Chorizo Toluqueño

Posted on 16/01/2011

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My first entry in the “basic meat preps” chapter and its one of my favorite foods…chorizo!  More specifically Chorizo Toluqueño. The Mexican state of Toluca, where this recipe comes from, is famous for its chorizo. My chorizo was a labor of love but two key pieces of equipment could have made it a lot easier.

  1. A decent chef’s knife –  I have a few cheap department store knives, which work pretty well for most everyday purposes.  But I found out how truly dull they were once I started breaking down the pork shoulder.  Cutting a serious piece of meat like that, without a sharp knife, is a fool’s errand.
  2. A meat grinder –  You can grind meat with a food processor.  In my experience it is a messy and slow process, a decent meat grinder would make it so much easier.  Optionally you may want a sausage stuffer and some hog casings to make the chorizo look really nice & professional.

Bayless’ recipe calls for 8oz of lean boneless pork loin, 8oz of lean boneless pork shoulder, and about 5oz (1/3lb) of pork fat.  I pretty much tripled the recipe but for whatever the reason, the butcher at the supermarket couldn’t sell me any pork fat.  So I opted for a bone-in pork shoulder (1/2 picnic cut) which was fattier than the boneless boston butt (despite the name, pork butt is not the ass end of the pig; it’s the top part of the shoulder).  After tediously separating skin from fat, flesh from bone, and all sorts of connective tissue, I cut the pork into chunks to be ground.

Grinding meat in the food processor sucks.  It takes a long time because you have to work in small batches.  I found the shredding attachment blade worked best.  I don’t have any photos of this step in the process because by then my hands were covered in pig juice.  After the meat is ground you mix it with the seasonings and there are quite a few:

  • chile ancho
  • coriander seed
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • oregano
  • black peppercorns
  • nutmeg
  • ginger
  • paprika
  • garlic
  • cider vinegar

You can use pre-ground seasonings but you will need a spice grinder for the chile ancho anyway, so you may as well grind everything yourself.  (fun fact: chile ancho is the dried version of chile poblano)

I basically added everything to the meat and mixed it by hand, sort of kneading it like dough.  At this point you can fry up a bit and taste it.  After everything is well seasoned your chorizo is ready to be aged.  If you’re not stuffing the sausage then Chef Bayless recommends a refrigerated aging technique.  Leave the sausage inside a colander and the colander inside a bowl, in the fridge for 2 days or so.  As it sits the flavors will mingle and the excess liquid will drip off into the bowl or evaporate.

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out.  It definitely smells like chorizo when you fry it.  The flavor is a little different than commercial chorizos I’ve tried but  in a good way.  It’s complex and spicy (but not spicy hot), the ancho chiles give it a distinctive flavor (and color), the vinegar makes it a little sharp, and the cinnamon adds a surprising earthiness to the sausage.

I made chorizo!  Can you believe it?  While this chorizo was not exactly easy to make, when I look back, it wasn’t exactly hard either.  I feel like I broke some real ground here and I actually kind of impressed myself.  Now when I die my eulogy can say, “He made chorizo, from scratch, and it was good.”

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