Oaxaca Chorizo (Chorizo Oaxaqueno)
(Recipe: The Food and Life of Oaxaca, Macmillan 1997)
I have made this wonderful sausage in the form of links, and also as a bulk mixture to be frozen in small portions in plastic bags.
If you choose the first option, buy hog casings (available most of the time from many ethnic butchers or by special order from other butchers) and prepare them by letting cold water run through them to rinse off as much as possible of the salt in which they are usually packed, then soaking in a large bowl of cold water for half an hour. For this amount of the chorizo mixture you will need 5 feet of 1/2-inch-diameter hog casings. Check them for leaks while rinsing them.
Do not buy packaged pre-ground pork, which will be too fine. If you have a meat grinder, buy about 1 1/2 pounds of fairly lean pork meat (shoulder, rib end of loin) and grind it with the coarse disk; otherwise ask the butcher to give you 2 pounds of pork in a 3:1 ratio of lean to fat, coarsely ground for sausage.
The uses of chorizo are limitless. It can go into fillings like the one for Molotes or soups like Cocina de Coles . It is wonderful with fried potatoes or scrambled eggs. Having a few links or portions in the freezer is like money in the bank.
10 ancho chiles, tops and seeds removed, or 3 ounces powdered ancho chile
1 Oaxacan pasilla chile , tops and seeds removed, or 1 canned chipotle chile en adobo
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
One 1-inch piece canela (soft-stick cinnamon)
1 teaspoon dried Oaxacan oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, crumbled
3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 pounds coarsely ground pork (3 parts lean to 1 part fat)
5 feet of 1/2-inch diameter pork casings (optional)
If using whole ancho and Oaxacan pasilla chiles, rinse the chiles under cold running water and shake off the excess moisture, but do not dry them. Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. A few at a time, place the chiles on the griddle and let them heat, turning occasionally with tongs, just until any clinging moisture is evaporated and the aroma is released. Allow between 30 to 45 seconds in all. The chiles should just become dry, hot, and fragrant; do not allow them to start really roasting or they will have a terrible scorched flavor. Remove from the griddle as they are done. Place in a deep bowl as they are done; cover generously with boiling water and let soak for 20 minutes. If using ancho chile powder, combine it in a bowl with 1 cup water and mix to a paste.
Working in batches if necessary, grind the cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, and canela together with the oregano, thyme, and marjoram in a electric coffee or spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
Drain the soaked chiles. Place them (or the chile powder mixture) in a blender with the ground spice mixture, garlic, salt, vinegar, wine, and the canned chipotle chile (if using). Process until thoroughly puréed (about 3 minutes) on high.
Place the ground meat in a large non-reactive bowl. Add the chile mixture and mix thoroughly with your hands. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days, to let the flavors mingle and develop.
If using sausage casings, prepare them as described above. If you have a grinder with a sausage-stuffing attachment, follow the manufacturer’s directions for attaching and filling the casings. You can also fill the casings with the aid of a helper: One person firmly pushes a few inches of casing over the spout of a large funnel and holds it in place (a rubber band may help) while the other uses a long wooden spoon to stuff the mixture into the casing. In either case, use kitchen twine to tie off the filled casing into short round links the size of Ping-Pong balls. Hang up the sausages to air-dry for about 4 hours, preferably in a cool airy room. (You can drape them over a pasta dryer or clothes dryer, or a string stretched between two corners, of the kitchen.)
If you are not working with sausage casings, simply scoop 1-cup portions of the chorizo mixture into small plastic freezer bags. Sealed tightly, they can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 4 months. Or do as my mother suggests and completely cook the chorizo mixture before freezing. For this you will need 2 large skillets, with 1 – 2 tablespoons lard melted in each over medium heat. Add the chorizo mixture and cook, stirring often, for 12 – 15 minutes. Drain off as much of the rendered fat as possible and let the mixture cool completely before packing 1-cup portions into small plastic bags.
Yield: About 2 pounds sausage mixture.