The food of Spain reflects the country’s complicated history. The incursions of its many settlers from the Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, and Arabs and the Moors have all left their imprint on its cuisine. I must admit that I love traditional Spanish cooking with those intoxicating aromas and delicious flavours. Its uncomplicated food based on basic ingredients.

One of those basic ingredients is Chorizo, the quintessential Spanish sausage. Thought to have originated in Extremadura, originally it was a rather pale looking specimen as it was not until the conquistadors introduced red pepper to the new world that it started to resemble the dark red, Smokey pork sausage flavoured with garlic & paprika that we enjoy today. Other ingredients along with pork and pork fat include salt, and occasionally white wine, sugar or sherry. The latter aid in the fermentation process which gives chorizo its typical, slightly tangy and acidic taste.

To make chorizo, the pork and lard mixture is marinated for one to two days in the seasonings, and the is stuffed into either pig intestine casings or synthetic ones made from collagen or plant cellulose. They are then hung to dry and cure, or in some wetter parts of Spain, lightly smoked before hanging. The final product is usually given one of the following shapes: vela (long, thin and straight), ristra (small and tied together) or sarta (U-shaped).

The best chorizos are labeled “Iberico”. These are made from Iberian blacklegged pigs that are free range and allowed to graze on acorns. The chorizos are then matured for a minimum of 3 months.

Chorizo works well with squid, octopus, scallops and flavours so many of Spain’s classic dishes including a long list of “potajes”(one pot dishes) from the delicious “Fabada Austriana” to the rustic, heart-warming “Cocido Madrileño”. They also work their magic in a large array of Spanish egg and rice dishes as well as potatoes in “Huevos rotos con chorizo” and one of my simple, all-time favourites, “Patatas a la Riojana”.

SPANISH-STYLE POTATO & CHORIZO OMELETTE - (Tortilla de patatas y chorizo)

Ingredients: serves 4

6 whole eggs

4 large potatoes (peeled and finely sliced)

10 thin slices of cured chorizo

1 small Spanish onion (finely chopped)

1 small green pepper (finely chopped)

300ml olive oil

Seasoning

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed non-stick frying pan and fry the potatoes gently for 6-8 minutes until they start to soften. Add the chopped onion and green pepper and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

2. Place a large sieve over a bowl and carefully strain the potatoes and mix with the chorizo slices. Beat the eggs in a clean bowl and add the warm potatoes and chorizo to the beaten eggs. Season to taste.

3. Heat a spoonful of the olive oil in the frying and add the egg mixture, stir with a wooden spoon and cook until golden brown on the bottom. Place a large plate or saucepan lid over the mixture, carefully turn the tortilla over.

4. Return to the frying pan and cook slowly until the tortilla is firm in the middle. Slide the tortilla onto a large plate and serve.

FABADA ASTURIANA

This is my very simple and easy version of this Spanish Classic.

Ingredients: serves 6

1kg white butter beans (fabes)

500ml chicken stock

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3 uncooked chorizos

3 Morcilla (black puddings)

300g streaky bacon, diced

1 onion (finely chopped)

3 garlic cloves (crushed)

1. Place the white beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak overnight.

2. The next morning, drain the beans and cover with the chicken stock and a little cold water. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat to gentle simmer.

3. Remove any scum from the surface and add the streaky bacon, onions and garlic and cook slowly with a lid on for about 35-40 minutes or until the beans are cooked and soft. Add a little more cold water if necessary.

4. Poach the chorizos and black puddings in water for about 10 minutes.Drain and cut into slices then add them to the beans. Season and serve immediately.

SALAD OF SQUID, NEW POTATOES, ROCKET LEAVES, CHORIZO AND PASSION FRUIT OIL

Ingredients: serves 6

3 fresh squid, cleaned and scored

18 new potatoes, boiled

18 thin slices of chorizo "iberico"

2 bunches of rocket leaves

Pulp of 6 passion fruits

150ml orange juice

150ml olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

1. To make the passion fruit oil place the passion fruit pulp and orange juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently and reduce until it just starts to thicken. Pass through a fine sieve and whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste.

2. Heat a grill pan. Cut the cooked potatoes in half lengthways. Toss them in a little olive oil and season. Place the potatoes on the grill and mark for 1- 2 minutes.

3. Grill the squid for 30 seconds on each side then add the chorizo slices to warm through.

4. Place all the warm ingredients in a bowl, add a few tablespoons of passion fruit oil, rocket leaves and mix well. Drizzle with a little passion fruit oil and serve.