Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mexican Chorizo.

Ohh, the things we do to make our kids happy!  Everyone knows that a key to every teenager, especially a boy ,is food.  They eat first, listen later… hopefully.  But at least if their stomachs are full, you stand a chance of being heard… Notice, I did not say they will act on what they hear. 
My son has grown up into a constantly hungry gourmet… I created a monster.  No matter how hungry he is, he will not eat just anything…  I mean he will not eat anything of sub-par quality or prepared in 5 minutes or less.  He will not eat junk food; he will not eat anything out of a box.  He will try any exotic food once, and usually ends up liking it.  His favorite pass time is searching for his new favorite foods, except he can’t find it… nothing has topped Mexican chorizo yet.  Things came close, but were still a hair short of ultimate bliss.  And not any chorizo will do, the best, the tastiest comes from our neighborhood Mexican restaurant “Abby’s”.  They make their own chorizo and it is to die for, just the right texture, perfumed with spices, kicked up with chilies, fatty and deeply savory.  I have to re-created it at home or he will eat me. 
Chorizo means sausage in Spanish… that’s it, it doesn’t mean spicy, it doesn’t mean prepared with certain technique, it just means sausage.  I already knew what makes a Spanish chorizo, which is completely different from its Mexican cousin.  Spanish chorizo is all about the paprika, and Mexican is much more complex.  After scanning the web for an idea of what goes into it I realized that the only common ingredient I saw between hundreds of recipes is an apple cider vinegar and tons of dried chilies of every known kind.  Did you know that there are 30 different kind of chili peppers that grow in Mexico?  You would think they invented this sausage just to use them all.   So I made a recipe of my own, frying up small batches of sausage to taste and adjust the seasoning.  Well, the kids tasted, I salivated (yes, still dieting….).  I think I came pretty darn close to our beloved Abby’s sausage….and I acquired a good supply of chorizo to use in hundreds of ways, respect and thumbs up from my son and a new appreciation for the sausage makers everywhere. It is not easy to make those links.

Mexican Chorizo.

3 lbs of ground pork (Once again, grind your own meat.  Take a nice fatty piece ( remember, sausage is not a diet food, it could be, but why?) like a pork shoulder.  If you feel there is not enough fat in your cut, augment it by adding some of the fat from a nice slab of salt pork, just grind it together.  All the meat should be ground twice on a finest setting of your grinder)
2 Dried Ancho chilies (stems and seeds removed)
4 – 5 dried Arbol chilies (stems and seeds removed)
2 smoked and dried jalapeno peppers (stems and seeds removed)
1.5 tsp of whole coriander seeds freshly toasted
1 tsp of whole cumin seeds freshly toasted
1.5 tsp of freshly ground cinnamon
2 tsp of paprika ( not smoked)
1 tbs of Molido Chili powder
1.5 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tbs of dry Mexican oregano
1 tbs of kosher salt
1 medium onion diced
5-6 garlic cloves diced
1 -2 cups apple cider vinegar

Toast the dry chilies in a dry skillet over a medium heat until softened slightly. 
Set aside in a deep bowl, cover with onions and garlic and pour apple cider vinegar over the peppers, onions and garlic until it comes almost to the top of the mixture.   Cover with a small plate, set something heavy on top (like a large can of something) and let the mixture rest for 30 min to 1 hr.
In the meantime, prepare the dry spicy mix, by grinding coriander, cumin and cinnamon in a spice grinder. 
Combine with all other dry spices.
Pour off about half of the apple cider vinegar from the peppers and onion mixture.  Put the mixture and left over vinegar into a blender, add the dry spice mix and blend until a paste forms.  You can add a little water to the mix if the paste is coming out to thick.
Add the spice paste to the ground pork and mix very well.  Hands work best here. 
 You can now case your sausages or form patties or just leave the sausage meat unformed. 
Keeps in a fridge for a few days but can be frozen in zip top bags for weeks or even months.

Believe me, it will not last this long.  Here are a few ways to serve it.

Sauté some peppers and onions.  Fry up some of your chorizo until crispy.  Combine together top with lots of cheese and set under the broiler until the cheese is melted and is nice and bubbly.  Serve straight from the skillet with a few warm tortillas. 

Or better yet, make a hash.  Skillet fry your chorizo, than add a diced potato.  Fry until everything is crispy.  Add a little diced onion and red pepper and reduce the heat.  Sauté until the onion and the peppers are softened. Top with a sunny side egg Spanish style ( That is fried in extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt and smoked paprika). 
Call this breakfast, lunch or dinner… No hangover required!

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