Sik Sik Wat

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In Ethiopia, the word wat is basically the word for stew. But this is no ordinary stew. Ethiopian wats, no matter what meat is used, whether cooked or raw, are spicy, saucy stews of vibrant color and endless flavors.

Two main seasoning ingredients must be prepared first before following through with a wat. One is Berberé, a rich paprika-based mixture, and niter kebbeh, a fragrant infused clarified butter.

This stew is a classic example of a wat. I hope you get a chance to make it! The recipe is from African Cooking, one of many of a Foods of the World series from Time Life.

Sik Sik Wat
Beef Stewed in Red Pepper Sauce
To serve 6 to 8

2 cups finely chopped onions
1/3 cup niter kibbeh
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger root
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons berberé
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped and puréed through a food mill (I used a teaspoon of tomato paste)
2 teaspoons salt
3 pounds lean boneless beef, preferably chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
Freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy 4- to 5- quart enameled casserole, cook the onions over moderate heat for 5 or 6 minutes, until they are soft and dry. Don’t let them burn. Stir in the niter kebbeh and, when it begins to splutter, add the garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg, stirring well after each addition.

Add the paprika and berberé, and stir over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the wine, water, pureed tomato and salt, and bring the liquid to a boil.

Add the beef cubes and turn them about with a spoon until they are evenly coated with the sauce.

Then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan partially and simmer the beef for about 1 1/2 hours. Sprinkle the wat with a few grindings of pepper and taste for seasoning.

Sik sik wat is traditionally accompanied by injera or yewollo ambasha, but may also be eaten with Arab-style flat bread or hot boiled rice. Below left, injera, below right, yewollo ambasha.

Plain yoghurt may be served with the wat from a separate bowl.

Pork Schnitzel

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A girlfriend of mine often gifts me cookbooks, and the most recent one was Half Baked Harvest. I was excited because I have followed Tieghan Gerard’s award-winning blog for years, but didn’t realize she had published not only this cookbook, in 2017, but also Super Simple, in 2019!

Honestly, I have to admit to being a bit skeptical when I first hear about cookbooks penned by young bloggers. It’s not that I don’t expect them to be talented in the kitchen, but it takes a lot to wow me. When you’ve been cooking regularly and professionally for close to 40 years, you’ve done a lot of cooking!

Plus I think traveling the world is such an important part of learning about food and cooking, and eating. Have these young folk, often moms of littles, traveled much? Out of their states? Out of their countries?

If I see quick and easy in titles, I usually pass on them. I don’t mind long ingredient lists, and even when I was busy cooking for my growing family, time wasn’t an important criteria. Creating nourishing food was, no matter how long it took.

Well, Half Baked Harvest was a wonderful surprise. The recipes are fun, not redundant, and the photos are beautiful while not being over-styled.

The recipe I chose to make is called Red’s Favorite Schnitzel, a dish named after Tieghan’s younger brother, which I think is adorable. Also, because I’ve never made schnitzel before. I ate it in Germany and Austria and never could learn to love it, so it was time to make it in my own kitchen.

Red’s Favorite Schnitzel
Printable recipe below

4 boneless pork chops, about 1/2” thick*
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups panko
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika (I used sweet)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 lemon, sliced
Fresh thyme leaves
Flaky sea salt, for serving

Season the pork with salt and pepper.

In a shallow medium bowl, combine the panko, garlic powder, paprika, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

Working with one chop at a time, press the pork into the panko, using your fist to pound the crumbs into the pork. Repeat with the remaining chops.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add 2 of the pork chops and cook until deep golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the schnitzel to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and repeat the frying process with the remaining 2 chops.

Wipe the skillet clean and add the butter and lemon slices. Sear the lemon until golden on each side, about 1 minute per side. Remove the lemon from the skillet and add to the plate with the schnitzel.

Serve each schnitzel with lemon slices, fresh thyme leaves, and a sprinkle of flaky salt.

Look at how nice and tender these are?

I used thicker pork chops and, obviously, cooked them longer. I was just worried about thin pork chops overcooking. I’m not a “cutlet” gal!

I am definitely impressed with this recipe. My only changes were to include some white pepper and onion powder in the panko mix.

* I also used slightly thicker pork chops – they were more like 3/4” thick.

