how-to-make-mexican-chorizo

How to Make Mexican Chorizo

Unlike the Spanish style of chorizo, which is cured and sliced like a traditional sausage, Mexican chorizo is a raw ground pork sausage, often uncased, that must be cooked before you eat it. Bright red, fatty, spiked with vinegar and hot chile peppers, and intensely flavorful, I’ve come to think of it as Mexican bacon. It improves almost everything it touches, providing a greasy, spicy, porky hit to almost anything you can think of.

I have taken to adding crispy-fried Mexican chorizo to almost every Mexican dish I make, from refried beans to tacos to chili to meatloaf. In Mexico, one of my favorite things to have for breakfast is chorizo con papas, finely diced potatoes, sauteed until soft, with finely-ground chorizo mixed in and fried until crispy. If you’re feeling like that’s not breakfast-y enough, you can also scramble in an egg. Folded into tacos, there’s nothing quite like spicy, crunchy ground pork to start your day, as well as take the edge off the tequila stomach you may have incurred the night before.

Pictured: Pure, fiery hatred.

In Maine, however, authentic Mexican chorizo can be somewhat difficult to come by. The major supermarkets don’t carry it. Whole Foods only has the Spanish stuff. La Bodega Latina, the Dominican grocery store on Congress Street, carries an uncooked chorizo, but it has a bit of a peculiar texture, and isn’t my favorite. Until now, my source for Mexican chorizo has been the Wal-Mart in Scarborough, of all places. (Actually, Wal-Mart is a bit of a hub for a lot of Mexican products that you either won’t find elsewhere, or that are too expensive in regular supermarkets, like corn husks for tamales, and bulk dried chiles. I do not fully understand the reasons for this.) I have been making occasional trips there to stock up on cheap Mexican chorizo, sold for a dollar per pound in long, plastic sleeves. It’s not bad, but it’s not wonderful, either: It’s mushy and ground a little too finely, and hard to get crisp, unless you are willing to fry it forever. It’s certainly not something you should use in recipes featuring chorizo as a primary ingredient.

So, rather than keep searching, I’ve taken it upon myself to make my own Mexican chorizo, from scratch. Like learning to make corn tortillas, once you have your own fresh chorizo recipe in your arsenal, you’ll always have some on hand, the next time a recipe calls for some. Our recipe uses a boneless pork shoulder, with a little pure pork fat ground back in.

A moment for a round of applause for the butcher counter at Whole Foods: In addition to a gorgeous selection of meat, featuring anything you could possibly want, including a perfectly reasonable selection of smoked meats, the meat counter there is also staffed by some of the friendliest meat cutters I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to. I’ve never presented them with a request they couldn’t accommodate, even when those requests are a little off-the-wall and, well, gross. They’ve hooked me up with whole bags of chicken skins, pounds of sliced pork fat, and anything else I could imagine, often for next to no money. So, scoot yourself right past the $4 organic portobello mushrooms, the $14 pasta salad, the $8 chocolate, the barbecue-flavored soy crispettes, and the lukewarm barbecue bar, and use Whole Foods exclusively for what it does best: Meat.

Make sure your meat, grinding blades, grinder, and all bowls are as cold as possible. Pork fat can gum up your grinder, but not if you work with chilled meat. After grinding, let the chorizo rest overnight in the refrigerator before using or freezing; the flavors will intensify, and the ground chiles will mellow and work through the meat. This recipe will provide you with a little more than two pounds of ground chorizo, which you can pan fry until crispy and sprinkle liberally on everything you eat from here on out.

Fresh Mexican Chorizo
Makes about two and a half pounds. Adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pound lean boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 ounces pork fat
  • 12 medium dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves ground
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon each dry thyme and marjoram
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

Method:

  1. In a food processor, grind chiles and all spices. Add vinegar and about a cup of water (or more) to make a paste. Strain mixture into a large bowl.
  2. Cut pork and fat into one inch cubes, and toss with spice mixture. Arrange in a single layer on a plate, and freeze for 15 minutes or until meat is firm, but not frozen. Freeze all bowls, utensils, grinding blades, and anything else that will touch meat, as well.
  3. Grind the seasoned meat and pork fat coarsely. If you have a bowl with some leftover spice mixture, add the ground meat back to this bowl, and mix with your hands, to get as much of the spice mixture incorporated into the meat as possible. Cover, and refrigerate overnight before serving.

 

Comments

      • Chuck Kopsho says

        Here in sunny San Diego, you can find Mexican chorizo in abundance, and pretty much all over Southern California. The taste of it with scrambled eggs is nirvana. I would love to have it as a pizza topping.

        • pat simon says

          Oh, yes, it is nirvana simply scrambled with eggs! This is my go-to breakfast anytime I’m in LA or in Mexico. Unfortunately, as sophisticated as Seattle now fancies itself to be, and despite the growing Hispanic population, I have yet to find decent chorizo here. There’s one grocery store that makes their own and gets really close, but theirs is too lean…none of that oozy spicy fat. So not entirely bereft, but still. Maybe I’ll ask them to make it with more fat/a fattier cut & see what happens. In the meanwhile, I’m going to try this at home!

