to give out a little recipe brochure with each kilo of the tasty meat. We happily helped him develop a chili recipe using Italian sausage that won 2nd Place at the 2012 Atenas Chili Cook-off and 5th Place at this year's event, giving Team Sperone satisfying recognition in a world full of beef chilis. But of course, time passes and as regular readers know, Layne and I do manage to keep a full dance card around here, so the notation "recipe booklet for sausages" remains on my "To do" List, still lacking the critical checkmark indicating "completed."
|Seidy, Marcial and Yours Truly in 2013|
With nothing in particular to write about today, and being long over-due for a blog post, I thought I would offer here a dish I recently made which uses the Sperone sausages and chayote, one of many inexpensive local vegetables, a native Central American squash sometimes known as vegetable pear. The chayote has a crisp light texture that picks up flavors readily so it's a great companion to the distinct Italian taste of Sperone sausage. So without further ado, I offer you Chayote and Chorizo Stew! Bon appetit!
Chayote and Chorizo Stew
3 Sperone Spicy Italian Sausage links, casings removed
1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 chili dulce (or red bell pepper), chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lrg. or 2 med. chayote squash, seeded and chopped into ½ in. cubes
1 -2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced (taste for hotness and use as much as you like)
1 - 15-oz. can diced tomatoes or better yet, 2 -3 medium organic tomatoes, diced, including juices (use fresh tomatoes, if possible, to avoid BPA in the white-lined cans of tomatoes)
1 - 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 cup frozen corn or 1 small can of whole kernel corn
½ tsp ground thyme
1 tsp (or more) chili powder
½ tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Place a large saucepan over medium-high heat; cook the sausage in the skillet until browned, breaking it up as you saute; remove from pan and set aside. Add the olive oil. onion, chili dulce, jalapeños and garlic to the skillet; cook and stir until the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan along with the chayote squash; cook and stir until the squash begins to soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, corn, thyme, cumin and chili powder; season with salt and pepper. Cook until it has all become well acquainted, about 30 minutes more.
(Variation: Try using basil and oregano in place of chili powder and cumin. For less spicy dish, use Sperone regular Italian in place of the spicy Italian sausage.)
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
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