 

 

Doro Wat

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Doro Wat, which translates to chicken stew, is a traditional Ethiopian dish.

It’s very simple to prepare, only require sautéing and poaching. But it must be made with the spice paste and the spice-infused butter to create the really unique flavors of Ethiopian cuisine.

Doro wat, as with other stews are typically eaten with injera – Ethiopian stretchy bread that looks like a large spongy crepe. It’s made with teff flour, and it’s used to pick up the meat and vegetables, and wipe up the juices. No forks!

Please go to an Ethiopian restaurant for the whole dining experience. You won’t regret it! Here is a photo of injera from one we went to in Brooklyn, New York, called Ghenet.

The recipe for Doro Wat comes from the Time-Life Foods of the World cookbook entitled African Cooking.

When I made this stew, I served it to friends who had never experienced Ethiopian cuisine before, along with yewollo ambasha. They loved it.

Doro Wat

3 pounds boneless chicken thighs, trimmed
1 lemon
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup niter kebbeh
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 1″ piece fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup berberé
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
6 hard boiled eggs

First, cut up the thighs into about 3 or 4 manageable pieces, and place them in a large bowl. Squeeze lemon juice into the bowl, add the salt, and toss the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the niter kibbeh to a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them for about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another few minutes.

Add the fenugreek, cardamom, nutmeg and berberé to the pot and cook the onion mixture for a few minutes, or until the berberé becomes completely combined with the other ingredients.

Then add the white wine and water and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes over low heat.

Pierce the hard boiled eggs with the tines of a fork, and place them in the pot with the chicken. Cover the pot again and cook for another 15 minutes. Ooops I forgot to do that.

Serve the chicken hot with plenty of sauce, and make sure each serving includes a hard boiled egg. Any kind of bread would be good with doro wat, and comes in handy with the spicy sauce.

After you’re done using the berberé, remember to put more oil over the top!

Berberé

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Before one can make any traditional dishes of Ethiopia, it is necessary to make the wonderfully complex spice paste called berberé. It is paprika based, but also contains onion, garlic, and many wonderful spices that add to the complexity of this unique seasoning mixture. These include cayenne, ginger, coriander, cloves, fenugreek, cardamom, and more.

The recipe I use is from the Time-Life series called Foods of the World.

It doesn’t take much time at all to make berberé, and the toasting spices will make your whole house smell wonderful.

Once you have this spice paste, as well as the other unique seasoned butter called niter kebbeh, you will be able to make a number of authentic Ethiopian dishes.

Berberé
Red Pepper and Spice Paste
Makes about 2 cups

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons salt, divided
3 tablespoons dry red wine
2 cups paprika
2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a heavy skillet, toast the ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice over low heat for a minute, stirring constantly.

Then remove the skillet from the heat and let the spices cool for 5-10 minutes.

Combine the toasted spices, onions, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt and the wine in the jar of an electric blender and blend at high speed until the mixture is a smooth paste.

Combine the paprika, cayenne, black pepper and the remaining tablespoon of salt in the saucepan and toast them over low heat for a minute, until they are heated through, stirring the spices constantly.

Stir in the water, 1/4 cup at a time, then add the spice and wine mixture. I used some of the water get get more of the wine mixture from the blender jar.

Stirring vigorously, cook over the lowest possible heat for 10 – 15 minutes.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the Berberé to a jar or crock, and pack it in tightly.

Let the paste cool to room temperature, then dribble enough oil over the top to make a film at least 1/4″ thick.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. If you replenish the film of oil on top each time you use the Berberé, it can safely be kept in the refrigerator for 5-6 months.

Now, you can buy powdered berberé, like I did when I visited Kalustyan’s in New York City, but you can see I’ve never opened it. I’d much rather make the paste from scratch.

Ethiopian Cuisine

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At first glance, you don’t think that the two words should go together, right? But despite the political and natural atrocities that have occurred in Ethiopia, its cuisine is uniquely complex, vibrant, and delicious.

If you’ve ever eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant, you know that you’re typically served meat stew, known as wat, along with vegetables, placed on top of a spongey crêpe-like bread called injera.

You eat with your hands, using the injera to pick up the food. It’s a fabulous experience, and one I highly recommend. This is what injera looks like up close! Plus a photo of a young woman making injera from the cookbook I mention below.

