As culinary students at Ivy Tech Community College in East Chicago proved, there are more ways to cooking chorizo then just combining the sausage in an egg recipe.
During the recent El Popular Ivy Tech Chorizo Contest on Oct. 11, teams of students worked their magic to prepare creative and innovative recipes using the Mexican sausage. Judges, including this writer, rated the recipes on appearance, originality, taste and table display.
Included on the judge's panel were Cheryl Molenda, president of ACF Chefs of Northwest Indiana and members of the Garza family who own El Popular.
"This is my third time being a judge for this contest," said Molenda. I look forward to it. It gives us an opportunity to see how the students are doing."
Students creations were once again excellent examples of their abilities to think outside of the box.
Among recipes were Chorizo Popcorn, Fresh Chorizo Bruschetta on a Crostini, Mini Stuffed Chorizo Peppers, Cremini Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms with Cucumber Avocado Sauce, Chorizo Pasta and Chorizo and Smoked Provolone Quick Bread. Even Chorizo Ice Cream and Chocolate Nutella Chorizo Cookies were displayed.
Emerging as the first place winner of the competition was Pecola Nunn for her Pumpkin Chorizo Cheesecake with Chocolate Gingersnap Crust.
The following is Nunn's recipe.
Pumpkin Chorizo Cheesecake with Chocolate Gingersnap Crust
1 1/2 cups ginger snaps crumbs
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/4 cup El Popular Original Chorizo
1 can 100 percent pure pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saute pan, cook the chorizo and drain grease. Let cool. Combine ginger snaps, sugar, cocoa powder and melted butter in a small bowl. Pour crust mixture into a 9-inch spring form pan. Pat down into pan bringing mixture two-thirds up the pan. Put in oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Take out and set aside to cool. Drop oven temperature down to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and brown sugar with hand mixture until light and fluffy. Mix in pumpkin, vanilla, pumpkin spice and chorizo in medium bowl. Stir pumpkin mixture into cream cheese. Mix in eggs and cornstarch just until combined. Pour filling into cooled crust. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes until it looks set. At the last 30 minutes, crack oven door or turn oven off and let cheesecake sit in oven. Cool and refrigerate for 4 hours before cutting and serving.