Semi Cured Chorizo

Chorizo Ingredients

Proper chorizo is one of my very favourite things in life. Cured and served cold or hot and freshly cooked, its robust paprika flavour and heavenly brick red fat are truly one of the best things you can eat. In fact,  I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to have a go at making my own. I think part of the problem is that chorizo has become ubiquitous. You can get a decent Spanish cured chorizo in a lot of corner shops round my way, particularly at Borough Market or the Portuguese deli in Vauxhall

What are less easy to find are the semi-cured cooking chorizo that impart such a delicious flavour to soups, stews and rice dishes. True, you can get them at Brindisa but they’re very easy and great fun to make at home and are considerably cheaper than bought ones.

Making this recipe also gave me a good excuse for me to show off my shiny new electric mincer. After many months of hand cranking my meat (I try to avoid bad sausage puns but sometimes I just can’t help myself) I was very kindly bought a basic electric mincer as a Christmas gift. The mincer works very well, although I’m still finding my way around it and am yet to master the art of using it for sausage stuffing. On the whole though, the new machine is super quick at mincing and best of all, it’s whisper quiet.*. Great value for saving time and effort.

The recipe follows. It make a very fine sausage but its one that I will inevitably come back to and tweak, fiddle and play with in my quest for a perfect chorizo. I’ll post any updates I do as and when in this post.

Spices

Jon’s Semi-Cured Chorizo
800g pork shoulder
150g pork belly
75g breadcrumbs
22g salt
2g Prague powder #1
10g smoked paprika
10g sweet paprika
7g garlic powder
2g oregano
1g ground chipotle
50ml white wine
Hog casings, about 6 feet

First soak your casings in clean cold water for a couple of hours to remove the salt in which they’re packed.

Cube the pork shoulder and belly into chunks small enough to feed through your mincer. Place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes or so. In the meantime, weigh out all of your spices and mix thoroughly. When you’re ready to mince your pork, assemble your mincer and fit it with a coarse mincing plate. Remove your meat from the freezer and slowly feed it through the mincer until you have a big pile of minced meat in front of you. Transfer it to a large mixing bowl.

Mincing meat with my shiny new mincer

Using your hands or a spoon, slowly fold in your spices and breadcrumbs, adding enough white wine to bind. Make sure everything is thoroughly combined.This is especially important when you’re using Prague powder as you don’t want to end up with all of your sodium nitrite in one place. There’s a lot of discussion on the internet about whether cured food is bad for you but suffice to say, a big build up of sodium nitrite in one go will do you no good at all.

Thoroughly mixed chorizo sausagemeat

At this stage, you can decide whether to stuff your chorizo into skins. Loose, the meat is great with scrambled eggs or thrown into a tomato sauce to give it a smoky depth of flavour. If you decide not to stuff the mixture pack it firmly into a tupperware box with a lid. Cover and refrigerate for about a week, draining off any liquid that leaks out every couple of days.

Otherwise, remove your casings from their soaking water and rinse thoroughly inside and out to remove any excess salt. Slide the skins over your stuffing tube and proceed to stuff your sausages in the usual way. I have to confess that I haven’t quite got the hang of my new elecric mincer/stuffer so my sausage filling wasn’t as even as I’d like. However, practice makes perfect and I daresay, I’ll have properly stuffed bangers before too long…

Wrestling with an unruly sausage stuffer

When you have fed all of your sausagemeat through your mincer, remove the unlinked sausage from your stuffing tube and tie off. Link your sausages in the usual way and place in a rack in the fridge to dry for 7-10 days. By this time the chorizos will have darkened, lost some of their weight and will feel firmer to the touch. They’ll still need cooking before you eat them. They are brilliant fried gently then cooked with rice and peppers or just in a crusty roll with some peppery salad and aioli.

Chorizo cooked with rice, leeks and peppers. Served with green beans and a tomato vinegar sauce.

Next time I make this, I’ll definitely up the chilli quota but then they’ll be a different sausages. These are pretty mild sausages compared to a lot of other chorizos but that does allow the flavour of the paprika and oregano (always use good quality oregano otherwise you won’t taste it at all) to shine through beautifully.

