Monday, September 10, 2007

chorizo


Ahh the mighty pig. From this noble beast we extract so many comfort foods, hearty, stick to the ribs kind of food that makes us want to roll up our sleeves in preparation. I grew up eating so much pork that I had tasted every single part of the animal by the age of 3. I loved it all, no wonder my family gave me the nickname "piglet." Because I hit my pork peak so early on, I haven't eaten much of it since I was a kid. But I can easily understand how pork lies at the heart of so many comfort foods.

Chorizo, a spicy pork sausage, hails from Portugal and Spain, and is usually cured and cooked/served sliced in the casing. The Mexican form tends to be made from fresh ground pork, to which spices are added, and cooked without having gone through any drying or curing process. This latter form can easily be made in your own kitchen. Best yet, you can control the amount spice and the cleanliness and leaness of the meat you use.

Chorizo

1 lb. ground pork

1 heaping Tbsp paprika (preferably smoked spicy Spanish paprika**- pimenton picante)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 heaping tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch ground coriander
2 tsp dried Mexican oregano (regular is fine)

4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/4 cup white vinegar or sherry vinegar

1. Mix together all the dry spices. Set aside.

2. With the pork at room temperature, in a large bowl, mix together spice mix with the pork, adding in the garlic and vinegar. Mix well.

3. A) You can fry up the meat at this point, flattening and chopping it up in the pan as you cook it. Taste the meat, and as always, you can adjust the spices to your taste. B) If you have sausage casings available, you can stuff them with the meat mixture. C) Take a large rectangular piece of saran wrap, and form the meat into a log shape, rolling it tightly with the wrap, eventually sealing the ends by twisting. Cover in a layer of foil, and boil in a pot of water for about 10 min. Let cool, unwrap, slice into
wedges, and cook in your favorite chorizo recipe.

**Spanish paprika is made from pimientos (a Spanish pepper) that are slowly smoked and dried over a duration of ten to fifteen days. They become completely infused with the intense smoky flavors of the oak chips over which they roast. The flesh is isolated and ground to a super-fine, deep red powder. There are three kinds of smoked paprika- sweet (dulce), spicy (picante), and bittersweet (agridulce).


For dinner, I made chorizo con huevos- a scramble of eggs and chorizo, which I topped with melted cheddar cheeses and salsa.