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chorizo -- let's discuss!

i want to learn about chorizo, links and bulk-style.

1. what are the nuances of the seasonings in regional variations, like argentinian, mexican, salvadoran....others?

2. is it "everything but the squeal"?

3. what are the criteria to look for in evaluating quality?

4. how much per pound should one expect to pay for "quality" chorizo?

5. how do you use chorizo? what do you do with the fat rendered while cooking the fresh chorizo?

6. what are the casings made from?

7. what chorizo would you use for a spanish garbanzo bean soup? is that the "garbanzado"?

8. are some finely-textured meat paste, or are they always a rough grind?

edited to add:

9. smoked vs. fresh. do you ever "cook" the smoked?

thanks in advance! (please don't feel you need to follow my format,,,,) ;-).

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  1. I am no pro, but we lived in Spain for 4 years and the chorizo there vs. here (US) is quite distinct. In order of your questions, I think 1. in Spain it is mainly pimenton, in Chile it is similar 2. no idea, but I imagine it depends on the quality of the sausage, 2. price is generally a good indicator, other than a recommendation from the meat guy...3. hmm, no idea, 4. depends, 5. In Spain, we used chorizo for everything, the firm type was like lunchmeat, served in 'bocadillos', the fresh sort was in potato dishes, in eggs, links were always in soups, etc. The fat was eaten. In Chile the most delicious thing is Choripan, grilled fresh sausage in a small fresh roll, generally half of a bread called a mariquetta 6. intestine? 7. I would definitely use a fresh Spanish style chorizo. 8. All that I know are fairly rough, in Mallorca there is a sausage-type thing called sobrasada that too me is like a very loose, finely ground chorizo, but Spanish friends didn't agree.

    1. Great post idea! I would love to also know if there is any common brand or online source of decent chorizo. Everything I can find in my area has lymph nodes listed as one of the main ingredients, and I just can't bring myself to eat those. Does chorizo always contain lymph nodes?
      Phoo-D
      http://www.phoo-d.com

      2 Replies
      1. re: Phoo_d

        I can't speak too much to the Spanish style chorizo. For best quality, make your own. Rick Bayless has a recipe that's pretty good. For convenience, we use Supremo Mexican style chorizo as it is readily available. We prefer the Pork Chorizo, no picante. I'm allergic to certain peppers and the picante makes me sick (but it's soooooo good!). We use it for lots of stuff from breakfast to beans. Drain off the fat rendered from cooking as there will be residual fat. It's greasy!

        Stay far away from lymph nodes in chorizo. It makes for a really NASTY texture!

        1. re: Dee S

          Tips for making your own with a food processor: Make sure the blade is sharp. Pulse your cubed 1 1/2 lbs pork and 1/2 lb fat in 5 batches to avoid overloading the machine.

      2. My roommmate in college was Portugese and her mom made the best chorizo bread. It wasn't a chewy consistency, but was still a risen bread with yeast. I've looked for a recipe but can't find anything. If anyone has one that can be posted, I'd be grateful.

        4 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          If you use the Portuguese spelling, chourico, you'll find many recipes on the web.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Thank you. I can pronounce it but wasn't sure how to spell it.

            No luck--I just tried it. I found some but they have peppers or other ingredients. This was bread w/ chopped chourico, no rye, caraway seeds, vegetables.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Thanks--that's the one that I found that looks like it might work. But (and I'm going on memory for a couple of decades), it didn't seem like a such a heavy egg dough. I do want to give it a try, though.

        2. I'm going to Andalusia this weekend to help my inlaws slaughter 2 pigs and make sausages! Every year they make 4 types--chorizo, morcila (blood sausage), butiffara blanca ("italian sausages") and salchicon (cured dry sausage). It will be my first time so I will be taking lots of notes. I'll report back with the details of the chorizo making process.

          A few things I know ahead of time:
          1) often casting made with cow intenstine rather than the pig. Cow is more durable and easier to work with.
          2) Traditionally, spanish chorizos are not smoked. They are made fresh and put into the casting. Over time it is dries out and becomes more "cured" in flavor and is harder. At this point you can eat it raw like you would a salami.

          My favorite way to eat chorizo is fried when they are still fresh. And eaten along side a fried egg and a good piece of bread.

          Chorizos are used in lots of soups and stews. Callos cooked with chorizo is popular. Cocido madrilenos is also really popular--that's a meat soup with chicken, hen, jamon, beef bone, big chunks of chorizo and blood sausage and garbanzo beans. That's one of the things that will be cooked up during the family dinner this weekend. It is a really hardy wintery dish.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mielimato

            espero que tener exito! (spanish a wee bit rusty!)

            1. Hey Pal! I asked about chorizo awhile back and got quite an education. Here is a link to that thread. I had some in the freezer ready to try but nasty old Ike managed to ruin that for me!