My first time eating Ethiopian food? In my dining room when I was in high school. It was during the period of time when my mother was cooking a different international cuisine every week or so. It would be German, then Chinese, then Russian, then Indian, then Ethiopian! Crazy mama.

I remember really enjoying all the smells and the flavors of the Ethiopian dishes, although some of them were too hot-spicy for me. Sadly, I was a little slow developing my taste for anything hot-spicy, even salsa!

The book my mother cooked out of was – you guessed it – the Time Life Series called Foods of the World – African Cooking.

Although I do own a few Ethiopian cookbooks, this one contains two “seasoning mixtures” that are an integral part of preparing traditional Ethiopian food, so I always refer to it for these recipes.

One mixture is a dark, rich paste called Berberé. I’ve seen it in powdered form at spice shops, but do make it from scratch the first time you start cooking Ethiopian.

The second is niter kebbeh. Delicious onion, garlic, and spices simmered in butter, then strained.

For the next few days I will be posting on these very important spice mixtures. And then we will start baking and cooking Ethiopian cuisine!

Esquites

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Elote is the Mexican name for grilled corn on the cob that is coated in spices and cheese. Esquites is everything from the cob removed and served basically as a corn salad. These salad recipes are also called Mexican street corn salad.

I’ve never gone crazy with the whole elote idea, mostly because it’s messy to eat that way. However, with the corn removed from the cob, other yummy ingredients added, plus a zingy dressing? I’ll eat that with a spoon!

The two recipes I printed a while back and saved, are from two of my favorite blogs – Tricia’s Saving Room for Dessert and Laura’s Hummingbird Thyme. I decided to fuse the two and see what happened!

Mexican Street Corn Salad

Salad:
6 firm corn cobs in their husks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 purple onion, finely chopped
2 small red bell peppers, finely chopped
A dozen or so green onions, thinly sliced
8 ounces feta cheese

Dressing:
1/3 cup good mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon salt

For serving:
Extra crumbled Mexican cheese or feta
Freshly chopped cilantro
Cayenne pepper flakes

Begin by “cooking” the corn cobs in the microwave. Wrap the cobs in a dish towel, and cook on high for 8 minutes. Let them cool in the microwave first for about 5 minutes, then remove them from the microwave.

When the corn cobs have cooled down, remove the husks and silk. With this microwave technique, they come off really easily. Roll the cobs in oil poured onto a flat surface like a jelly roll pan, to get the corn completely coated.

Using your gas stove top, grill the corn, just as you would roast chile peppers, until some of the corn is charred. Continue until all six have been grilled. Set pan aside to let the corn cool further.

Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a blender jar; set aside at room temperature. Refrigerate if not using right away.

Cut the corn off of the cobs, break them into smaller pieces and place The corn in a large serving bowl.

Add the onion, red bell peppers, green onions, and toss together well.

Add the dressing and stir. You might not want to add the whole amount if you’re not into heavy dressings.

To serve, sprinkle the salad with more cheese if desired, and cilantro, and offer cayenne pepper flakes for those who like spicy!

Cotija cheese is a popular crumbly Mexican cheese, but I find it too salty. If you like it, definitely use it, or use feta cheese.

The salad is mostly about the corn, but you could always include an avocado and/or tomatoes in the salad. And, you could also add white or black beans.

The basic salad ingredients can be tossed together ahead of time, but only add the onions right before serving.

If you want more smokiness, use a smoky paprika, and up the chipotle powder a bit.

note: If you want the corn to look more yellow, skip the grilling part.

Kefta Meatball Tagine

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The whole name of this recipe is Kefta Meatball Tagine in Tomato Sauce with Eggs. It’s from the cookbook Morocco, written by Jeff Koehler, published in 2012. I think I bought the cookbook because of the stunning photo on the cover, which is a beet and potato soup.

The subtitle describes this book as “a culinary journey with recipes from the spice-scented markets of Marrakech to the date-filled oasis of Zamora.”

From the book, “Tagine is the name of the dish as well as the round, shallow-based terra-cotta (clay or ceramic) casserole with a tall, pointed, conical lid. The lid fits into the base’s grooved rim and acts as a closed chimney. The steam rises and condenses on the wall of the lid, and the moisture falls back onto the simmering food, preventing the loss of moisture or flavor. Tagines are perfect for slow cooking, whether over an ember-filled brazier or the low to medium heat on a stove.”

