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Chorizo crawl - Pork salivary glands, lymph nodes & fat (cheeks)

This is probably the scariest thing I’ve eaten in my life.

I’ve been doing a little crawl of local SF Bay Area Mexican markets and eating some wonderful chorizo. So I figured I’d wrap things up and try a commercial brand for comparison - El Mexicano

I pick up a 12 oz plastic package for $1.49. I don’t read the ingredient list till I get home ...

Pork salivary glands, lymph nodes & fat (cheeks), paprika, soy flour, vinegar, salt, spices red pepper, garlic, sodium nitrate.

I’m still game ... after all who knows what’s in most hot dogs, this is no different.

There are instructions on the package to remove the casing before cooking ... well, ok, but I’ve been cooking most of the chorizo from the butcher shops with casing.

No ... you MUST remove the casing ... it is plastic.

The red chorizo squooshed out. It was soft like pate or a soft liverwurst. There were long stringy pieces in it ... lymph nodes perhaps?

So I cook it up and it releases quite a bit of thin plasma-red liquid. After reading the ingredient list and looking at this soft mess ... like an idiot I taste it.

Man ... I think they left the saliva in the glands it had that awful, soft sliminess to it.

I figure maybe if I reduce it and cook it down it can be salvaged ... no it gets softer and more unctuous ... ick, ick, ick, ick, ick.

I really can’t tell you what it tastes like other than saliva with spices because the gag factor kept coming in play. Really, put this stuff on Fear Factor.

This is NOT chorizo. And if you have ever been unfortunate enough to buy it ... it is NOT chorizo. Go to a good Mexican carneceria and get some good chorizo. The worst chorizo I tried was so superior to this ... it was edible.

5 servings per container 210 calories each calories from fat 160 ... yeah, that’s calories I’ll never consume.

Who eats this stuff?


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  1. Answer: Working class folks and restaurant buyers who aren't picky and who only want cheap.

    Don't say we didn't warn you! The questionable qualities of commercially made (in California) 'Mexican style' chorizo have been discussed here
    and around the L.A. board
    fairly often.
    I've found that the 'no name' chorizo obtained from markets catering to Mexicans usually contains those nodule thingies but they aren't tough like that grissle in commercial brands.
    If you have to go commercial, buy Mexican longaniza which is less fatty, doesn't seem to contain the above 'parts' and is, of course, more expensive.
    I usually make it myself from ground pork and spices, pretty darn simple.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DiveFan

      Yeah, it was hard to find it in a Mexican market. I went to three before I could find the El Mexicano chorizo and the sad thing is there is actually a butcher shop in back of that store with a decent chroizo.

      I guess the price was about half of the butcher shop $3 for 12 oz instead of $1.50 ... but good grief the stuff is really inedible. Out of the aproximately 15 no name chorizo's I tried only two could be identifiable as perhaps organ meat by the taste ... but that was more liverwurst like.

      I just was curious to see how the big name brand compared to the little guys ... little guys definately slew the giant in terms of product.

      I did try two no-name longaniza, but it is kind of a different sausage more solid. Like the chroizo they were wildly different.

    2. Sorry to say but sausage is one of the ways to to use "all of the animal", regardless of culture. I mean, don't even ask about what's in a hot dog and have you ever heard of blood sausage? As mentioned, it's peasant food.

      Any way, if it halps Niman Ranch is now offering chorizo.

      I thought about buying NR chorizo but I figured it would be relatively bland, probably a bit dry and lacking any depth. It would however be made of safe meat bits from humanely grown animals. NR makes quality products but for sausage you need fat and they shy away from it. They also seem to prescribe to the "pulverize it like a hot dog slurry" school of texture for most of their sausages.

      BTW, there are a few Mexican markets that make it themselves. Mi Rancho or one of the places near University and San Pablo did at one point but not sure any longer. Speaking Spanish at those places seems to help, although I've been able to order from the butcher w/o it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ML8000

        Thanks, as I said in reponse to DiveFan it was just to see how the 15 chorizos I've tried at the East Bay Mexican markets stacked against a big name brand. I also did a comparison to an upscale chroizo by Hobbs.

        That was a lovely sausage but I suspect that like NR it is Spanish and not Mexican chorizo.