Finished Chorizo

*It seems the evil empire have blocked that video. For those that don’t know its a fine Simpsons infomercial for the Juice Loostener.

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Smoky Mexican-Style Sausages

For my second post I wanted to make a completely different type of sausage to last time and one that you can’t easily find in the shops. I wanted to make something that had a smoky and rounded sweet and sour flavour and a subtle heat. Something between the sausages you can buy from the South American butchers in Brixton market and the Mexican chorizo recipe in Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s excellent book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

I also wanted to play with some new ingredients I hadn’t used before, namely recado de achiote and hickory powder.

Recado de achiote is a deeply savoury spice blend of ground annatto seeds, cumin, allspice, garlic and salt and pepper normally used for marinades and spice rubs. It gives food a spicy earthiness and a deep red colour. It’s not the most common ingredient but the folk at the Cool Chile Co were very helpful in sorting some out for me.

Hickory smoke powder is used to give food a deep smoky flavour for those of us not blessed with our own home smokers. Hickory powder is SUPER concentrated, so I’ve given a specific measurement for this.This equates to about a 1/3tsps worth but its worth picking up some cheap microscales to get things right, particularly if you want to get into curing food as you’ll be working with potentially harmful chemicals and you don’t want to overdo them.  You can pick these up easily enough online or at your local dodgy newsagent or ‘head’ shop. I can’t possibly imagine what other use they could have though….

Weighing smoke powder

Smoky Mexican style sausages -1st attempt.

600g pork shoulder, cubed
120g back fat, cubed
100g breadcrumbs
1&1/2tsp recardo de achiote powder
1tsp ancho chilli powder (I used flaked anchos because I happened to have some in but I would have preferred powder)
1tsp chipotle chilli powder
1tsp smoked paprika
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp dextrose
2&1/2tsp table salt
1/2g hickory smoke powder
125ml white wine vinegar
Water, as needed
Hog casings

Smoke Powder, Dextrose, Garlic Powder, Recado De Achiote, Ancho Flakes, Chipotle Chilli Powder, White Wine Vinegar, Salt, Breadcrumbs

Mexican sausage ingredients

Firstly, prepare your hog casings in the usual way. If you don’t know what the usual way is then have a read of the blog post below. That expains it in more detail. Make sure your pork and fat is properly chilled (I stick mine in the freezer in the bowl I’m going to mince into for 45 minutes before starting, chilling both the meat and the bowl) before feeding it through your mincer. I used the standard 4.5mm plate for this one because I wanted a slightly smoother banger than last time.

Mincing....standard

Next step is to get all your seasonings together and combined with the meat. The combination of white wine vinegar and dextrose is what gives these sausages their sweet and sour flavour. Dextrose powder is basically a refined simple sugar that is absorbed more easily than standard sugar. As a result, it helps the sausages brown more uniformly.

Spices. Recado de achiote and ancho chillis in the foreground.

Take all of your dry ingredients and combine them with the minced meat and breadcrumbs. Slowly add your vinegar whilst mixing your sausage meat. You might need to add some additional water to aid your mixing. When everything is sufficiently combined set aside and leave to chill until you’re ready to use it. You should fry a little bit of it now and check you’re happy with the level of seasoning. I added some more paprika and achiote powder at this point when I made them (and have adjusted the recipe above accordingly).
In the meantime, flush your hog casings and slide them onto your medium stuffing tube then fit the tube onto your mixer. Striking a pose is optional.
Fitting the stuffing tube onto the mincer.

Agent 00-Pork

 Get your sausagemeat out of the fridge and slowly feed it through your stuffer. When it reaches the end of your stuffing tube, pull the skins forward and tie them off. Slowly feed the meat into the skins, ensuring that your sausages are a uniform size. Keep going until you have fed all the sausage meat through the mincer. If you want to push the last of the sausagemeat through then you can push it through the mincer with a bit of bread. When you start to see bread in the tube take the skins off the stuffer and tie off. Now simply twist these into links and leave to rest for 24 hours and there you have it: spicy, smoky Mexican style sausages.
These are great hot but I prefer to grill them and then serve them cold on a tortilla with salad, avocado, cheese and chilli sauce. The lunch of champions!