  1. Stan says

    Thanks for another great write up.Being born and raised in California(forever from away) I agree with your assessment of good chorizo in Portland.The best I have found is at Rosemont on Brighton.They have outstanding sausage from a guy who knows how to do it.While all their sausage is excellent including exotic styles and countries for Portland, they are all worth the premium price .

    • Malcolm says

      You know, I still haven’t tried Rosemont, though it keeps coming up as people’s go-to source for ingredients like this. I’ll have to check it out.

  2. Lauren says

    Totally agree with you re: Whole Foods. We only buy meat from there and everything else is way too expensive.

    • Malcolm says

      It’s hard to keep your eyes on the prize and skip all of their prepared foods, but you really kind of have to, unless you are spending huge amounts of money just for the sake of doing so.

  3. Patrick says

    I have a Whole Foods gift card burning a hole in my pocket, a recently-acquired grinder attachment for my KitchenAid waiting to be christened, and a hankering for chorizo. This may have to happen – soon.

    • Malcolm says

      Argh, I lost the cutting blade to our grinder, but only learned this after I started this project…so I had to race out and buy a whole new grinding set. So, if anyone loses their feed tube, plunger, or grinding plates, but still has the blade, let me know, and we can arrange a trade.

  4. Jeff Andrade says

    Have you ever tried Portuguese choriço? This sounds very similar to it in the spicing and that it is not a precooked product.
    Further, there is also choriço meat, sold in Portuguese markets that have a butchery, which is the uncased version of the product, basically pork cutlets with the same spicing.
    Granted, I only see these products in the Portuguese-American enclaves if SE Mass.: Fall River and New Bedford…

  5. stephen says

    I’m glad you posted this up! I buy tubes of chorizo every week from Kroger, definitely interested in saving some money and working with this recipe!

  6. greg says

    I love pulled pork. How do you think this might turn out if you incorporate the spice paste into a slow cooked pork shoulder for pulled pork. My bbq rub uses chili, paprika, a little cinnaman, cumin… water and vinegar in bottom of whatever you cook the pork in… not much different

  7. Beth says

    I used to live in Maine (and am now in New Hampshire.) Funny, the thing about Wal-Mart… I too have noticed that they have a better selection of “ethnic” foods than most grocery stores, even in areas which have virtually no minority population. Wal-Mart is a master of market research and so I don’t think they just stock the same thing everywhere… this stuff must be in demand.

    I have found good chorizo at various Midcoast grocery stores, but the availability is always very hit or miss.

    By the way, you can make this even more easily with pre-ground pork. This also allows you to really easily make a low-fat (less authentic, but more healthy) version still using pork – a 94% lean ground pork (in addition to the usual fatty version) is available at my Hannaford. This might not be QUITE as delicious, but if you can eliminate all need for a grinder/blender/food processor, you’ll make it even more often. I use a recipe by Emeril which does call for grinding, and I follow it pretty closely except for using the pre-ground pork. It is a no-food processing required recipe, using just fresh garlic (which I grate), crushed red pepper, paprika (I use smoked), ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, pepper, and red wine. (I use cider vinegar instead.)

    Regarding Portuguese choriço (and linguica) – Gaspar’s brand are both widely available in southern/midcoast Maine. Part of my family is Portuguese and from New Bedford and we’re big consumers of both.

  8. Maureen says

    I’ve picked up chorizo from Thirty Acres Farms and from Piper Ranch at the Portland Farmers Market. Great, tasty, local sausage! This will be my fall-back when they’re out and/or I don’t have any in my freezer. Thank you!!

  9. Rosemary Bliss says

    The vinegar is essential to Mexican chorizo. I’ve been making it like this for years because I didn’t like the idea of the ingredients used in many of the brands in the market.

  10. Nicole Nadeau says

    After living in Arizona for more than 25 years, moving to Maine was a little shock to the culinary system. While pregnant I CRAVED chorizo and egg burritos from the local taco shop. I don’t have a grinder or I would be ALL over this…. but maybe it something to add to my Christmas list.

    • Malcolm Bedell says

      Hey Nicole! You can get a similar result by starting with pre-ground pork from the grocery store, and incorporating this spice blend. Just be sure to mix it really well!

  11. G Olmos says

    Your forgot to add Garlic. Also, Chorizo can be made with Beef.

    Chorizo was originally made with all of the leftovers from the Hog. Everything went in, Snout, ears, glands, and whatever meat was left and was ground up. I am from Arizona and grew up on the border eating this. I love it.

    Your recipe is authentic except for the garlic.

  12. Beni Reyna says

    My Dad and his family had a grocery/tortilleria back in the day.
    It was his job to make the chorizo. Besides the ingredients you mentioned
    he also added Mexican paprika and a bit of comino(cumin). Other than that
    your recipe is ” a toda madre”, translation awesome.

    • madd says

      Yes. I kept thinking, “No paprika? No cumin?” Where I grew up there was a woman who made chorizo and sold it to the ladies in the neighborhood. It was the best. As far as grocery store chorizo goes, I’ve only tried 3 brands. Cacique is was to finely ground and not seasoned to my taste. Dos Mamacitas was ok as far as seasoning goes, less heartburn than I get from my usual store brand, but it’s made of veal … and I can’t hang with that. Supremo is the one I usually eat. I like the seasoning in it and it’s a lot less finely ground than Cacique. I may be wrong, but I think Cacique is what most Walmart stores carry.

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