Smile Politely

Subbing for chorizo

One of the more depressing parts about eating locally is realizing that some of your favorite foods have a rather large carbon footprint. My list of offenders includes olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rice noodles, and spicy Spanish chorizo.

To counter this, I try to substitute canola oil whenever possible. And, I have at times, made my own rice noodles and vinegar from U.S.-grown rice flour and local grapes, respectively. However, I have yet to find local chorizo.

Of course, Paul Bertoli’s Fra’ Mani makes dry spicy chorizo in Berkley, California. But for reasons I cannot fathom, no one is making dried chorizo here in the Midwest, where we, I dunno, raise lots of hogs, lots of corn to feed them, and grow some seriously hot peppers to boot.

It isn’t like Spanish-style chorizo involves fermentations at temperatures that send USDA into a tizzy like Swiss Landjäger, which is not to be confused with things mistakenly called Landjäger sold in New Glarus, Wis. Because of the temperatures involved, it is illegal to commercially make true Swiss Landjäger in the U.S. It shouldn’t be legal to call the bread in New Glarus bread either, but that is another story. Spanish-style chorizo is a perfectly legal air-dried sausage.

As I was feeling sorry for myself trudging through the dampness of the Market at the Square with the first escarole of the season thanks to Clay Bank Farm, I spied Andouille sausage on the list at Triple S. Not dry chorizo, but definitely pork with some spice.

Since Andouille is wet, I briefly poached it in a bit of water to firm it up, sliced it, and browned it. Alternatively, you can remove it from the casings and crumble it. Though escarole can be bitter on its own raw, this dish mellows it well. If you get to the market late and the escarole is gone, kale will work fine, too. This is one of those dishes that is even better the next day and it can definitely take the edge off a cool spring night.

Chickpeas, Sausage, and Greens

  • 1 lb chick peas soaked overnight (yes, you can use canned, see variation below)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, sliced or 1 onion, diced
  • 1 t Kosher salt
  • 2 T olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 Andouille sausages, poached and sliced, or use crumbled out of casings
  • 3 to 4 cups chopped escarole or kale
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ to ½ t red pepper flakes (if desired)
  • 1/2 cup white wine

In a heavy six quart pan, bring the chick peas, garlic, onion, and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours. When beans are just tender, heat oil in a large skillet and fry sausage. When sausage is just browned, add greens, and seasonings. Stir in wine and ladle in beans with enough liquid to come up half way. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes covered.

Variation with canned chickpeas: Saute onion, garlic, and sausage together in 2 T olive oil or vegetable oil until sausage is just browned. Add greens as above, along with seasonings and wine. Add 3 cans drained chickpeas and enough chicken stock to come up half way. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes covered.

Related Articles