re: Gypsy Jan
It's not hard, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Use dglidden's suggestion to age it in bulk and then roll it into a log and freeze. That's way simpler than trying to stuff casings - though if you need natural casings Iowa Meat Farms in SD has excellent ones. Chorizo freezes beautifully
I hate to be glib, but the best way to get really good Mexican chorizo is to make it yourself. I do. Diana Kennedy has a super recipe in her The Cuisines of Mexico cookbook. I posted the recipe and instructions on Chowhound within the last year. Try searching for it. If you can't find it and are actually interested in making it yourself I can email you the information.
Gotta second this recommendation. I've been making the red and green chorizos of Diana Kennedy's and they're delicious. The one's I've been making are in The Art of Mexican Cooking. The green is in the style of Toluca (famous for it's chorizos) the red is from Huetemo, which is in Michoacan where she lives.
The recipes are easy, the hard part for me is that the sausage stuffer attachment for the Kitchenaid is worthless for these recipes. I've followed her instructions to let them hang for 3 days. This goes against every bit of food safety training I've ever had, but I haven't killed anyone yet with my chorizos, nor has anyone ever gotten remotely ill from them.
GJ, if you want to try it, I'll come down and help you.
I stuffed the sausages (pain in the ass) for years, until it dawned on me that since the casings have to be removed before frying, this was an unnecessary and rather silly step for home cooks. After the chorizo mixture has been seasoning for a couple of days, with daily remixing the mixture, I simply form the chorizo into a "log" (maybe two inches in diameter and an indeterminate length, depending on how much chorizo you make. I then wrap the log in waxed paper and then with aluminum foil and freeze it. It keeps almost indefinitely—though I can't prove this because in my house we normally eat it all in a couple of weeks or three. When it's time to use some of it, I take it out of the freezer, unwrap it, and slice off a part of the log the size (# of ounces) I need for a recipe. Then rewrap the remainder of the log and put it back in the freezer. Simple. And I really think hanging the links, should you make them, is a bad idea for several reasons, not the least of which is that the links dry out and lose most moisture, becoming more like a Spanish chorizo. I like grease and moisture in my chorizo and, anyway, the moisture evaporates when you fry the chorizo—and if you fry moistureless chorizos you have to be careful because they can easily burn and/or harden if you don't watch them carefully..
Many thanks for the do-it-yourself encouragement and sharing your experience with specific DK recipes that you like and have success with , since her book, "The Art of Mexican Cooking", has several recipes for chorizo, and as I am not knowledgeable about what good chorizo is supposed to taste like, so it's a little intimidating to contemplate winging it on my own without an experienced palate.
DD, if you are planning a trip that takes you to or through Rosarito, let me know, I'd love it if we could get together!
re: Gypsy Jan
I much prefer the chorizo recipe in Diana's first cookbook ,The Cuisines of Mexico (© 1972). That cookbook, to me, includes the best of traditional Mexican regional cooking. Later cookbooks (and I have them all) featured increasingly complex and esoteric recipes that take a great deal of time and energy to prepare. This is a natural—perhaps inevitable—progression, the same thing happened to Marcella Hazan's Italian cookbooks.
I discovered I had the DK Chorizos Méxicanos recipe on my hard drive. I had sent it to a friend in Mazatlán. Here it is and you don't need anyone to hold your hand while preparing it, it's quite straightforward and not difficult at all:
Diana Kennedy's Chorizos Méxicanos (makes the equivalent of 21-24 links, or one large "log" if you don't want to bother stuffing them into links).
2 pounds pork tenderloin*
½ pound pork fat*
5 chiles ancho
2 chiles pasilla**
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
3 whole cloves
½ teaspoon peppercorns
½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2½ teaspoons salt
2/3 cup mild white vinegar
2 ounces vodka (That's right, vodka--not tequila!)
Finely grind (or chop) the pork and the pork fat.
Toast the chiles well. Turn them every now and then to prevent burning. While they're warm and still pliable, slit them open and remove and discard the seeds and the veins. (The toasted chiles become quite brittle as they cool off.)
Grind all the chiles and the spices together (easiest way is to use a blender).
Mix the ground spices and chiles with the rest of the ingredients.