There is some prepping to do if you’ve just purchased a tagine, similar to seasoning a cast-iron skillet. But care must be taken always to not overheat the tagine or it will crack. Medium direct heat is the maximum suggested for using a tagine on the stove.

Also from the book, “To season a tagine, submerge the base and lid in water for at least 2 hours (overnight if not glazed). Remove and let dry completely. Brush the inside of the base and lid with olive oil. For an unglazed tagine, paint the entire vessel with oil. Place in a cold oven and turn on to 350 degrees. Bake for 2 hours. Turn off the heat and allow the tagine to slowly, and completely, cool. Season the tagine again if it goes unused for a number of months.”

Which is probably what happened to my first tagine. I hadn’t used it for a while, and didn’t realize I should re-season it, so the bottom cracked.

I recently decided to purchase one again. Because I love the look of La Chamba cookware, I purchased a La Chamba tagine. Seasoning directions were included.

This recipe is reminiscent of shakshuka, with the eggs cooked in red sauce, but then, with meatballs?!! I just had to make it.

Kefta Meatball Tagine in Tomato Sauce with Eggs
printable recipe below

1 1/4 pound ground beef, not learn
1/2 medium red onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
Heaped 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heaped 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups canned peeled whole Italian plum tomatoes, seeded, with juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs

In a mixing bowl, add the meat, onion, one of the garlic cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon each of the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, parsley, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and blend into a consistent, smooth paste.

Taking spoonfuls of the mix, roll meatballs that are about 1 1/4” in diameter. There should be about 36 total.

In a food processor, using quick pulses, purée the tomatoes and their juice. (I used tomato sauce I’d made from my fresh tomatoes.)

In a tagine, add the olive oil and tomatoes, season with salt, and cook over medium-low heat until deep red and thicker, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining garlic, spices, and herbs.

Gently set the meatballs in the tomato sauce. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, gently turning the meatballs with a pair of spoons until browned on all sides.

Dribble in 1/4 cup of water, loosely cover, and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. The tomato sauce should be a little loose. Add a bit more water if necessary to keep the sauce loose.

Make four spaces between the meatballs and gently crack the eggs into the tagine. Cover and cook until the eggs set, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately.

I served with a little bit more chopped parsley and cilantro, as well as a flatbread on the side.

I didn’t make my own flatbread, I purchased pita bread.

Wow this is so good, just as expected. The spices make this dish, as do the herbs.

Of course, you don’t need a tagine to make this dish, so don’t worry if you don’t own one. Use a braiser or deep skillet.

 

Cowboy Butter

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If you’ve never checked out Delish.com, it’s worth a peek. It’s a food website with recipes, but with interesting, I guess supposedly catchy headlines, like “86 Most Delish Baked Chicken Dinners,” and “135 Most Delish Holiday Desserts.”

Personally I wouldn’t be tempted to look through 86 chicken recipes, or 135 desserts, but somebody must! The website seems popular, and there is a tab for Delish Kids as well, which is smart. Although, “21 Ways to Get Kids Involved in Making Breakfast?” Just put them in the kitchen!

Nevertheless, I came across, in some random way, a recipe for Cowboy Butter from the Delish.com website.

According to the website, the idea of “Cowboy Butter” came from a little restaurant in New York City called Mr. Donahue’s.

My world changed after I dunked a piece of prime rib into the herb-speckled butter, and the wheels really started turning once I realized everything on my plate — crispy potatoes, Parker house roll, and even mac and cheese — tasted good with it.

Well it certainly appealed to me as well, and I knew the next time I grilled steaks, I’d have to make this magic butter.

Cowboy Butter
Printable recipe below

1 cup butter, melted
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
2 teaspoons minced thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic, shallot, mustard, horseradish, cayenne and paprika. Whisk to combine.

Stir in the parsley, chives and thyme.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warmed.

Whoever came up with this stuff was right. I started not only dipping the steak into the butter, but also the green beans.

Good stuff. That’s all I can say.

I can see it drizzled over grilled meats of any kind, plus seafood like shrimp, crab, and scallops.

Or, over grilled vegetables or baked potatoes. The possibilities are endless.

Make some – you’ll love it!

 

Spiced Beef Salad

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Recently I was perusing my Casa Moro cookbook, written by Sam and Samuel Clark, bookmarking recipes for future use. This one photograph just jumped out at me.