        Up until the Hobbs chorizo I was under the impression that the Spanish version was dried, but I guess there are fresh versions too. It is solid like a sausage rather than crumbly like Mexican chorizo. A Spanish chorizo could be thrown on the BBQ ... a Mexican chorizo could not.

        I have no problem with what is in sausage as long as it doesn't taste close to the original ingrediant. If I was chewing on little piece of pigs ear in a hot dog It would bother me. But honest to heavens this had the taste and mouth feel of what I would imagine saliva glands or lymph nodes would taste like ...
        think a mouthfeel like partly pureed ground up raw oysters mixed with raw eggs ... oh gee, why did I have to think of that again ... ick, ick, ick, ick, ick ... gag.

      2. Yikes, makes me grateful for the meat vendors at the farmer's markets with their versions of chorizo!

        That stuff you bought sounds offal, simply offal. (sorry, couldn't resist)

        1. I had the same experience with the cheap stuff you buy at the grocery store - totally disgusting. The look and smell of it turned my stomach - and NO, after that I did not taste it.

          I've been looking at recipes for making my own chorizo and that's the direction I'll go in next time

          1. I'm posting from Pátzcuaro, México. Almost every carnicería here makes its own chorizo. Unfortunately, they all seem to me to have varying strengths of aromas and tastes of meat scraps that should have been fed to the dog, or better, thrown away. Dios mío, they *give* the stuff away in generous chunks when you buy other meat. what does that tell you?

            The best chorizo here is a commercial brand, Capistrano or San Rafael. It is available in the salchiconería of the supermercado. It tastes good and smells good. It's better after it has hung over a rack and concentrated the flavor by drying a little.
            Chorizos hanging out in Morelia: http://www.pbase.com/image/56511911

            2 Replies
            1. re: Anonimo

              Thanks for the info about the chorizo situation in your area of Mexico. Nice picture. Usually here they don't tie the links, it is one long coil. Here's the chrorizo situtation in a section in the SF Bay Area.

              Anonimo, I see you respond to questions on the Mexico board. It would be wonderful if you would post about some of the places in your town or restaurants you visit.

              Too often the International Boards are tourist requests. I know it is sometimes hard to post when no one will probably respond. However, more people read than respond. I know anyone looking for info in Mexico would find your posts about someone who lives in the area so useful.

              1. re: rworange

                Hola, rworange, I'm a new kid on the block here, and when I can think of a worthwhile topic, I'll post it. Thanks for the encouragement. Meanwhile, you might want to look at my Mexico photos, which you'll find in sub-galleries here: http://www.pbase.com/panos/move_to_me...

                I also have a Mexican food blog, to which I post intermittently and sometimes tardily, at:

            2. Mis dos centavos:

              > Well the guys that own El Mexicano... are very distant relatives of mine... think being part of the same clan, as opposed to the extended family. I once made Birria with one of the kids back in Jalisco. I agree their Chorizo is very low quality... all highly regarded Chorizo in Mexico is made of pork shoulder or loin (it is so low fat, it requires some lard to prevent sticking).

              > But, Chorizo made of offal does have some following... apparently in Patzcuaro. Here is the scary note... eateries serving up Chorizo & Egg burritos, Chorizo hash & other dishes where it is blended with something... most likely use El Mexicano, Reynaldo's, Carmelita or Cacique (all the same basic crap)... than the artisan Chorizo you find at the meat markets.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                You know, that is the worst part of it. That taste is burnt in my tastebud memory. I am now reluctant to order chorizo at any Mexican joint because if I get the El Mexican taste, that is the end of it for me.

                I left it in the fridge thinking maybe cold it would taste better. Yeah, what it looked and tasted like the next day would really get this post deleted if I got graphic ... it would be funny ... but ...

                Really, I have this thing about tossing food out. Tried to bury it in a roll stuffed with cilantro ... the taste surfaced ... tossed roll, cilantro & chorizo.

                Yeah, I hit a few chorizos where the offal origin was apparant, but even those were edible.

                The thing is El Mexican makes some decent products, this just doesn't happen to be one of them. They have a beef and a few other versions of chorizos. Haven't tried them, but I would definately ready the ingrediant list if ever tempted to buy then.

