If the Sixth Annual Birthday Dinner (the reporting on which will continue this week) wasn’t enough to keep me busy in the kitchen, I had the May Charcutepalooza challenge to complete as well. I had already figured out meat grinding during the hilarity that made up my first attempt at sausage making, so it seemed logical to improve my skills by not only making the chorizo required by the challenge, but also stuffing it into casings. Charcuterie has a recipe for cold-smoked Spanish style chorizo in casings; it would take a few days longer to prepare than plain Italian sausage, but I thought it was worth a try.
The day after the birthday dinner, still achy from a solid day’s worth of meal prep, I assembled my ingredients for the chorizo: pure pork fat cut into one-inch cubes, pink salt (sodium nitrate), white pepper, nonfat dry milk powder, ground cumin, ancho chile powder (which I ground after toasting whole anchos in the oven), and lean pork butt trimmed of gristle and silverskin. I made the mistake of ordering the final weight of pork that was required by the recipe without considering how much I’d lose from trimming, so I adjusted the proportions of the remaining ingredients accordingly.
I mixed the pork and al the dry ingredients together, let them chill, then ran the pork through the large die of my grinder into a chilled bowl set in ice.
I ground the fat next through the small die, combined it with the pork, added ice water and scallions, then gave everything a mix with the paddle attachment until the meat was smooth and sticky.
As I mentioned in the sausage post, She Who Must Be Obeyed allowed me to buy a real sausage stuffer:
I had the main cylinder siting in the freezer while I did the grinding and mixing. After another embarrassing half hour spent threading hog casing onto the spout and assembling the stuffer, I summoned She Who to lend a hand. As before, I turned the crank and she guided the sausage as it was formed. We learned that the stuffer could overfill the casings if cranked too quickly, but we eventually figured out the correct rate of crankage to stuffage and churned out the entire batch in less than twenty minutes. If you look carefully at the three o’click position on the coil, you can see where the casing burst due to overfill.
I twisted the casings into links,
and isolated the burst section for quality control, using it to make chorizo and scallion scrambled eggs.
After sitting overnight uncovered in the fridge, I cold-smoked the links for four hours.
I hung the smoked links in my drying cabinet (a scientific equipment shipping trunk with vent holes drilled in the sides and a timed circulating fan bolted to the outside) and let them dry for four days. The digital hygrometer shows a near-perfect drying environment of 60°F and 68% humidity.
After four days I had the dryer, firmer chorizo you see at the top of this post. I wrapped and froze half of the batch, set aside the short link from the reaming half, and wrapped the rest for storage in the fridge.
I removed the casing from the short link (about three ounces) and made chorizo-lime buter.
I stuffed it under the skin of a four-pound chicken,
roasted it, and served the chicken with olive oil mashed potatoes.
Having successfully incorporated chorizo into two dishes, it was time to feature it as a main ingredient. But that’s the subject of the next post.