How to make Spanish Chorizo

I am a great fan of Chorizo, it is that wonderfully tasty sausage which is found all over Spain. It is intrinsically Spanish and there are many different versions in different areas of the country; even families within an area will have their own particular favourite or variation that they make. However, there are two basic categories or types - fresh chorizo, which will need cooking before you eat it, and cured chorizo, which you can slice and consume without cooking and would usually be included in hors d'oeuvres.

Chorizo sausages contain paprika or pimentón, therefore they are normally a deep orangey/red colour. Paprika comes in three different flavours - "picante" or spicy, and "dulce" or sweet and also smoked. Depending on the type of paprika used to make the sausage, the resulting chorizo will be either a spicy, sweet or wonderfully smoky and nutty flavour.

Ingredients:

- 1 kilo Pork, shoulder joint is a good cut for this as the fat percentage is usually about right.
- 40g or so of Paprika – whichever version you choose, sweet, spicy or smoked to taste.
- 2 cloves garlic - peeled and finely chopped or ground.
- 20g salt (or 2.5% of the combined weight of meat and fat)
- 50cm pig's intestine or Collagen sausage making tube.
- A little water.

Method:

1. Mince or chop up the pork to a reasonably fine cut.
2. Mix in the paprika, garlic, and salt.
3. If necessary, use a little water to facilitate mixing.
4. Cover with cling film.
5. Leave in fridge 24-48 hours.
6. Fill intestine or Collagen tube with the mixture, leaving a few centimetres of intestine free at one end to tie a knot in. (See my other sausage recipes for how to do this)
7. Tie a knot in the end of the intestine. If cooking and eating as fresh sausages you will need to twist to separate to size of sausage you want, or if you intend to hang, just separate into foot long lengths (30cm) and tie both ends with butchers string in order to form a loop. If storing or hanging, prick the casings and gently squeeze to ensure all the air pockets are removed from the sausage.
8. Leave to hang in a well-ventilated place, normally for 3 months plus. If mixed and hung correctly a white powder should form on the outside of the casing. Interestingly enough, the white powder that forms on the curing Chorizo is akin to the Penicillium candidum used to form skin on white rind cheese. If other coloured moulds appear,, it would be worth rubbing with a mixture of diluted salt and vinegar, check the smell to ensure it does not smell ‘spoilt’.

If eating fresh, they will keep in the fridge for a week or so, eat in soups with white beans etc. or with Pan Roasted Cod, beautiful.

There is some debate and difference of opinion about the risk of Botulism when curing sausages such as Chorizo which is by no way something that can be discarded as trivial.

On one side of the debate there are those who feel Sodium Nitrate or other proprietary brands of preserving salts should be added, however there are others who think, if done properly the risk of creating any bad bacteria is slim to none at all.

I tend to think if it’s not required then don’t add it, therefore as long as you do everything you can to remove the risk, it’s a personal choice.

If you wish to add product to ensure the risks are reduced then you need to be looking at such product as :

Acidophilus which is an acid loving milk bacteria that is used as ‘a starter’ to begin the fermenting process.

Bactoferm, (Penicillium nalgiovense) is a live starter culture that feeds on sugar and produces lactic acid similar to Acidophilus.

There is a curing salt called Insta-Cure #2 which is a commercial variety of Prague Powder.

Prague Powder#2 is a mixture of salt, sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite. The sodium nitrate in the cure breaks down over time to sodium nitrite and that is then broken down to nitric oxide, which acts as an oxidizing agent keeping the meat safe from our most evil of enemies, botulism. Some people feel this is essential for Chorizo making – I think, if you are making Chorizo with a view to commercially selling it, then it would be worth doing.

If you are going to use these products please add it at the prescribed amount and hang the Sausage for at least 3 months.

 

A Basic Dry Cure with Granulated Sugar:

• 1 pound/450 grams non-iodized (kosher) salt

• 8 ounces/225 grams sugar

• 2 ounces/50 grams pink salt

 

A Basic Dry Cure with Dextrose:

• 1 pound/450 grams Non-iodized (kosher) salt

• 13 ounces/425 grams dextrose

• 3 ounces/75 grams pink salt

 

Once mixed, this can be stored in a plastic container with a firm lid for a very long time.