The Atlas Cookbook: A food adventure around the world

Charlie Carrington's The Atlas Cookbook explores 20 countries across four regions, with recipes that celebrate each location but embrace seasonal local ingredients. This is easy, vibrant food that inspires us to get creative in the kitchen and reminds us of all that we have in common.

Corn and chorizo salad

Corn and chorizo salad. Picture: Bec Hudson

Corn and chorizo salad. Picture: Bec Hudson

The quality level of sausages can swing from fatty "mystery bags" to artisan offerings made with top-quality meat. Same deal with chorizo, a dark-red mild or spicy sausage made with pork, pork back fat, annatto (a peppery spice also known as achiote) and smoked paprika. The more gourmet you go, the better the quality of the pork, the fresher the spices, and the tastier the sausage. Source quality chorizo from Spanish grocers, markets or delicatessens. Oaxaco - a white, stringy cheese - is actually traditional to Mexico. You can substitute it with another white cheese such as queso fresco (Spanish fresh cheese) or feta.

Ingredients

180g chorizo, minced by hand

400g corn, cut off the cob

1/2 bunch oregano, half chopped, half leaves picked to garnish

20 green beans or runner beans, cut into small pieces

100g spinach

150g Oaxaco or another white cheese, pulled into thin shreds

Method

1. In a large frying pan over a medium heat, cook the chorizo until it is crisp and golden, then set aside. In same pan, over a high heat, sauté the corn until it is slightly burnt. Add the chopped oregano and green beans and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until the beans are just cooked. You want them to still be a bit crunchy.

2. To serve, scoop the corn mixture into a large bowl and let cool, then mix through the chorizo, spinach and string cheese and garnish with the reserved oregano leaves.

Serves 4.

Roasted chicken thighs with spicy herb salad

Roasted chicken thighs with spicy herb salad. Picture: Bec Hudson

Roasted chicken thighs with spicy herb salad. Picture: Bec Hudson

Eat this as a standalone dish when you want something filling and flavourful without the carbs, otherwise the solo-serve lettuce cups also work brilliantly as part of a spread.

Ingredients

8 chicken thighs, skin on

4 spicy red chillies

1 bunch coriander, half of it finely chopped

2 garlic cloves

juice of 1 lime

3 spring onions, 2 of them thinly cut on the diagonal

1 cos lettuce, broken into individual leaves

1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the chicken thighs on a baking tray, skin side up, and sprinkle on a touch of salt. Roast for 10 minutes.

2. In a blender blitz the chillies, the coriander that hasn't been chopped, garlic, lime juice and whole spring onion. Pour half of the spicy sauce on the chicken and roast for another 10 minutes.

3. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it cool slightly, then chop it with a sharp knife. Drizzle over the remaining spicy sauce and place the chicken in the lettuce cups with the remaining herbs scattered on top.

Serves 4.

Grilled tomahawk with burnt onion and chimichurri

Grilled tomahawk with burnt onion and chimichurri. Picture: Bec Hudson

Grilled tomahawk with burnt onion and chimichurri. Picture: Bec Hudson

Go big or go home. Tomahawk steak, sometimes called "cowboy steak", is rib eye with an extra-long bone left on so it resembles (you guessed it!) a tomahawk. It's a prime cut, and a chunk of grass-fed, dry-aged rib eye isn't cheap, so I tend to make this dish for special occasions. (A minute steak would make for a cheaper - and quicker - weeknight alternative.) It's a ridiculously tasty centrepiece, especially with chimichurri and Argentinean red wine!

Ingredients

4 onions

1.4kg tomahawk steak at room temperature

2 tbsp olive oil

best flaked salt to taste

100ml sherry vinegar

50g butter

Chimichurri:

1 bunch coriander, leaves picked

2 garlic cloves

1/4 bunch thyme, leaves picked

1/2 bunch oregano, leaves picked

125ml olive oil

60ml sherry vinegar

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the onions, skin and all, in a roasting tin and bake for 25 minutes.

2. While the onions cook, season the steak by coating your hands in the oil, then massaging it into the steak. From a height, sprinkle the salt very evenly over, then place on a massive pan, plancha or barbecue over a very high heat. Since the steak is so large and often pans don't have consistent heat throughout, it can be a challenge to cook the steak evenly. I nd the best way to do this is to constantly rotate the steak by 90 degrees. After about five or six minutes, ip the steak and repeat on the other side. Remove from the heat and rest it in a nice warm place, either on top of the oven or near the stove.

3. Once the onions are cooked, cut them in half, still keeping the skin on. Use tongs to handle them, as they will be hot. Get a large frying pan very hot and, again using tongs, sear the cut side of the onions until blackened and burnt-smelling. Return the onions to the roasting tin, cut side up, and top each onion with the vinegar and butter. Put them back in the oven at 160C for 20 minutes.

4. For the chimichurri, pulse all the ingredients in a blender. You want a paste-like consistency - you don't want to purée it.

5. Return the pan or barbecue you cooked the steak on to a high heat, then reheat the steak for about two minutes on each side.

6. Place the onion halves on a large serving platter and pour some of the chimichurri where the steak will sit. Slice the steak and then season with more of your best flaked salt. Place it on top of the chimichurri, then drizzle over the remaining chimichurri and serve.

Serves 4.

Roasted pork belly with pea and onion rice

Roasted pork belly with pea and onion rice. Picture: Bec Hudson

Roasted pork belly with pea and onion rice. Picture: Bec Hudson

"Lesser" cuts of meat such as pork belly and lamb shoulder are part of the cool-kids gang at butchers these days, but it can be daunting to be faced with a thick slab of belly fat. Use the following technique of slow-cooking the meat overnight then blasting it at a high temperature for a flawless result and perfect crackling every time.

Ingredients

1kg premium pork belly

400g short-grain rice

40ml grape seed oil

1 white onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp salt

80g peas

40g spinach

40g parsley

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 90C. Put the pork belly on a baking tray and cook it in the oven for 10 hours (or overnight). Let it cool; the skin should be crisp and sound hollow when you knock on it. Raise the heat to 230C. Return the pork to the oven and roast for 30 minutes until the skin crackles.

2. During that last 30 minutes, wash the rice in a strainer until the water runs clear. (This is the most important step!) Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, and sweat the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the paprika and one litre water, add the rice and bring to a rapid boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for exactly 15 minutes with the lid on. Then take it off the heat and leave it to the side, covered, for five minutes.

3. Remove the lid and puff the rice with a wooden spoon - be careful of steam burns! Mix through the salt, peas, spinach and parsley. Turn the rice out on a serving platter, roughly chop the pork belly and scatter it over the rice to serve.

Serves 4.

The Atlas Cookbook, by Charlie Carrington. Hardie Grant, $39.99.

The Atlas Cookbook, by Charlie Carrington. Hardie Grant, $39.99.

The Atlas Cookbook, by Charlie Carrington. Hardie Grant, $39.99.

This story A food adventure around the world first appeared on The Canberra Times.