When you say “Chorizo” to someone, you hear back a lot of different meanings. Here, in my second home of the USofA most people think of Mexican chorizo, when you throw out the C word. Mexican chorizo is a fresh sausage, heavily spiced that needs to be cooked. Mexican chorizo is usually made with chile peppers. and some simple herbs.
If you mention chorizo to anyone from Europe, they will most likely nod you towards Spain, and often the northern Basque region (and surrounds). Spanish chorizo is almost always dry cured, and more often fermented too (fermentation is the addition of good bacteria, to raise the acidity of the sausage, help prevent spoilage and also develop flavor). Spanish chorizo relies heavily on smoked paprika, not fresh hot chilies. This is really what gives a Spanish chorizo so much character. They can be either smoked, or just simply dry cured.
Chorizo is serious business in Spain. Towns have their own butchers, and most do a fantastic job of charcuterie as well. Recipes get handed down from generation, and most are well guarded secrets; how very European.. One friend of mine who comes from Spain offered to pony up the chorizo recipe of her Spanish town. She was given it by the town butcher, whereby she had to promise to never had the recipe to anyone else in Spain, but apparently anyone in the US can take it…
From my experience with chorizo, the major key to developing a good one is the quality of the smoked paprika that you get. The stuff that has been sitting in the back of your cupboard for 2 years isn’t going to cut it. If you want a really unique and complex dry cured sausage you are going to want to stay away from the mass produced smoked paprika that you find at the grocery store too. Look at some online sources for smoked paprika, from small producers that do a very distinct product.
My goal for this chorizo was to source the key ingredients locally. For pork that isn’t exactly hard. We have some great farms up here in the Pacific Northwest that do a fantastic job of raising tasty, healthy and happy pigs. That is one ingredient down. Now lets talk smoked paprika.
Out on the Olympic Peninsula, in a small town called Ports Townsend lives Charlie. Charlie just happens to have mastered both growing chili peppers and drying and smoking them. He has a small company called “Some Like it Hot“, and sells both online and at a local farmers market. I have honestly never tasted a smoke paprika product with such depth and complexity before. Course, Charlie knows this and charges a reasonable sum for what is a very slow and labor intensive process and product. Thankfully the offer of me giving him of the dry cured chorizo when he was done sweetened the deal for me.
I should also note that Charlie takes Paypal as a source of payment. Why am I mentioning this? Well, because of the advertising on this blog, I was able to purchase enough of this product to make a very interesting chorizo, and then be able to write about it too.. So thank you visitors to my blog, seeing the ads I have running here!
Most Spanish Chorizo recipes also call for garlic, and no small quantity of it either. Traditionally I haven’t used garlic in any of my recipes, mainly because a meat curing friend of mine is allergic to the stuff. I really wanted her to try this chorizo recipe, so I left the garlic out. Being honest, garlic is also a bone of contention for me as well when it comes to salami. Often I find that the garlic flavor overpowers the taste of the pork, and some of the other flavorings going on. When you have a chorizo like this one that uses such a high grade of smoked paprika, it almost seems silly to muddle the flavor with some garlic.
If you want to have a go at making this chorizo at home, here is the recipe. You might also want to look over some of my other charcuterie posts listed below – these will give in-depth information in to the products needed, and the technique of making dry cured sausage at home:
Dry Cured Chorizo Recipe:
(NOTE: work in grams, and by percentages of the meat+fat weight, since you aren’t going to have the same meat weight as me. If you wanted to try this recipe with garlic – mince up 16g of it, and add it in at stage 3)
1700g pork shoulder – final weight trimmed weight – cut in to 1/2″ dice
207g pork back fat, roughly diced (12% of pork shoulder weight)
Salt – 3% (52g)
Cure2 – 0.24% (4.5g)
Dextrose – 0.2% (3.8g)
Sugar – 0.2% (3.8g)
Black Pepper – 0.6% (11.4g)
Piment d Espelette – 1.8% (34g)
Bactoferm TSPX – 1tbsp
1/4 cup distilled water
hogs casings- 12ft of or so.
(for a more in-depth method of the finer points of making cured sausage, see the links above. Hygiene is important. Wash hands often, or wear gloves)
1) dissolve the bactoferm TSPX in the distilled water. leave for 30 minutes.
2) soak the hogs casings in tepid water for at least 30 minutes.
3) Mix the pork, fat, salt, cure2, dextrose, sugar, black pepper and piment together very thoroughly.
4) Grind the meat/fat dice through the coarse plate on your meat grinder.
5) Add in the TSPX solution.
6) Mix this very thoroughly, either by hand or preferably using the paddle attachment of your kitchen mixer.
7) Stuff in to hogs casings. Tie off in to 12″ links.
8 ) Tie these links in to loops.
9) Ferment at 75F for 35hours, 90% humidity.
10) Check the pH of the meat – you want 5.3 or lower.
11) Once desired pH has been reached, air dry at 55F, 80% humidity for 2 weeks, or until the suasages are stiff throughout and have lost at least 35% of their initial weight.
All of the specialist ingredients can be ordered online at the following retailers: