Home made, locally sourced dry cured Spanish Chorizo

June 23, 2010

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:

Post on How to Make Salami at Home (same process as making chorizo)

Post on How to Convert a Fridge in to a Meat Curing Chamber

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:

Butcher & Packer

Sausage Maker


Charcuterie – Michael Ruhlman

Art of making Fermented Sausages – Marianski

Cooking by Hand – Paul Bertolli

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  • at the farmers market June 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm


  • Michelle June 24, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Amazing. When does your mail-order shop open? 😉

  • Neel | Learn Food Photography June 24, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Like the second photo. Interesting. Unusual. Great perspective.

  • sarah June 24, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Hi! Beautiful chorizo! I am excited to check out some like it hot! My students just finished a batch of saucisson sec.

  • Tara June 25, 2010 at 1:47 am

    Ah, Port Townsend – the site of my very first cappuccino! (Gah! Almost 20 years ago now!) Fond memories . . .

    That chorizo looks fantastic. I love smoked paprika, but don’t think to use it enough to have any really fresh stuff laying around. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of a great source!

  • Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul June 25, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Wow Matt! You’ve done wonders with your sausage making. It all looks beautiful! I love chorizo..simply fried and served with a squeeze of lemon and some crusty bread.

  • keiko June 25, 2010 at 2:20 am

    This looks amazing Matt – makes me want to fly to Seattle just to try some! Please post some delicious recipes with the special sausage too.

  • Memoria June 25, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Wow! Your chorizo looks perfect. I just bought some for a paella I made yesterday. I never would have thought of making it myself. BTW, I think some people would think of Portuguese choriço too. I would love to hear about that type of meat as well.

  • Scott June 25, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Looks great, Matt. If I ever decide on curing Chorizo, I’ll knock on your door.

  • Andre June 25, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Hi Matt , I ordered all the equipment you suggested for making fermented sausages and it is now coming one piece at the time. I am really excited and commited to make this work. I owe you a world of thanks for what you do and shares with others. I will share my results with you as I am most greatful to you for sharing your experiences good or bad which in turn makes the rookies like us more successful in sausage making. You have removed most of the frustrations from the process. Can’t wait for next week to taste the first pancetta . Have a great 4th of july with some good charcuterie of course.

  • philandlauren June 28, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    We have the bertolli book etc. but no one has yet addressed making dry sausages (i.e. chorizo) in an urban apt. We make fresh sausages all the time, but if you hear anything let us know. I may hit Pino our butcher for advice.

  • mattwright June 28, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Philandlauren – check out my other posts listed in the blog post here for information on how to setup a curing chamber using an old fridge. You can even use a small wine fridge if you lack space!

  • hank June 30, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Nice one! I like the look of yer sausage. Heh. Seriously, beautiful work. You shoulda brought some to the Herbfarm. And tell Becky to get over her phantom “garlic allergy.” I think she does that to make herself special, or at least special-er… 😉

  • travellerev June 30, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Hi Matt,

    A little note from New Zealand here.

    I have just tested my first batch of homemade chorizo and it’s coming out fine.

    I smoke my own paprika powder. It is a great way to get lots of flavour and works out a hell of a lot cheaper plus you can experiment with different kinds of smoke wood (oak, teatree and other woods). I smoke it cold but in an emergency it is also fine to smoke it relatively hot provided you use it straight away. (If you have an extractor fan in your apartment consider buying a small indoor smoke oven, great for smoked fish and chicken too.

    In Europe I have never heard of adding mould spores to the meat to ferment it and I have not added them here either but I make my own sauerkraut and that is a great way to cultivate lacto bacillus in your home.

    It seems that my quest room is an ideal curing room with ideal temperatures and humidity (Got a cheap digital meter from a local internet site. It is winter over here so the conditions are ideal.) and the mould it cultivates on the meat is impressive.

    Anyway thanks for your inspiring site and just to let you know it has found its way to faraway down under. Cheers mate.

  • {kms} July 6, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    i can’t decide which would be better for breakfast…this amazing chorizo or your even more amazing pancakes. i’ll take both, please. just stunning, matt!