              2. There are different types of chorizo. Some soft, some hard, totally different. They are cooked in different ways. The soft squishy kind is usually meant to be cooked with other things like: eggs, potatoes, meat, beans, nopales, etc. etc.

                1 Reply
                1. re: soulimar

                  Yes, Mexican chorizo seco is dry and hard. Although it is different from the dried, hard Spanish chorizo. This was competing with all the other soft Mexican chorizo and is swill. All the other fresh soft Mexican chorizo I've had was good ... and I've really eaten a lot. Fresh Spanish chorizo is a denser sausage than the Mexican and more suitable for grilling in my experience.

                2. After hearing about the wonderful breakfast burritos w/ chorizo the guys were getting off the catering trucks around L.A., I bought some of that plastic encased glop about 23 years ago. I was going to surprise the men in the family with chorizo and eggs. The stuff let out what seemed like cups of bright orange fat and the "meat" was loaded with white stringy stuff that my wooden spoon could not even "de-clump" as I jabbed away at the mass in the pot. As the laughter from the males rose both in response to my cursing and yelping and their glances at the atrocity in the pot, I got a bunch of newspaper and pitched it, running and screaming to the trash dumpster. The next experience was in Ensenada, Mexico sitting at a local diner and wondering what the grill lady was eating as she dipped freshly fried tortilla chips into a bowl of dark stuff. She said it was chorizo. We had some- WOW- tasty, almost tangy, spicy, and not greasy at all. I recently found some at a local Mexican restaurant that has a deli case, and it was like a step back into a good food memory along with their freshly fried tortilla chips when I cooked it up at home.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: torty

                    At least you were smart enough to toss the stuff without trying to eat it, unlike moi. That is just a great description of how it cooks up. Even the worst house-made chorizo at the local carnecerias was so heads above this packaged stuff.

                    ... and yet ... 23 years later this stuff is still being made. It is a mystery.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Rworange, where do you recommend buying house made chorizo? Or did most of the carnicerias put forth a pretty decent product? You say SF East Bay, I assume you mean the Fruitvale area.


                      1. re: Louise

                        Mainly Richmond to Pinole.

                        Step in any Mexican market with an in-store butcher. You can buy a small piece that is about the size of a sausage link to see if it is any good. Some are great. Some only ok. At most you are initially risking 75 cents or a buck.

                  2. Cheap chorizo in plastic casing has been around for decades, and was the only chorizo you could buy in the Bay Area supermarkets. I've long been using it as a flavoring ingredient in tacos, scrambled eggs, beans, etc. and enjoying it, even after reading the ingredients.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Sharuf

                      So you are the person responsible for keeping this going. Hope you'll give the better stuff a try..

                      1. re: rworange

                        Sorry, I'm with Sharuf--now and then in the US I enjoy the stuff BECAUSE of the ingredients!

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          I'm also on this side of things, with Sharuf and Fujisaka. The ingredients, texture, stringy white things... all crispy and somewhat caramelized mixed into eggs, scrambled, is great on hot tortillas de maize. Add some Tamazula or salsa Valentina, and it's perfect. Eat two or three of these tacos and you're set on a saturday or sunday morning...

                    2. I had to reopen this great thread because the giant meat packer Farmer John, a division of Hormel, has come out with 'tradicional' style chorizo; half the price of their 'premium' and, yup, it has the same awful ingredients as the other Cal-Mex brands.
                      BOO HISS, shame on you, Farmer John! Maybe time for a boycott.
                      At least the same FFL still carries Silva linguica (not Mexican style, but tasty).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DiveFan

                        I recall searching several supermarkets in Dallas for chorizo not made from salivary glands. The only one I found was a "deluxe" one at the Danals chain, which specializes in Mexican food.

                        However, I found an excellent, all pork meat chorizo at the meat counter in the Soriana supermarket in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico.

                        And here in Toronto, many supermarkets carry "chourico", Portuguese-style chorizo, delicious and with unexceptionable ingredients.

                      2. ... nevermind.

                        just keep in mind that there are different types of chorizo, and this was your first experience with this particular type. Farmer John's chorizo isn't the best by any means, but IT IS actual real chorizo. Some chorizo is very loose and cooks up out of it's casing to be mixed with eggs, potatoes etc...

