I have been wanting to make this pizza ever since I wandered the city streets of Argentina. It was an idea inspired by my many encounters with another hand-held food beacon, one that is served from street carts all around South America. The one, the only, Choripan.
My rendezvous with choripan in Argentina were abundant and, more importantly, welcomed. Your basic choripan is the simple combination of french bread, grilled chorizo (pork sausage), and different toppings of your desire. Chimichurri sauce is the most native and renowned topping, of which I could eat by the spoonfuls if I knew no one was watching. I expressed my love for chimichurri when I paired it with fish while living in Buenos Aires working at a wine school. And then I put it in the guacamole. And the rice. And here I am again, finding more ways to incorporate this Green Sauce of the Gods into my life as much as possible.
But first, a few pictures to reflect on choripan in its natural habitat.
So, the pizza. It's summer, so the grill was the go-to cooking mechanism. Within ten minutes, the chimichurri was made and the chorizo grilled and broken into pieces for pizza-topping purposes. That's when you could find me standing over the food processor, eyes closed, taking deep breaths in of the just-made, herbacious, lemon-and-vinegar-and-olive oil bliss that wafted from below. It's like a facial you get at a spa....only one million times better.
The other flavor components we wanted to add to the pizza came from crumbled queso fresco, caramelized shallots and garlic, thinly sliced tomato, and a final sprinkle of fresh parsley and cilantro. Now it was ready for its ultimate creation.
As we sat and ate this pizza, we wondered. We wondered how something so delicious could be so undiscovered. Every bite was...awesome. Satisfying, balanced, packed with flavor. Chori-pizza...why have you not been discovered yet? To the point where your existence is shouted over mountain tops and your name is on every trendy pizza menu worldwide? We wondered. And kept eating, mostly in silence, with eyes glazed over with satisfaction and accomplishment.
We paired our pizza creation with a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Catena Zapata. This bold, spicy, and currant/cassis fruit wine was not only an excellent pair to the flavorful pizza, it was a perfect way to celebrate the exciting news that I will be moving down to Mendoza, Argentina next month to work for the Catena Zapata winery! There was a lot to celebrate, and the meal turned out to be a perfect celebration of the flavors, and future adventures, in Argentina all at once.
Make this pizza, drink this wine, and experience a trip to Argentina. Then, after you're inspired to go to the real place, know there will be friendly face to greet you there when you arrive.
1 ball of pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
1 batch of chimichurri sauce (recipe below)
1/2 pound bulk chorizo sausage
1 medium sized tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Freshly chopped parsley and cilantro (optional)
Freshly chopped parsley and cilantro (optional)
Preheat your grill to medium high heat. Form the chorizo into a patty and grill until cooked through. When cool, break up into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat on the stovetop. Add sliced shallots and garlic to the pan and cook until softened and golden brown, stirring often to avoid burning. Season with salt and set aside.
Assemble all toppings on a tray to be ready to top the pizza and bring to grill-side.
Stretch out your pizza to desired size and thickness. Brush one side with oil and lay that side down first on the hot grill. Put the top down on the grill and let cook for 1-2 minutes depending on strength of heat, monitoring it to make sure its not burning.
Brush the second side of dough with oil and flip. Add toppings to pizza in desired amounts - chimichurri, chorizo, tomatoes, shallot/garlic mixture, queso fresco. If you can do this quickly you can keep the pizza on the grill. If you are slower, take the dough off the grill, top it, and then put back on.
Cook pizza on second side until done, 1-2 more minutes.
Take off grill and sprinkle with fresh parsley and cilantro. Slice and serve.
3 garlic cloves
1 small shallot (or half of 1 large shallot)
1 cup packed parsley leaves
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Pulse garlic cloves and shallot in a food processor until finely chopped. Add parsley, cilantro, oregano, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar. Process to combine and finely chop the herbs.
With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the chimichurri reaches your desired consistency. Season with salt to taste.
Take a moment to smell the magic wafting from your creation below.