  • Sean July 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Matt — I’m the founder/moderator of a new site called Punk Domestics, which is all about the new guard of the old domestic arts. Your chirizo is inspiring and gorgeous. Would you consider submitting a teaser to Punk Domestics so others looking for information on home curing can learn from your wisdom? Just create a profile and then click Contribute (similar to Tastespotting et al). Would love to see your posts on setting up a home curing chamber as well — in fact, I’m personally bookmarking those as I am about to undertake just that in our own basement. Thanks!

  • Marc @ NoRecipes July 12, 2010 at 4:10 am

    That looks amazing. I haven’t been happy with most spanish style Chorizo’s you can get here in the US. Wish I had the room to setup a second fridge as a meat curing chamber. I’d have some of this, some guanciale, some morcilla amongst other things curing…

  • abby August 3, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    boy does that look delicious! I’m on a bit of a chorizo obsession at the moment and would love to give making some a go. Thanks!

  • John Barker September 2, 2010 at 7:02 am


    Fantastic chorizo! I have used your recipe to make a batch, and they are now hanging the cupboard. The fermentation period finished, and they are now drying at 15C 83% RH, have been for two days. I’ve noticed a fine, hairy, white mould starting to form, should I leave, or wipe with vinegar?

  • John Barker September 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Photos here.

  • mattwright September 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Hi John:

    These are looking fantastic! Pretty much all of the flavor in this sausage comes from either good quality pork, or good quality smoked paprika. I think you are going to really enjoy it!

    As for the mold.. that is good stuff! The white powdery stuff is desired. It is what is commonly called “salami mold”. It helps slow down water loss, and more importantly helps prevent bad mold growing on the surface of the salami.

    Since it sounds like you didn’t inoculate your chorizo with this mold, I would just keep an eye on them to make sure nothing nasty grows on there too. This is natural molds that are in the air. We have good and bad stuff floating around everywhere – it is just as easy for bad stuff to get on the salami as good. The good news is that if your temp and humidity settings are right then you have the perfect conditions for the white mold to grow and develop, and a harder environment for the bad stuff to grow.

    Anything green – wipe it with vinegar. Anything blue, the same. Furry looking white? vinegar again. Anything black – bin the salami without a second thought. Been there, done that. Lost a fair bit of product along the way – but never got sick. Works for me!

  • Alison Camon September 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    My Dad used to make Chorizo every year, starting after our Lechon on New Years Day. Our first taste was Easter Sunday Brunch. Yum ! Then we would no get another taste until Thanksgiving. For the next Month we feasted on it. Then it started all over again. Dad passed away in 1978 with his “secret” recipe.

    After much research of Chorizo recipes and seasonings I am going to try it myself this year. I remember Dad using Salt Pork, and MSG. I think he used pork and veal, but I am gonna start with pork only. I think the Salt Pork and MSG were used as a preservative (so to speak). He had it in a big bowl in the basement refridgerator (not in casings) and every few days he would go down and knead it, and perhaps adjust the seasonings.

    I am wondering if anyone else has ever done Chorizo without casing? Dad did case them once or twice but we liked the patties better. Any advice will be appreciated.

  • Linda September 13, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Thanks for a great food blog. I just finished my first batch of salami, and your website was incredibly helpful. And, it turned out great! Thanks for the virtual help and encouragement.

  • jhaysonn September 21, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    just showing support for what you’re doing. keep it up! can’t wait to try some of these!

  • Jocelyn October 19, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    re: bactoferm
    do you have thoughts on using something more…. regional/authentic? I’m just chewing on this idea of using my sauerkraut juice to kickstart the process akin to a homemade bactoferm.

  • Justin December 3, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Your recipe calls for pork shoulder and pork fat. The source of pork I use (Snake River Farms Kurobuta) has a good rind of fat on it, and a reasonable amount of fat throughout. When I make my andouille sausage I often cut off the rind and weigh it out separately, but there is still a fair amount of fat just there in the meat.

    The question is, how closely are you trimming your meat of fat? How important have you found it to be accurate with the fat ratio you are using?

    • mattwright December 5, 2010 at 5:10 am

      Justin – I trim separate it out the best I can. I like a really good distinction between fat and meat. There should be some marbling in the meat, but the large pieces I cut out. It is a time consuming process, but worth it in the end.