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/458326

              Oh, and I got a brand that is made here in Texas, not full of guts, and it was $3.99 a pound.

              2 Replies
              1. re: danhole

                gracias a ti, dani! that was a good thread! it's a shame about ike! have you recovered completely?

                1. re: alkapal

                  Not yet! My freezers are still half empty and I am buying much smaller bottles of condiments. But now that hurricane season is over, we can at least begin to re-stock and take some deep breaths.

              2. We have three makers for the retail trade that I see around a lot.To say there is some confusion would be kind.Company A makes 5 regional recipes,Company X makes 6 regional recipes and so on.A's "Colombian" can't be distinguished by me from X's
                "Salvadoran" and so on.Three of the local,or nearly so use little by-products or to quote the spouse "scrotums".Two are doing a good > great list of ingredients on the package.
                The third sells "fresh" at a small kiosk in another place I shop and gladly offered the ingredient list.(my worry is corn by products) all list the "casing".I don't know why the
                various styles and countries overlap so much.Like A's Mexican that I can't tell from X's ?.
                So we have bought some only so-so and some fabulous to our palates.So far all are good in pasta,potato and bean soups and grilled .Saving the labels has helped
                4. I am paying $4.?? > $6.00 per pound fresh
                ...........................$9.00 plus per pound for smoked/hard from Spain and Portugal
                5. the fat helps in soup and egg dishes "to taste" most of the time
                6.? I would have to read again
                7. ???
                8. I am seeing all three textures/sizes of "grind",not specific to company of style or consistant
                9.At the cost of,not often.Yet a liitle goes a long way.
                ?? are we allowed to answer with brand/company and where to source in detail here??
                alkapal,if so I will check my local stops for you.So far I have been doing it a bit on impulse and auto pilot.I never remember this from that and country by company until looking at them.Two or three we have tried are stellar with rice and fresh greens.

                2 Replies
                1. re: lcool

                  there are a couple of latin markets with butchers right here close in arlington. the last chorizo i got, though, was from shopper's. (i'm sure that was the "highest" quality. ha ha).

                  1. re: alkapal

                    The family that has a kiosk in ? Rodmans is the Jr branch of a family with restaurants and retail in Arlington as well as Bethesda and Wheaton.The
                    product is very good,but the recipe/country of origin thing is sort of skewed.
                    So you just have to experiment and cross pollinate Mexico>Argentina>Colombia
                    etc.My Argentinian and Mexican friends think things are great and labeled wrong.
                    A bit frustrating,confusing and fun.

                2. 1) Chorizo is chopped pork and fat in natural casings. In Spain, the primary seasonings of paprika and salt are often augmented with garlic or herbs. Mexican chorizo is another breed entirely, with the meat finely ground and more highly seasoned. Chorizo de bilbao is garlicky and slightly spicy and usually comes packed in fat. Chorizo from Pamplona is hard and smoked and usually a mellower flavor. Chorizo in Caribbean tends to be similar Spanish chorizo fresco. There are many, many varieties from Goa to Puerto Rico to cover.
                  2) It is pretty much pork meat and fat as far as I've encountered.
                  3) I taste to tell whether or not the chorizo will be good. I look for sausages that are not too fatty and have a robust taste full of garlic, pimenton and meat. Cheap sausages often tasty "musty" to me.
                  4) The price depends on what kind of chorizo you're buying. For fresh chorizo, I pay around $8/lb.
                  5) I use hard chorizo as a tapa, in stews, braised and chopped to flavor other dishes. I use fresh chorizo usually for baked dishes but also in stews and soups. Mexican chorizo (which is the one that gives off the fat), I usually fry. I then use the fat to cook eggs. I have also used them to flavor rice and in a souffle.
                  6) Same thing other sausages are cased in.
                  7) I would use slices of the hard chorizo, (e.g. Palacios).
                  8) Mexican chorizo is usually finely ground (though I wouldn't call it a paste as in hot dogs). I have encountered chorizos de Bilbao that were also fine, but in general, most Spanish-style chorizos are roughly chopped.
                  9) I almost always coook the smoked, whether it is flaming them in liquor, braising them with sofrito, simmering them in a paella, etc.

                  1. I have to admit I don't know much about authentic chorizo. I have made my own, based on a recipe I found somewhere online and which my husband modified, and really, really like it. Very tasty, and not difficult to make. That recipe can be found here:

                    http://www.recipezaar.com/Chorizo-Sau...

