Rigatoni with Chorizo and Spicy Chipotle Cream Sauce
1 pound box of Barilla Mezzi Rigatoni or other small pasta shape (like penne or large shells)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, removed from casings (you can also substitute fresh turkey or chicken chorizo for a lighter option)
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika (optional)
Zest of one whole lemon, finely grated
3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely minced + more for garnish
1 cup grated cotija cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring 1 gallon of water to boil in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, season with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt.
While the water boils, place a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes, until translucent, then add the fresh chorizo, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cooking until fully browned (about 5 minutes). Add the red bell pepper, garlic, the chipotle peppers (use 1 or 2 depending on how much spice you like), the paprika, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, the heavy cream, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Remove from heat.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook 1-2 minutes less than package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, and add the cooked pasta to the sauce along with the cilantro and return to the heat for 1-2 minutes, tossing to coat well. Add a little bit of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce if it seems too thick.
Remove from heat, stir in the cotija cheese, and season with black pepper and additional salt to taste. Garnish with additional cilantro just before serving.