Photo above: Ted Axelrod Photography, of course!
When I was about 7, I always knew school was coming to an end when my mother would start talking about making Chorizo over the summer. Just the thought of it made my heart skip a beat and my mouth water. There was nothing better than taking all my stuff up three flights to our apartment building terrace and camping out in the shade of a make-shift tent with my mom, sister and scores of black crows quietly perched in the branches of an old Tamarind Tree. My primary job was to shoo those black monsters away from that prized pickled meat. It was never an easy task. Just as soon as I would let my guard down, one of them would sneak over and try to peck at the sausage links, helplessly dangling off the rope.
It was always a fun week. Mom, Karen and I huddled under the collapsing cotton blankets to fight off the hot sun. Karen was terrible at her job as she always got lost in a book. My mom always counted on me. As hard as I tried for my mom, I always ended up slacking off on my shooing duties while taking fast and furious naps. This is why we always went up in groups of three. One watched, the other snoozed, while the third might have gone downstairs to get a cup of chai or a quick bathroom break. The combination of a hot blazing Indian sun beating down on a wavering tent and the sweet smell of lemon grass contrasting the pungent spicy chorizos always put me out.
The week always flew by us and sadly we would need to break down the tent. Mom would take the sausages off the rope and gently wrap them in newspaper and parchment for the year. I could hardly wait for the end of the week to taste our batch of chorizo that we worked so hard on and literally sweated over on that hot terrace. Mom would buy an extra batch of pearl onions and make us this dish with a hot bowl of basmati rice or fresh crusty Portuguese bread called “Pao” for dunking in the gravy. Now I enjoy eating this pungent sausage with a runny egg on top for breakfast. Yes, breakfast! What a way to start my day.
I know in my heart that my mother’s delicious recipes will linger on forever through me, and my seven year-old daughter, Sophia. I was on a mission this past year to make a batch of Goa sausages. But with the long Maine winter at hand, I knew I would have to wait it out until the summer. I got tired of waiting and after much research I gave in: I ordered a batch online.
Sophia’s eyes sparkle when we talk about India. Ever since she was a little girl she would ask me what it was like growing up in India. At bed time, instead of story time, Sophia would say, “Mamma, please tell me what your life was like when you were a little girl in India?” Who needed story time when she could hear true stories about her mommy’s life in India? The land of Mowgli as she would refer to it.
Looking back, I was seven and on a culinary adventure and didn’t even know it. Making Goan chorizo was more than just stuffing pickled sausage meat in casing once a year. It was a culinary tradition that connected my mother to her mother and grandmother and now her daughters. Even though my great-grandmother and grandmother were long gone, every summer my mom was able to bring together four generations of family in spirit and memory with the making of one never-ending link of sun-dried pork sausages. This summer I plan on making it five generations. Sophia is excited to make her first batch of Chorizo and take over the “shooing” duty! Instead of crows she’ll have to worry about the seagulls. We are in Maine after all!
- 1½ pounds of Chorizo, taken out of casing and crumbled
- 2½ pounds of pearl onions, peeled and cut in halves
- or 3 extra large onions, first cut into half and then 3 large pieces
- 4 large russet potatoes; cut into 6 pieces each
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ cup of Vegetable oil -- not olive oil
- 1½ cup of hot water
- Heat oil in heavy bottom skillet or Dutch oven
- Fry the chorizo pieces on a medium heat trying not to let the spices burn.
- Add the chopped pearl onions and sauté another 5minutes
- Add the chopped potatoes and sauté another 5minutes
- Add 11/2 cups hot water
- Cover and braise on med-low temperature for 1 hour
- Stir every 10 minutes until the onions are soft, potatoes are creamy and a thick gravy coats the chorizo.
- Rip apart a crusty Baguette and dig in or enjoy over a bowl of steaming hot Basmati Rice.