Recipe: braised Argentine chorizo with creamy polenta

Francis Mallmann, 'master of the Argentine grill', is renowned for his elemental cooking style. Here, he shares two recipes from his new book Mallmann on Fire – naked flame optional...

3 mins

Braised chorizo with carrots, fennel, and creamy polenta

Serves 8 to 12

Fresh chorizo sausage is a staple on the grill in Argentina and Uruguay, and it has recently become more widely available in the United States. Here, it is combined with spicy cured Spanish chorizo and lots of grated carrots and tomatoes to make a hearty stew, served over soft polenta. The carrots slowly cook down into the sauce to lighten it, and the sautéed fennel, incorporated at the end, adds texture.

For the chorizo
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
4 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 pounds fresh Argentine or Mexican-style chorizo, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1⁄2 pounds carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
8 ounces spicy cured Spanish chorizo, casings removed, and diced
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
Two 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
2 cups vegetable stock
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, and cut into julienne strips
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the polenta
8 cups vegetable stock
2 cups coarse polenta
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. To make the chorizo, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a deep heavy pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté for several minutes, until the fat starts to render, then add the onions, stirring to coat them in the fat. When the onions have softened, add the fresh chorizo, stir well, and cook, stirring, until it loses its raw color. Add the carrots, Spanish chorizo, and herbs and stir well. Cover the pot and let the carrots sweat for several minutes to soften them.

2. Uncover the pot and add the wine. Raise the heat, bring to a boil, and let the mixture bubble until the wine reduces by half. Stir in the tomatoes, with their juice, and the stock. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a fork, then lower the heat to a bare simmer, partially cover, and cook for 4 hours. The carrots will melt into the sauce with the tomatoes. Add the fennel. (The recipe can be prepared ahead to this point; reheat before adding the fennel.)

3. About 20 minutes before serving, prepare the polenta: Bring the stock to a boil in a large heavy saucepan. Gradually stir in the polenta and let it bubble over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is thick and creamy but still quite moist. Beat in the olive oil and cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, toss the fennel with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl. Heat a chapa or a large cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat and brush with olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the fennel and sauté gently, turning occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until crisp and golden on all sides. Stir into the stew and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Spoon the polenta into large bowls, top with the chorizo, and serve.

Pressed pears and plums in red wine, with rosemary

Serves 8

Pressing any fruit concentrates its flavor. If you use enough weight, the fruit becomes so dense that when you serve it, you eat the most heavenly pudding. The savoury taste of the rosemary helps to focus the broad sweet fruit flavour. You can vary the amount of sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit.

6 ripe pears
6 large ripe plums
2 cups sugar, or to taste
2 to 3 bottles (750 ml each) light red wine, such as Uruguayan Tannat
A large bunch of rosemary
2 lemons
Ice cream or whipped cream

1. Heat an horno or the oven to 350°F.

2. Arrange the pears, on their sides, and plums in a single layer in a large deep roasting pan. Pour the sugar and 2 bottles of the wine over the fruit, and scatter the rosemary branches on top. Wrap a slightly smaller roasting pan in foil to protect it and place it on top of the sugared fruit. Weight this pan with as many heavy bricks or cast-iron skillets as will fit (and that you are able to lift).

3. Move the whole thing into the oven and bake for about 2 hours, checking the wine level every 30 minutes and adding more wine as it evaporates; check more frequently during the second hour to make sure the fruit does not burn. You want to end up with flattened pears and plums and a syrupy red wine sauce.

4. Transfer the fruit and syrup to a wide shallow serving platter. Grate the zest of the lemons over the fruit, and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Extracted from Mallmann on Fire by Francis Mallmann (Artisan Books).
Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Santiago Soto Monllor

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