                    As to what I use it for, I usually do one of two things: either saute it up to have with eggs, etc, for break fast, or make it into Crockpot Chorizo Stew. Love the stuff! :

                    )

                    ------------------------------------------

                    *** Crock Pot Chorizo Stew ***

                    4ΒΌ hours | 5 min prep

                    SERVES 4 -6

                    * 3 cups hot water
                    * 3 teaspoons beef bouillon
                    * 2 cups chopped cabbage
                    * 1 (15 ounce) can yellow hominy, drained
                    * 1 (7 ounce) can minced mild green chilies, with liquid
                    * 1 cup minced yellow onion
                    * 2 stalks celery, chopped
                    * 2 teaspoons minced roasted garlic
                    * 1/2 cup chopped roasted red pepper or yellow bell pepper
                    * 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, to taste (or black or pink or green mixture)
                    * 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
                    * 1 lb fresh chorizo sausage, removed from the skin
                    * salt and pepper, to taste

                    1. In the crock pot on high temperature, dissolve the bouillon in the hot water.
                    2. Add the cabbage, hominy, chiles, onion, celery, garlic, bell pepper, and freshly ground black pepper.
                    3. Over a high temperature in a skillet, saute the unskinned chorizo sausage in olive oil until browned, about 7 to 10 minutes.
                    4. Add cooked chorizo to the crock pot.
                    5. Simmer on high for 3 to 4 hours, or until it has reached the texture you prefer.
                    6. Add salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy.
                    7. Serve along with nice crusty bread or- even better- cornbread!

                    http://www.recipezaar.com/Crock-Pot-C...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Julesong

                      julesong, thanks for that recipe! i just got a slow-cooker and will try your recipe. i like hominy! the celery sounds like an odd fit, but i'll give it a shot!

                    2. i just came upon this recipe for "magdalenas de chorizo" using cream cheese and spanish chorizo to make little cakey "madeleines." http://marisadeorta.blogspot.com/sear...

                      looked pretty good!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: alkapal

                        I've only ever had Mexican-style chorizo. It's sold raw in links at the local latin market here (vallarta). We pay $2-3/lb. I prefer it to the mass produced chorizo sold in the meat dept of most large chain stores - that stuff turns to red greasy liquid when it's cooked and the flavor is pretty insipid. It also seems that the mass-produced chorizo contains a lot more...'parts' (i.e.: everything but the squeal) than the freshly made chorizo which seems to be made from ground pork along with some fat.

                        The chorizo from Vallarta cooks up like ground beef (I remove the casing) and the flavor is always delicious; since it's made on-site, the flavor varies (only slightly) but it's always delicious. As to the rendered fat...I find there is very little. In fact, I often have to add oil to get it to cook properly. In terms of 'quality'...I can't really say there are rules I follow other than, "does it taste good?".

                        I often cook it with potatoes: brown the chorizo first, then toss in some diced onion and minced garlic, then diced potatoes. Sometimes we melt cheese over the whole thing once the potatoes are cooked through.

                        I like it in my refried beans, too. I also make a burrito filling that my kids inhale: brown the chorizo, add some onion and garlic, then ground turkey plus salt, pepper and cumin. Once the turkey's cooked through, I toss in some peeled, cubed potatoes (cut pretty small) and cook till tender.

                        1. re: jencounter

                          I'll do the same with the sausage, grate some onion and add it. Grate some potato and add it. Top with cheese and a sunny side up egg. Now that's a good breakfast.

                          DT

                      2. I'm far from an expert on chorizo - in fact, I didn't know there were regional differences until an aunt gave me some chorizo she brought home from Spain and I tried to make chorizo con huevos! Still, I experimented with some fresh (Mexican-style) chorizo recently, and enjoyed it. I cooked it down in a frying pan, then added some flour and milk to make a chorizo gravy, then served it over fresh buttermilk biscuits. Man, it was tasty!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ricepad

                          I got introduced to chorizo con huevos on an E Clampus Vitus camping weekend - one of the guys we "Clamp" with has a big portable gas cooktop and he usually brings a few pounds of fresh chorizo to fry up, then scrambles a couple dozen eggs in there. Last couple of outings I've brought along a couple of packages of the Reser's cubed potatoes, plus a bunch of chopped onion and chopped Poblano pepper, and cooked all that in some of the chorizo fat. Not health food for sure, but awfully good.

                        2. Lots of Mexican chorizos here in So Cal. These are the only chorizos I'm familiar with.

                          Grind ranges from almost a paste to coarse(like a good italian sausage). The ones you find in Mexican carnicerias and bodegas are usually hand made. Casings are natural intestine. Price is cheap. Usually only 3-4 dollars a pound.

                          There are some commercial chorizos in the supermarkets that have artificial casings. I've also seen beef chorizo of the commercial variety.

                          My favorite use for chorizo is to fry or grill some up and place on a grilled corn tortilla with roasted pasilla peppers, a roasted cebollito and melted Mexican mozzerella(queso Oaxaca).