Belladonna Surprise – a Spicy Chorizo Traybake

The other week I ended up listening to music and talking all things food till dawn with a fellow-foodie friend. He mentioned this recipe, which is a firm family favourite that he turns to time and again.

The observant among you will note this dish includes sweet potatoes, Spanish chorizo, sesame oil, fresh coriander and turmeric. So let’s be clear: Belladonna Surprise has no ambitions to be culturally correct or to fit into any one particular national cuisine.

It may well have been loosely based on a long gone Waitrose recipe card. But this tray-bake  has been further developed, tried and tested over the years to become what it is today. Aided by copious bottles of red from what I gather.

Me being me, I’ve already made a few tweaks of my own. Don’t think my friend will mind, as we’re both of the school of thought that recipes are there to be played around with to make them your own.

I did ask him where the name came from, but did not get a sensible answer. It may have been the hour. Or the wine. But regardless as to why, this rustic dish will now go down in history as “Belladonna Surprise”.

Spicy Chorizo and potato tray bake

Use a kitchen timer and a roasting tin that’s big (and deep) enough to hold the whole lot roughly in a single layer. Otherwise you’ll end up with a stew, which is not what you’re aiming for here. If you haven’t got a tray big enough, use 2 of them and just divide the ingredients between each at each step.

You could just coat everything with a little oil and bung it in a hot oven all at once for 45 minutes or so. But if you like your potatoes properly roasted and the rest not overcooked, it pays to add the various ingredients in 10 minute intervals, so that each get the individual cooking time they need to shine.

You could also chop and prepare everything in advance and then add to the oven in 10 minute intervals, or prep the first lot, and then use each 10 minute interval to prep the next lot.

There is something very soothing about the pattern of the latter: prep, coat, roast, prep, coat roast, repeat. It appeals to my OCD.

Either way, as my good friend rightly points out: “Meat and veg with only two pots and a knife to wash!” What’s not to like.

THE RECIPE

Belladonna Surprise – Spiced Roast Potatoes with Peppers, Chorizo and Tomatoes (serves 4-6 GF DF RSF)

Roast potato,recipe,chorizo,oven,gluten free,dairy free

Chorizo is the star ingredient here, a cured Spanish pork sausage flavoured with dried smoked red peppers (pimentón). There are hundreds of regional varieties, including some with garlic and herbs and la Riojana from Rioja, which has its own Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).

The Portuguese make a similar sausage called chouriço, but that’s much harder to get hold of outside of Portugal.

Chorizo is available either as an air-dried cured version that can be used in cooking or eaten as is, or as a cooking variety that is not dried or cured, is softer and needs to be cooked. The latter releases its oily juices more readily, whereas the dried variety gets crispier. So each have their place in your cooking, depending on what you’re looking for.

Both the dried and the cooking varieties are available mild (“dulce”) or spicy (“picante”), smoked or unsmoked (though even unsmoked has a hint of smokyness due to the pimentón).

For this recipe, you can use any variety you like. I used a mixture of uncooked spicy, uncooked smoked and mild cured, as I wanted to test the different texture and flavour effects.

Just don’t be tempted to use the packets of thinly sliced or ready-chopped chorizo, as they’ll shrivel up and die in this recipe. You need healthy man-sized chunks here.

Ingredients

850 gr baby potatoes (new potatoes if in season), halved or quartered if not quite as baby as you’d like

2-3 sweet potatoes

450-500 gr (GF) chorizo, skin removed if cured, chopped into large chunks or 1 cm rings

3 peppers of various colours

500 gr cherry vine tomatoes

200-250 gr whole baby button mushrooms (optional)

8-12 tiny shallots

4 plump garlic cloves, peeled, half finely chopped or crushed, the other half finely sliced

2-3 red chillies to taste, finely chopped. Seeds in or out to taste.

1 rounded tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp ground star anise (my friend has an actual 20 year old star anise grinder, I grind 1 or 2 whole ones in a pestle and mortar)

3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil, more in between tosses if needed

juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime, more if you like

1-2 tsp sesame oil (optional)

S&P (a little S but lots of P)

A good handful of coriander, finely chopped

A small handful of parsley or mint, finely chopped

Method

Heat the oven and a large lightly oiled baking tray at 200 C

Add the oil, S&P, turmeric, star anise, the crushed garlic and half of the chillies to a large bowl and mix until combined. Add the potatoes and toss to coat.

Spread out onto the hot baking tray and roast in the oven. Set the timer for 10 mins.

Peel the shallots and shake them around in the now spicy oily bowl.

When the timer beeps, turn the potatoes and add the shallots to the baking tray. If you’re using cooking chorizo or like your cured chorizo crispy, add it now. Otherwise add the chorizo at the next step, or add half now, half later.

Back into the oven, timer on for 10 mins.

Deseed the peppers and cut into rough chunks. Peel the sweet potato and cut roughly to the same size as the potatoes. Toss in the oily bowl. Add a little more oil if needed.

When the timer beeps, tip the contents of the bowl into the baking tray and add any chorizo you haven’t added yet. Stir everything through again.

Back into the oven, timer on for 10 mins.

Put the tomatoes and the sliced garlic and the other half of the chilli into the bowl. Add the mushrooms (if using). Toss to coat. Add a little more oil if needed.

When the timer beeps, tip the contents of the bowl into the baking tray and stir through.

Back into the oven, timer on for 10 mins.

Chop the herbs and warm the plates (deep soup or pasta bowls work best)

When the timer beeps, check to ensure the tomatoes have split and are releasing their juices. If not, stir everything through and give it another 5 or 10 minutes.

Drizzle over sesame oil (if using) and lemon/lime juice to taste. Scatter over the fresh herbs before serving.

Potato and chorizo Traybake

A bold red wine and some crusty bread or greenery work well with this. No salad dressing – it’d interfere, according to my knowledgeable friend.

The version in the pics lacks the usual charred edges due to being cooked in a very dodgy oven in a holiday camp chalet (don’t ask). Still tasted absolutely phenomenal though. My guests nearly licked their plates.

Any left overs make a hearty breakfast hash with a few eggs cracked into them.

Spicy Chorizo and potato tray bake

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