I think just about every household has a “default sausage”. You know, the one you or your loved one buys from the store every couple of weeks. The one type everyone can agree on. It’s usually some mild Italian-job that’s just innocuous enough to sneak into both omelettes and pasta sauce. I know some people who swear by the little breakfast patties as their go-to… Weirdos.
Our default sausage has always been chorizo, and I don’t really know why. Neither my wife or I were ever spice fiends and it’s sometimes hard to get a really good fresh chorizo in Canada. Regardless, we hunted the bright red, coarsely ground and piercingly spicy/smokey tubes of meat wherever we could and stocked up whenever we hit Victoria or the little artisan markets around Coombs.
Chorizo is a Spanish preparation similar to an Italian sausage but spiked with a liberal amount of paprika. It can be sweet, spicy or smokey depending on the type of paprika used and can be further dried, smoked or fermented to increase both shelf life and intensity of flavour. Here in North America we are most familiar with the Mexican remix which adds chillies and a bit of vinegar.
The Mexican version is the one I immediately started making when I began my sausage odyssey last year based on the recipe from Rhulman and Polcyn’s tremendous book Charcuterie. I’m happy to report that after many batches that fresh chorizo is probably one of the easiest recipes to nail if your a novice like me. It’s a rustic sausage and doesn’t require many of the extra steps or fancy ingredients of it’s French, German and Austrian cousins. Except Ancho powder… You’re going to need to get a truckload of that.
Now that I’m pumping out piles of chorizo at home, our Saturday morning fry-ups are never without those fiery little flecks and rarely does beef factor into any taco night. I often – and please don’t judge me too harshly – will toss chorizo into Italian and Portuguese dishes, heedless of the affront to authenticity. It’s just our default.
Fresh Mexican Chorizo (Makes 25-30 Medium Sized Links)
- 4.5 kg (approx 10lbs) Pork Shoulder cut into medium cubes
- 80g (3 oz) Kosher Salt
- 30g (4 tbls) Ancho Chile Powder
- 20g (2 tbls) Smoked Paprika
- 10g (1 tbls) Cayenne Pepper
- 6g (2 tsp) Black Pepper
- 3g (1 tsp) Ground Cumin
- 40g (2 tbls) Minced Garlic
- 175g (approx 6 oz) Chopped Yellow Onion
- 12g (2 tbls) Chopped Fresh Oregano
- 90ml (3tbls) Ice Cold Beer
- 90ml (3tbls) Ice Cold Red Wine Vinegar
- Hog casings, soaked in water
Method (A stand up mixer with a grinder attachment and a paddle will make your life immensely easier)
- Mix up all the ingredients except the beer and vinegar and refrigerate until ready to grind.
- Grind the mixture through a medium die, collecting the results in a bowl set over ice.
- Pour the beer and vinegar into the mixture and beat the mix with a paddle until it becomes sticky and slightly shiny, approx 1 minute.
- Take a minute to cook off a piece of the mixture and adjust the seasoning.
- Get out your stuffer and feed your mixture into the hog casings nice and slow. Every 4-5 inches gently twist the sausage to create a link. Twist the opposite way for the next link and so on until all your mixture has been stuffed. Prick the casings to keep your newly minted sausages from exploding during cooking.
- These sausages wont last long, maybe four or five days in the fridge so unless you are making tacos for four hundred people in a couple days it’s best to either smoke your extra sausage or bag them and keep them in the freezer for up to four months.
Music To Stuff Sausage To: Chip Wickham – Blue To Red