Stew-ie Wonder

I present to you this picture and recipe due to the pressing demands of my impatient (but loved!) friends after I posted this picture up on my Facebook album.

Spicy Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

Spicy Chickpea + Chorizo Stew

The temperature in Melbourne has been steadily dropping and I say this in a gleeful tone because winter is my absolute favourite season of all. Maybe I should be specific and say Melbourne winter because I don’t think I’d be a fan of slushy snow and negative zero temperatures but as a person who grew up close to the equator and experiences humidity and summer weather year-round; winter is sublime. I love the cold and there’s something deeply satisfying about how chic everyone looks in winter gear. Boots, coats, scarves, leather gloves, beanies, pink cheeks… Magnifique!

Naturally, with the temperature change, the cravings for hearty meals have hit me full force. I’ve spent too many moments daydreaming of soups, stews and steamboat dinners! The moment I saw a picture of this dish, I knew I had to make it. It sounded so hearty and naughty, and it’s about two-thirds pork (my favourite kind of meat!).

I’ve augmented the recipe to accommodate my love for spicy food, and dare I say it probably elevated the dish a little. What can I say? You can take the girl out of Malaysia, but you can’t take Malaysia out of the girl. Gotta have my chilli kick.

Spicy Chickpea & Chorizo Stew
Adapted from Delicious magazine March 2008
Serves 3-4

1 Tbsp olive oil
250 g spicy pancetta, cut into cubes
2 chorizo sausages, sliced at an angle
1 red capsicum, diced
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 large potato, peeled, cut into cubes, cooked for 2-3 minutes
400 g can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained
700 ml tomato passata (basically a jar, whatever size your jar is, mine was 700 ml)
1 cup chicken stock
2-3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried chilli flakes (or less, if you can’t handle the heat)
Chopped flat leaf-parsley, to garnish
Bread, to serve, preferably crusty

1. Heat oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat. Cook pancetta and chorizo for 2-3 minutes until starting to crisp. Remove from pain and drain on paper towel. Drain oil and fat, but reserve 2 Tbsp in the pan.

2. Return the pan to medium flame. Add onion and capsicum, cook for 5 minutes or until softened.

3. Return the pancetta and chorizo to the pan with the garlic and oregano. Stir for another minute, then add the potatoes, chickpeas, passata, bay leaves, stock and dried chilli flakes.

4. Season, then bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened, approximately 10 minutes.

5. Garnish with parsley and serve with bread.

The recipe is actually fairly quick to whip up. The original didn’t call for spicy pancetta (just plain) or chilli flakes, and it had white wine included but I didn’t have any on hand so I accommodated with more passata and chicken stock. If you’d prefer the wine, then halve the chicken stock amount and fill it up with white wine. If you’re wondering what tomato passata is, it’s like tomato puree but… I don’t know, different. I found it in a deli but no sign of it in the supermarkets I frequent so head down to a deli to find yourself a jar. There are heaps of these gems in Melbourne so go explore a little. I love wandering around delis, it’s basically food window shopping!

I also recently celebrated my birthday. It was a quiet birthday with little fanfare, although my Facebook wall hadn’t been that active in… oh, about a year. After a certain age, it gets tiring trying to organize something with people outside my family and being so far removed from any family, I decided to let the day come and go as silently as possible. Perhaps I’m a little jaded from one too many exhausting attempts to gather my dearest friends in the one place whilst fending off requests for date and time change, and the permission to have a Plus One (usually people I have not met, too!), on top of everyone’s inability to RSVP in a timely manner. Besides, after celebrating the grand 21, people tend to ignore the significance of birthdays. After all, it’s a downhill slide to arthritis and dentures from there.

Regardless, I was still spoiled by my one of my best friends (and housemate), who cooked me a delicious meal and even got me cake with a singing candle!

Birthday spoils

Birthday spoils

I’ve been on a strict and greatly reduced budget for my final year in Melbourne. Maybe it’s maturity, maybe it’s guilt or a combination of both for taking forever and a century to obtain my bachelor’s degree, but I’ve told myself no more extravagant and unnecessary purchases. Trust me when I say that my self-gifted birthday presents have been much more obscene in previous years but this year I permitted myself ONE cookbook.

I was tossing up between A Day at elBulli and The French Laundry Cookbook, both of which I’ve seen in bookstores, and have spent some time caressing and absorbing with great delight but I ended up choosing the Alinea cookbook. Why? Mostly because I have yet to see it in a bookstore in Melbourne and also because I found it for a reasonable price online here. Other reasons are: I’ve been fascinated with Grant Achatz since I heard of him, and I know Alex Stupak provided the dessert recipes in the book, and I’ve been fascinated with his Pliable Chocolate Ganache since I saw Bryan Voltaggio’s version of it on Top Chef season 6.

The gigantic encyclopedia that is the Larousse Gastronomique is a gift from the wonderful Jacey, although she later dropped it on her foot and if her yelp and the look upon her face is anything to go by, it hurt like a bitch. Coincidentally, it was a book that I had put on my wishlist on Amazon a few months back and had pored over in Borders rather recently but had cast aside as beyond-my-means so thank you very, very much, Jacey, for this extravagant and highly treasured present!

As for the I ♥ Macarons book, it was a lucky find in a bookstore and for such a good price, I couldn’t resist! It’s just adorable and any book that features a bazillion pictures of macarons is my kind of book.

I must say, even if some of it was self-gifted, I’ve never enjoyed my birthday presents this much in a long time!


2 Comments on “Stew-ie Wonder”

  1. Donna says:

    Thanks for posting the recipe! Will def add it to my winter “to try” list :D

    D :)