Called pasta seca or sopa seca (dry pasta or dry soup), this is a regular way to eat pasta in Mexico. It is homey and full of flavor. Here, the pasta is quickly fried, then cooked in broth until thoroughly done. The broth thickens and is seasoned by the chorizo.
Use your favorite Mexican chorizo. Good chorizo can be found at the Panamerican Grocery in Columbia Heights (202-545-0290). Or look for Logan's brand fresh, uncooked chorizo in the meat department at large grocery stores or in Latino markets. If you prefer a less spicy sausage, substitute Salvadoran chorizo.
Servings: 2 - 4
- 1 1/2 pounds (6 to 8) ripe Roma tomatoes
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 3 to 4 cups water
- 1/2 medium white onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo (casings removed), coarsely chopped (see headnote)
- 1 tablespoon safflower or corn oil
- 8 ounces dried spaghetti or fettuccine, broken into smaller pieces
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sauce from canned chipotles in adobo, plus up to 1 whole canned chipotle chili for more heat (optional)
- 6 ounces queso fresco, fresh cheese, farmer's cheese or a mild feta cheese, crumbled, for garnish
- Flesh of 1 ripe avocado, cut into slices, for garnish
Combine the tomatoes and garlic in a medium saucepan. Add water just to cover (the tomatoes will float) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes look mushy and the skins have started to come off. Transfer the tomatoes (and skins), 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and the cooked garlic clove to a blender along with the onion, salt and pepper. Remove the center knob of the lid and place a dish towel over the opening (this will allow steam to escape); puree until smooth. Discard the remaining cooking liquid.
Cook the chorizo in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until it has browned and crisped; use a wooden spoon or spatula to break it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked chorizo to a bowl.
Add the oil to the same skillet used to cook the chorizo, still over medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti or fettuccine pieces and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the pasta changes color and starts to brown. Do not let it burn.
Transfer the puree from the blender to the skillet and stir to incorporate. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce thickens; the color may darken, and that's okay. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and the adobo sauce, plus up to a whole chili pepper, if desired, to taste. Mix well, then cook uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often to keep the pasta from sticking, until the pasta is cooked through and the tomato sauce has thickened considerably. Discard the bay leaves.
Add the chorizo and stir to incorporate. Divide among individual plates; serve hot, topped with crumbled cheese and avocado slices.
From Patricia Jinich, cooking teacher and chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington.
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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