                        I just cooked Farmer John's chorizo for the first time, and it tasted fine, but in no way authentic. There are two types of chorizo. Spanish and Mexican. Seems you're used to Spanish chorizo.

                        1. that was possibly one of the most revolting descriptions of food i've read on this site... and that comes from someone who once was chastised for likening onions in onion rings to tape worms.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Firegoat

                            So, you haven't read my description saying that the flabby texture of McDonald;s wrap tortillas makes me imagine what it would be like to eat human skin?

                            Some food is just disgusting.

                            1. re: rworange

                              ew. how could i have missed that?

                          2. Very odd that this thread should be reincarnated again today! I bought my first roll of chorizo today, planning to add it to some queso for a gathering at work tomorrow. I go to cook it and glance at the ingredients list and see exactly what the OP did. Stunned, I run to the internet and search Chorizo to find out if this is normal and I get led to this thread.
                            Thank goodness! You saved me from even opening the package and it's now in the trash. Guess it'll have to be plain ol queso for tomorrow...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Lixer

                              It's one of those things you enjoy and don't look at the ingredients, or it gets ruined forever for you.

                              1. re: Lixer

                                Spanish chorizo typically has less junk in than Mexican chorizo. The spicing however is different...but there is a decent alternative: soy chorizo. Yes the idea grossed me out too but it does work in certain dishes just fine.

                              2. I bought two tubes of the stuff one beef the other pork, i cooked about half the pork smelled ok but the texture was strange kind of disolved int little pellets of what looked like fat or ground grissle I dumped in a can of black beans and some Garlic powder. I put it in a bowl and tasted it,,, wow very spicy but weard,,, i started reading the ingrediants and allmost vomited, good lord who wants to eat pig or cow saliva glands,pig or cow spit ! I make homemade sausage and have all the equipment to do so properly, stuff like what they put in this belongs in pet food at best, Now i must make some homemade from scratch from clean pure pork blade roast or fresh ham. Nothing i have ever eaten repulsed me so much as this, I am feeling ill just writing about it. If you ever buy chiorzo , PLEASE read the ingrediants , Real Chiorzo is made frrom real meat, not dog food!

                                1. I can't figure out why people are freaking out over what is in Cacique pork or beef chorizo? It's head meat. Head meat is big in many countries and especially in Mexico. In Mexico AKA cabeza! It always amazes me how squeamish many Americans are about certain parts of a carcass. And you cook your chorizo till its almost dry and crispy that's the secret.

                                  1. That is seri seriously nasty

                                    1. I love it. But I mix it 50/50 with pork sausage. Best skillet meal ever with bacon pieces and hashbrowns and scrambled eggs. Gourmet prison food.

                                      It's also good mixed in a bit with hamburger patties.

                                      Even the cheap chorizo is yummy :)

                                      1. I thought I'd commented on this thread back in the day.

                                        I bought some of this stuff and tossed it on the charcoal grill without reading the directions or noticing the casing was made of plastic.

                                        It started oozing out of little holes that melted in the casing. It was actually kind of disturbing to look at. Most of it oozed through the grates and burned on the hot charcoal. I managed to grab a little bit with a spoon and cook it in a saute pan. I really didn't miss the majority that oozed out and incinerated.

                                        1. Lol....white people. You don't slice it...you mash it up cook it with eggs, tabasco and tortilla and youre good to go, that is REAL Mexican food, id know.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: psylospher3

                                            Agreed. I am 100% "white" though with 1/2 German, 1/4 Swedish, 1/8 Scottish, 1/8 "Dutch," but I do know that there are two types of chorizo from two countries -- slimey and sausage -- I prefer slimey. Wikipedia it.

                                            1. re: Muddirtt

                                              Choriso tastes great, including the mass market variety that discloses the fact that it includes salivary glands. I'd been eating it for years, and then read the ingredients which did give me pause. So I inquired of my pal from Mexico, really? Salivary glands?

                                              She gave me a pitying look and said, "it's head meat". I just went back to scrambling eggs with it. It's sausage, yo. Don't read the ingredients, you don't want to know.