Why It Works
- Cooking the chorizo and aromatics in the oil infuses it with their flavors.
- Straining the oil before roasting the Brussels sprouts ensures that the chorizo and aromatics don't burn (they'll be added back at the end).
- Sherry vinegar and honey balance out the spice of the sausage and paprika.
Brussels sprouts and cured pork go together like power saws and safety glasses, or onigiri and miso soup, or open-toed shoes and all-the-time.* They're perfect partners, and humans have been cooking bacon and Brussels sprouts together ever since the first time they cooked bacon and Brussels sprouts together.
*This may apply just to me.
But I do like to mix things up from time to time. Sometimes I wear my fashionable orange safety glasses, or put pickled plums in my onigiri, or swap out my sandals for flip-flops. Similarly, sometimes I trade in the bacon for chorizo.
If you want your Brussels sprouts with chorizo to be the best Brussels sprouts with chorizo they can be, it's important to start with the right chorizo...and not all chorizo is the right chorizo.
The problem is that the word "chorizo" is broad. It can refer to a wide range of products, from crumbly and vinegary, warm-spice-scented Mexican chorizo, to garlicky, fermented Colombian chorizo, to dry-cured, raw Spanish-style chorizo.
For this recipe, the Spanish stuff is what you're after. If the chorizo you're looking at is soft and fresh-feeling, pass it by. If it says "fully cooked" anywhere on the package, definitely skip it. Spanish chorizo will look more like a stick of pepperoni or salami than a fresh sausage. (If you can't find it locally, you can always order it online.)
Once you've got the chorizo in your hands, the rest of the recipe is a cakewalk. I start by chopping the chorizo and sautéing it in some extra-virgin olive oil (which, by the way, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, despite what some naysayers say).
Spanish chorizo is seasoned with smoked paprika and garlic, plus it's fermented, so it packs a powerful punch. The goal is to get that flavor into the olive oil, which we'll in turn use to flavor the sprouts. On the other hand, the chorizo will get tough if it's cooked too long. The trick is to start the chorizo and the oil in a cold pan and gently warm it up, stirring as you do so. Once the sausage is just starting to crisp, add shallots and garlic to the pan and sauté them gently before reinforcing the flavor with a couple extra teaspoons of paprika.
If I were to simply toss this mixture with the Brussels sprouts and throw them in the oven, the aromatics and chorizo would burn by the time the sprouts were nicely charred. Instead, I strain the oil onto the sprouts, reserving the chorizo and other solids while I roast them.
Sprouts are best roasted at very high heat—450°F (230°C)—in order to char the outsides before the insides turn completely mushy. This takes just about 20 minutes or so. Once they're out of the oven, I transfer them to a bowl and add back the chorizo/shallot/garlic mixture, along with a little dash of sherry vinegar (acid is just as important as salt in cooking!) and just a touch of honey. That sweetness balances out the tartness from the vinegar and the spice from the chorizo and paprika.
Please, make sure you've put on the proper safety equipment before you begin eating.
- 8 ounces (225g) Spanish-style dry-cured chorizo, diced (see note)
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 6 ounces; 160g)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced (about 1 ounce; 30g)
- 2 teaspoons (8g) smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 pounds (750g) Brussels sprouts, split in half and trimmed
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) honey
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Combine chorizo and olive oil in a medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until chorizo is crisped in spots, about 5 minutes. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until pale golden brown. Add paprika and continue to cook, stirring, until garlic and shallots are browned. (The shallots may lightly char in spots; this is fine.)
Strain mixture into a large bowl and reserve solids. Add Brussels sprouts to bowl and toss to coat. Season with salt and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, arranging sprouts in a single layer, cut side down.
Transfer to oven and roast until charred and tender, about 20 minutes.
Return to large bowl and add reserved chorizo/garlic mixture. Add sherry vinegar and honey. Toss to combine and serve.
Rimmed baking sheet
It's important to use a raw, cured Spanish-style chorizo, like Palacios. Do not use Mexican (fresh) chorizo or any precooked chorizo for this recipe.