Thursday, August 28, 2008
Substituting and adapting
I do this thing -- well, I used to do it more often, when I had a bigger grocery budget and reason to be near a big-city grocery store -- where I see an ingredient that I consider hard to come by in rural parts. Rose water, for example. I used to snap up the hard-to-find ingredient -- one time it was haluski noodles -- and bring it home only to find that I had misplaced the recipe I'd been saving to try if I ever found the elusive ingredient. The ingredient would spoil or go stale and I'd toss it, never having found the recipe I wanted to try. That's why I never bought the rose water when the nearest Kroger opened its ethnic section a few years ago. I was tempted, but I knew that recipe would be nowhere to be found at home. But that fear and reasoning didn't stop me from snapping up a package of chorizo, a Spanish link sausage, at a fancy Giant Eagle a few months back. And it stayed in my freezer until I found a good recipe to try.
But to try that recipe required some substitutions. When you live rurally and frugally like I have to you don't always have the luxury of buying the exact ingredient a recipe needs. You should not let that stop you from trying new things anyway.
In this case, fresh jumbo shrimp were replaced with smaller frozen shrimp (just use more of them.)
Portuguese rolls became King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. At first, I could find only the dinner roll size. I made 12 small burgers, put 12 chunks of chorizo on them and put 1 or 2 shrimp on each sandwich. I think these would be a hit as a heavy hors d'oeurve at cocktail parties. For everyday dinners -- not that we eat this much meat or this richly every day -- now I'm able to get the sandwich bun size in our local Wal-marts.
However, I can no longer afford to go to a big store and buy real chorizo. So I looked up a substitute and found some things with which to doctor regular bulk pork sausage. The recipe follows. Again, I had to substitute to even make the mock chorizo. I couldn't find spicy bulk pork sausage so I bought plain and used chipotle chili pepper to amp up the heat.
I also am running low on things and can't replace them right away. For example, I'm out of sweet paprika. So in the chicken burger recipe I used 1 teaspoons of hot paprika and omitted the hot sauce. It seemed to work OK. I might've been able to go measure-for-measure without too much spice but I didn't risk it. My next experiment will be to chop the shrimp and mix the chorizo into the chicken burger mix and grill the whole thing at once, possibly making six to eight more manageable burgers than the colossal ones that result from stacking the shrimp on the sausage on the burger. I can't finish a whole one.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the recipe for the paella burgers and two more for fries to accompany them. One is my own concoction to dress sweet potato fries. Rachael Ray mixes a pimiento mayonnaise for the burger and her fries. I'm the only one who eats mayo in my family so I don't go to the trouble.
From "365: No Repeats" by Rachael Ray
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
2 or 3 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
3-4 garlic cloves
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons hot sauce
zest of 1 lemon
2 1/2 tablespoons grill seasoning, such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound chorizo, casings removed, cut into 4 3-inch pieces and butterflied if you're making full-size burgers OR 12 2-inch pieces if you're making hors d'oeuvres. OR I prefer to smoosh the meat together and make thin little patties to sit atop the chicken burgers.
4 (or 12) jumbo shrimp (8 count per pound), peeled, deveined and butterflied
4 Portuguese rolls (slightly sweet rectangular crusty rolls), if you can find them
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
Preheat a large griddle or nonstick skillet over medium-high to high heat.
Place the chicken in a bowl. Finely chop the parsley. Add it and the garlic to the chicken. Add the onions, paprika and hot sauce, the lemon zest and the grill seasoning. Pour a healthy drizzle of EVOO around the outside of the bowl. Combine the mixture and form 4 or 12 patties. Place the patties on the griddle and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until done through. When you remove it from the pan, keep it warm on a plate tented with foil on the back of the stove.
Place the chorizo on the griddle, weighting it (if it's butterflied links) to keep it from curling by placing a heavy small skillet on top.. Cook for just 2 to 3 minutes on each side. The chorizo is already fully cooked; you're just crisping the edges and heating it through (if you make your own you have to fully cook it.) Transfer it to the platter with the burgers and keep warm.
Squeeze lemon juice over the shrimp, season them with coarse salt, drizzle with EVOO. Grill the shrimp about 2 minutes on each side. Keep them warm with the meats. You can do the shrimp and chorizo alongside the burgers if your griddle is big enough (mine isn't.)
Drizzle the cut sides of the rolls with EVOO and place cut side down on the griddle. I usually just toast mine on the bagel setting before I add oil because the griddle has lots of grease from the meat.
Mound some chopped lettuce on the roll bottoms, then top with chorizo, chicken patties and shrimp. Slather the bun top with mayo if you prefer and set in place. Serve with fries.
My Lightly Spiced Sweet Potato Fries
Prepare a sack of McCain Sweet Potato Fries according to package directions in the oven. When they come out, sprinkle with brown sugar, coarse salt, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chili powder. Add or omit spices and seasonings to your own liking.
Rae-Ray's Spanish Fries
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1 sack extra-crispy-style frozen fries
a handful of parsley leaves
Prepare the fries according to package directions.
Melt the butter together with the chopped garlic over low heat until the garlic sizzles in the butter. Toss the butter with the fries. Add chopped parsley and season with salt and toss again. Rae-Ray, who you remember has a staff to clean up after her, does this in a separate bowl. I just put the fries in the pan with the butter and toss it there.
1/2 pound spicy bulk pork sausage
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Combine pork sausage, cider vinegar, cilantro, chili powder, garlic and cumin. Mix well, but do not over-handle.
Form sausage into patties and fry about 4 minutes on each side.