It was a photo of Spiced Beef Salad with Fenugreek and Hummus. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen a salad recipe that wasn’t based on grains, vegetables, greens, legumes or even bread.

It’s basically grilled spiced beef served over hummus.

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I knew it was something I’d make for a casual lunch, served with flatbread.

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And it was wonderful.

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Spiced Beef Salad with Fenugreek and Hummus

1 400 g sirloin steak, approximately 2.5 cm thick
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
3/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon Turkish chili flakes
1 quantity hummus
1 large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
8-12 pickled chilies, optional
Flatbread

Season the piece of beef with salt and pepper. I used flank steak and put it in the sous vide for 48 hours at 135 degrees Fahrenheit

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together and grind.

Add 1 teaspoon salt and a little black pepper to the marinade, which I would refer to as a dry rub.

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After removing the beef from the bag and patting it dry with paper towels, cover the beef with the dry rub.

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Leave to marinate for a good hour or two.

Set a griddle pan over high heat, with a little oil, until it begins to smoke. Grill the beef to medium-rare. Because I had sous vided’d the flank steak, I only needed to brown the meat on both sides; this was accomplished within one minute.

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Set on a cutting board to rest.

To assemble, spread the hummus on a plate or pasta bowl. Slice the steak, and place the slices over the hummus.

Then scatter the parsley leaves all over. (I had to use curly parsley – my local store didn’t have Italian.)

Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of nigella seeds.

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I used a spicy hot olive oil instead, just for some heat, and omitted the pickled chile peppers.

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Serve with warmed flatbread.

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I decided to also add some goat cheese and fresh cherry tomatoes.

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This salad was a feast! And one I will definitely make again.

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Chorizo and Scallop Skewers

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My mother gave me the cookbook Charcuterie for my birthday. She knows me so well!
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The book is mostly recipes, but also contains a chapter on making charcuterie from scratch. I’m in awe of people who make prosciutto and pancetta, but I live in too humid of a region in the U.S. to hang hams in my basement.

The recipes are wonderful, mostly focusing on Spanish, French, and Italian cured meats. The first recipe that caught my attention was a simple skewer of scallops and chorizo. Simple yet total perfection!

If you can’t get your hands on Spanish chorizo, check out my favorite website, La Tienda, for chorizo and all other Spanish foods. If you scroll through chorizo, and you will discover so many different varieties – some for slicing, some for cooking, some for grilling.

The recipe in the book just referred to cubes of chorizo, but I got carried away and purchased Ibérico de Bellota Butifarra Sausage because it intrigued me.

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It is sausage made from Iberian pigs, which are supposedly fed acorns as babies. This raw sausage wasn’t quite firm enough to cube, and not red like authentic chorizo, but it was really good!

When we were in Spain many years, my husband and I would order both jamon Serrano and Ibérico (similar to Prosciutto) and we could not tell the difference. Maybe they just knew we were Americans and didn’t bother giving us the real stuff, I don’t know! But we gave up after a few tries, and stuck to the fabulous but much less expensive Serrano.

In any case, in spite of not having used real chorizo, these scallop and sausage skewers were wonderful. I will paraphrase the recipe from Charcuterie because it’s so simple.

Chorizo and Scallop Skewers

12 – 1″ cubes chorizo or firm spicy sausage
12 scallops, approximately the same size
Olive oil
Ground paprika
Coarsely ground pepper

Heat a small amount of oil in a cast-iron or other heavy skillet. Brown the cubes or slices of sausage on all sides, then lower the heat and cook thoroughly. Place them on paper towels to drain.

Using the same fat from the olive oil and sausage, sear the scallops in the hot oil, then lower the heat to cook through. Place the scallops on paper towels to drain.

Let the chorizo and scallops cool, then skewer them together, with the scallop first, followed by the chorizo.

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Sprinkle on a generous amount of paprika and ground pepper.

I used a mixed peppercorn combination.

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These hors d’oeuvres are best served warm. They could be prepared ahead of time if they were gently re-heated so as not to overcook the scallops and dry out the chorizo or sausage.

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I will definitely be making these again with real chorizo, but I can really see the scallop pairing with just about any kind of sausage!

note: For a handy comparison chart on Spanish vs. Mexican chorizo, check out this website.