In a large bowl thoroughly mix the pork and everything else (the spice rub) with your hands (your hands will wind up being very yellow and greasy).
Cover the bowl and let the chorizo mix season in the refrigerator for 3 days, stirring/mixing the chorizo thoroughly at least once a day.
After 3 days, fry a little bit of the chorizo to check to see if it has enough salt and seasoning.
If stuffing the chorizo mix, prick the resulting links all over to allow moisture to drip out. Hang the link "chain" in a cool, airy place for three days. (The chorizo links should be about 1 inch thick and 3 or so inches in length.) Store the links in the refrigerator or freeze them.
If not stuffing the chorizo mixture into links, manually shape it into a "log," tightly wrap it in wax paper (or plastic wrap) and store it in the refrigerator or freeze it. (I HIGHLY recommend this option.)
To cook the links, skin and crumble them and cook in a frying pan over low heat for about ten minutes until they are cooked through and the fat has rendered out. Stir the chorizo from time to time as it cooks.
To cook the "log," slice off the amount you want to use and cook it using the directions in the step above.
*DK recommends using pork tenderloin because, well, it's very tender. And the chorizo is cooked very briefly; using a cheaper cut of pork may mean you wind up with tough, hard to digest sausage. And the pork fat is necessary because pork tenderloin is very lean. Without the addition of pork fat the meat would be dried out when cooked. Sausages should be tender and juicy.
** Chile pasilla is a long (6 inches mas o menos), slender, dark brownish/black dried chile (a dried chile chilaca). Its name can vary from region to region in Mexico and the US southwest. I don't know what it's called in Mazatlán. It's sometimes called chile negro. In my neck of the woods (SF Bay Area) Mexican tiendas usually correctly call a pasilla a pasilla. In Baja California, New Mexico, and in the Oaxaca area a very different chile is sold as chile pasilla.
I hope you'll try to make it; you'll like it and will know immediately that it's "the real thing."
re: Gypsy Jan
Don't worry about what "good" chorizo is "supposed" to taste like. Good is what you like and the seasonings in chorizo can be changed to suit your tastes. If you don't like the first batch, figure out what you need more or less of and try it again :-). If you know how to work with dried chiles, you can make chorizo. The green chorizo in The Art of Mexican Cooking is outstanding.
It occured to me that you're not that far from Tijuana and I know you cross the border now and then. Next time you're in Tijuana, stop by the Mercado Hidalgo, I would be very surprised if there weren't multiple vendors selling chorizo. This may be your best bet. You could get a couple of links from several different vendors, try them and then decide which one(s) you like best. One of the best things about chorizo is that it freezes well, and if wrapped and sealed well, almost indefinitely.
A long time ago I dated a man who had a house in Cantamar. We spent many, many weekends there. It's been a good long time since I've spent much time in northern Baja, mostly because of the excess of partying tourists and the long, long border crossing. I'm thinking it may be time to start coming down again with more frequency. October - March is a great time to visit.
Yes, stuffing sausages is a PITA :-) and the Kitchenaide was no help at all. DK has this great little tool she uses that was specially made for her...and it's about as low-tech as you can get. While in the Yucatan she found a funnel that had a very wide (maybe about 3/4-1") neck. She simply had a welder cut out a quarter of the side and smooth off the rough edges. It's a snap the use, just slide the casing on and start pushing the meat through. Takes less than 15 minutes to stuff a whole recipes worth of chorizo...and I hate to admit to what it took with the da*n sausage stuffer attachment.
I tend to like my chorizo drier, but not as dry as a Spanish chorizo, so the hanging wasn't an issue, other than the visions of growing bacteria I had in my head <gg>. DK recommends letting it rest in the fridge for 3 days, stirring a couple times a day, if you don't want to stuff and hang it. I really like your idea for rolling it into a log, freezing and then cutting off only what you need. That makes a lot of sense.
of course these are questions of individual taste-i've been buying a packaged chorizo at Calimax that suits me and my needs. In the big store it is located between the dairy and the meet counter. its chorizo de res and what i like other than the taste is it comes in a flat rectangle and has no skin thus making it easy to use in many different ways. I'd tell you the name but im out just now.