So, ya’ll, life was tough for the Mayhew family when we moved to Reno, Nevada. It’s amazing to me that a region of the United States of America could be so lacking in essential food items. There were no ripe tomatoes. Ever. There was no country ham, no grits and no cornmeal. Well, they had cornmeal, but it was ground for tortillas. If you tried to make cornbread with it your teeth would fall out from the impact.
However, as always, there is something to be taken from a culture other than Southern. I will admit that before we moved to Reno I did not imagine there was any place in the world that did not have Tennessee Pride sausage. In the one-pound plastic sleeve, of course. Reno did not offer Tennessee Pride or any other kind of bulk sausage.
But then I met Armando Durazo, who rocked my world and changed my life. Armando was the city editor at the Reno Gazette-Journal when I was the features editor. He came from a proud Mexican family that had not strayed far from their culinary heritage. Thank goodness. One day he told me he was going home to Tuscon and wondered if I wanted him to bring me some homemade tortillas and chorizo. Well, I jumped at the tortillas. The ladies who make them by hand use lard, for God’s sake. But I didn’t know about chorizo.
Is it like Tennessee Pride? I was so provincial then.
No it is not. Mexican chorizo is a beautiful thing unto itself. When Armando returned with my stash, he offered to make us chorizo and eggs. He took the chorizo out of the casing and browned it in a skillet, producing a lovely orange oil as the chorizo cooked. Then he added in some beaten eggs and scrambled them. Then he enfolded the mixture in warm tortillas. Heaven. Chorizo and eggs is still one of my favorite breakfasts.
Nowadays, I almost always have chorizo on hand. Thank goodness Nashville’s culinary footprint has expanded from the Red Lobster and now includes a number of fabulous ethnic options. My chorizo comes from the La Hacienda store, which has been around at least fifteen years and has the best Mexican pastries in Tennessee. How happy am I that I can say that?
Last night, I was hankering for pizza. I am not going to give you a recipe for this. It’s pizza. You can make it however you want. But here’s what I did. Got my easy-peasy Publix pizza dough, divided it in half and made Mark roll it out because he’s better at making really thin discs than I am. Browned a couple links of chorizo after removing the meat from the casing. Reserved the meat and browned one yellow pepper and a half a red onion in the delicious chorizo grease. Sprinkled dough with oregano, added about a half pound of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, topped with chorizo, peppers and onion and baked on a pizza stone at 525 degrees for eight minutes.
This was what I called a refrigerator meal. Everything on the pizza was just hanging out in the Mayhew fridge. If you ordered this pizza in a restaurant it would cost you $18 I guarantee.