  • col rich February 7, 2011 at 10:56 am

    tasted sample of my first batch of chorizo . Bloody hell, they taste gorgeous. I did 4 versions: hot smoked paprika and regular with large white pig and Mangalitza pig so looking forward to back to back tasting next week. Thanks for all your help Matt, and your patience. Followed your instructions to the tee and hey presto! Bonza Chorizo. Now then, salami here we come! Hoorah

  • Rich Mail uk February 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Hello Matt have been making smoked dried Slovak sausage it has more spices in general. salt, paprika,pepper,chilli,and caraway seeds i first coarse mince shoulder and fat at near frozen temp this keeps the fat nice and coarse. Mixing in the spices takes a long time but has to be well done as the salt plays a big part in the preserving of the meat also no fermentation ,i then cold smoke with plum chippings over several days then its hanging in a cool place to dry. I have been a great lover of Spanish chorizo but until now never seen a recipe that made sense to me! I have everything in place and will be making a 4kg batch ,i have maltodextrine do you think this will be ok? Also i have been using tiny amounts of sodium nitrate as a cure
    . Also do you prick your skins after stuffing? Any advise would be great cheers Richard mail england

    • mattwright February 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm

      Rich – the smoking over plum chips sounds awesome! I have never used maltodextrine, so have no idea there, sorry. I use cure2 which is a mix of salt, nitrite and nitrate. I recommend using a pre made cure like that, because weighing out pure nitrate takes some rather accurate scales, and if you get it wrong can be rather disastrous to your health. Yes, always prick the casings after stuffing. Look for any air bubbles under the skin, and prick those out too.

  • Rich Mail uk February 13, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Hi Matt thanks for the advise, i made the sausages last night, keeping them warm at the moment, My drying room has a humidity of 66% this is lower than you mention how will this affect the finished product?

    • mattwright February 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      Hi Rich – Ideally I would like to see your humidity around 75%. Did you stuff them in to hogs casings? If so you might be OK with that humidity.

  • Rich Mail uk February 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Hi Matt yes i used hogs casings i recon there slower to release moisture the weathers cool and damp at the moment so cant see them drying too fast, the smell hits you when you walk in the out building cant wait to try them. was thinking when there dry enough i may vacuum pack them and keep in the fridge or would you just leave em hanging?

  • matt February 15, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Rich – Personally I like to let them hang. I have one chamber setup for just that actually – storage. about 52F, 75% humidity with little air flow. I like the way it lets the flavors mature and change.

  • col rich February 22, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Well Matt, the tasting back to back of Mangalitza pork vs dirty pig has since passed and, what can I say..and as you have already said, get the best pork you can lay your hands on. The Mangalitza chorizo simply melted away in your mouth and lasted forever. Now onto my second batch and salami starts on Thursday. I’ve made some adjustments for Mangalitza drying humidity which is now down to 60% as there’s so very little residual water in the meat that they’re are drying really well and taking only good mould on the skins. The skins on the last batch were still a bit soft which even though they had shrunk properly, I put that down to too much humidity. Now, Lonzino beckons!

  • Rich Mail uk February 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Just an update Matt , Drying well and have just noticed a fine white my-cilium forming i helped this along by hanging a shop bought Chorizo with a good mould in the middle of drying sausages for a couple of days also sprayed very fine mist of water and vinegar over the top half of the sausages to slow drying ,rh is still around 62% temp is 11.5c only a week has pasted how long would you advise before i get to taste?

    • mattwright February 23, 2011 at 5:45 am

      Rich – you want to let the chorizo loose 35% of their weight before you think about tasting them. I personally go by that and firmness. They should feel firm when squeezed, with little give.

  • Rich Mail uk February 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Yes i can see compared to the shop bought sausage i have a way to go, i must say that my sausages are more brown than red any reason to worry ? I used a good smoked paprika imported from Spain.

  • matt February 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Rich – did you use any nitrate?

  • Rich Mail uk February 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Yes matt i used potassium nitrate i have electronic scales , will use cure2 next time i think.

  • Rich Mail uk February 24, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Matt found a few of the sausages that have a sticky feel and pong a bit rich think they may have been a bit close to other sausages,i did this to slow drying down a bit, do you think i should bin them? thanks Matt

    • mattwright February 24, 2011 at 9:53 pm

      “the slime” happens with not enough air exchange around sausage. Try wiping down with warm water. If it smells bad though, just throw them out.