August 3, 2013

Shrimp and Chorizo Pasta

I just got home from six weeks of math and science at Vanderbilt. I had a lot of fun and learned too much for summer, but I was basically living off of fast food and takeout. That was a nice change from cooking every meal, but I got bored after about a week. I was craving something better than cheap burgers and pizza. As soon as I got home, I wanted homemade comfort food. Something rich and hearty but easy to prepare, since I still had to unpack. I decided on this dish, shrimp and chorizo pasta. The tender shrimp are cooked in a spicy chorizo sauce, and perfectly al dente pasta is a delicious way to enjoy them.

I start by making the chorizo. This dish is so simple that you want to buy the best ingredients you can and let them stand out, so try to get really good quality sausage. I cook it with plenty of onions and garlic and even more spices; if you like it really spicy, add as much cayenne and chili powder as you want. If you want it more mild, steal a bite of the chorizo once it's cooked and season from there. After the mixture is cooked, I add some chicken broth to thin it out and help the shrimp cook better. They become much more tender when you simmer them in liquid rather than pan-fry them. 

While the sauce is cooking, I cook off some pasta. Boxed is fine, but you can always use fresh; I like penne because it catches little bits of chorizo inside. For this recipe, I cook the pasta a few minutes under what I'm supposed to so that they can finish cooking in the broth. The pasta absorbs all the spicy goodness of the chorizo, and adding a splash of the starchy pasta water tightens the sauce and brings it all together. I know chorizo and pasta aren't typically paired, but the combination works wonderfully in this recipe. There are so many flavors and textures, and it is just what I wanted when I came back home. It's hearty and spicy but ready fast enough to make for any occasion.

1 1/2 lbs Medium Shrimp, Peeled & Deveined
1 lb Chorizo
1/4 Cup Diced Sweet Onion
1 Head Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cayenne
3/4 lb Pasta

Heat some oil in a large skillet and add the chorizo, onion, and garlic. Cook until onions are tender and chorizo is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken broth, spices, and shrimp and cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta, draining 3 minutes before recommended time. Save some of the cooking water, then add the pasta to the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes or until tender, adding pasta water as necessary.

Serves 4

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