Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Homemade Chorizo, Sonoran Style


I'm one of those people who thinks nearly any dish can be improved with the addition of chorizo. Breakfast dishes, soups, stews, tacos, tamales, enchiladas, pasta, salads, arroz-con-anything with chorizo added, refried beans-- even pizza and Top Ramen are better with chorizo. I'm also one of those who think the best chorizo in Mexio is made in Sonora (where Rocky Point is), and the following recipe comes from that state. The picture here is my basic breakfast of scrambled eggs with chorizo and refried beans. Hmmm... Some avocado slices and salsa Mexicana would have been good with that. (You'll see a picture of the freshly made chorizo below.)

Originally a Spanish food, Mexicans evolved it over time to make it uniquely their own. Heavily flavored with garlic and chile, it is commonly made of pork but can also be (and often is) made from just about any kind of meat available. In Mexico it is generally fresh, as opposed to the smoked sausage commonly found in Europe, and needs to be refrigerated and cooked before eating.

Quoting from Wikipedia: "Chorizo can be made from a variety of meat cuts, including lips, lymph nodes, and salivary glands." Well, call me prissy but that bothers me. So I learned to make it myself so I know EXACTLY what's in it, and it turned out to be a very simple process. Follow me below to find out just how easy it is, and you may never want the store-bought kind again!

SONORAN STYLE CHORIZO

Ingredients:
  • 2 Pounds lean ground pork (not TOO lean, though)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 6 ancho chiles
  • 6 guajillo chiles
  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons dry leaf Mexican oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons water

Directions:

TIP: Refrigerate the pork to keep it cool while dealing with the other ingredients. It's easier to work with when it's cold.

Wipe the chiles clean. Remove stems, cut them lengthwise and remove seeds. Place in a bowl, cover with hot water and let soak for at least 30 minutes. When chiles are soft, discard water and place the chiles in a blender. Add the vinegar, water and garlic cloves and puree until smooth; set aside. NOTE that you can use fewer or more dried chiles according to your taste.

Break up the meat in a large bowl. Sprinkle evenly with the rest of the ingredients, EXCEPT for the blended chile sauce, and mix it all up well. Your hands work best for this; think meatloaf ;). Add the blended chile sauce. Mix well again.

Now you can fry up a small patty to test for taste. Adjust seasoning if needed. When you've got it how you like it, let it season for at least a day in your refrigerator to enhance the flavors. Then mix it one more time, and it's ready to use or freeze. It will last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, or you can wrap it in small packages (about 4 oz. is good for two people) and it will freeze well for months.

It can also be stuffed into casings and smoked like any other pork sausage. But I haven't gotten that energetic yet. If you do, let me know how it turns out. ;)

Do YOU have a favorite recipe for a chorizo dish you'd like to share? Put it in the comments for us! And/or if you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to hear from you! email lahuerita2@gmail.com (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)

Buen provecho!