by David Tanis
Making chorizo always gives me true satisfaction. The simple combination of red pepper, garlic, and pork produces an authentic Spanish flavor that transports me immediately to the Iberian peninsula. But the process is wonderful, too. It smells so good, you know the end result will be great. I love looking at the sausages as they hang about my kitchen. While they hang and lose weight, the sausages wrinkle and dry, concentrating the flavor.
You can use the sausages for everything. Slice one into small rounds and warm it in a pan until it releases its delicious fat, beautiful color, and distinctly Spanish aroma. Break a few eggs into the pan and stir up some soft-scrambled eggs with chorizo. Or add wedges of boiled potatoes (or cubes of bread) to the sausage in the pan and brown them gently. Delicious! Use chorizo in place of ham or bacon in a bean soup; it goes with every kind of bean you can imagine, from lentils to garbanzos to giant white beans. I like to make a quick sauté of chorizo, sweet peppers, onions, and chicken livers flavored with a little sherry. And a little chorizo added to a dish of steamed clams is sensational too.
My recipe comes from a Gypsy named Anzonini who used to live in Berkeley. He gave it to Kenny, a flamenco guitar player, who gave it to me.
To make the sausages, gather these ingredients:
Cut the chiles lengthwise in half and remove the seeds and stems. Cover with cold water in a saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the chiles are soft. Let cool in the broth, then grind them to a thick puree in a blender, using a little of the cooking water. Reserve the rest of the cooking water.
Grind three-quarters of the pork very coarsely, or hand-chop it. Grind the remaining quarter medium-fine. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the meat, the garlic, peppercorns, paprika, salt, and curing salt, if using. Mix with your hands, making sure that the seasonings are well distributed. Add the chile puree and a cup of the cooled reserved cooking water and mix well. Cover the bowl, refrigerate, and let the flavors ripen overnight.
Rinse the casings well, then stuff them with the sausage mixture. You can use a meat grinder with a sausage horn (some standing mixers have sausage-making attachments), or order equipment from a sausage-making supply company. But it's not difficult to do it the old-fashioned way, using a large funnel, and stuffing the casings by hand.
Make the links about 12 inches long, twisting little spaces between the links to compress the meat and give you a place to hang them from. Hang at cool room temperature for about a week before using. (If you're not using the curing salt, hang them from a rack in the refrigerator.) Lay down newspaper below your hanging sausages; they'll drip for a couple of days.
A batch of chorizo will keep for a month or so in the fridge. Keep them loosely wrapped in parchment or wax paper. They'll continue to dry a bit, but that's fine.
This page created February 2011
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