Charcutepalooza #5 My Take on Mexican
This months challenge was grinding. I have to say I was mildly disappointed because the year of meat was about challenging myself and cooking out of my comfort zone and it was actually sausages that started all this off. I’ve been grinding my own meat and making my own sausages for more than a year now so there wasn’t as much motivation for this challenge as there was for the salting, brining and smoking.
But I signed up for a years worth of challenges, so I wasn’t going to not do this one because I’ve done it before. The first thing to do was think about how I could add an element of challenge to the task. The obvious way for me was to make sausages with natural casings. All of my sausages to date have been made with man made, collagen casings as that was what my local butcher sells. So off I went on my quest to find natural casings. This mission was also part of my pursuit to find a butcher that can regularly supply me with good quality, happy meat, so I tried another butcher in a different suburb and finally I found a butcher who didn’t think I was crazy for wanting to make my own sausages. Hudson Meats have a philosophy of ‘paddock to plate’ meat, so that they know where all of their meat comes from and it is all from a sustainable, well treated source. Hudson Meats were able to sell me two different widths of natural sausage casings and also the lamb and pork trimmings to go in to the sausages.
So my challenge this month was to make sausages with natural casing as opposed to the man-made casings I have used up until now. I decided on the Mexican Chorizo because I made a batch of fresh, Spanish Chorizo recently and I thought it would be good to compare the two.
The natural casings were much easier to handle than I thought, and the results were exceptional. I cannot believe it took more than a year to give it a go, and there is no looking back – it’s natural casings all the way from here on in. I loved the Spanish Chorizo, and the Mexican was different, but equally as good. With a kilo of Mexican Chorizo Sausages and the leftover meat that never quite goes through the machine, I had to work out what to do with them.
My initial thoughts on Mexican food is not an overly positive one. It’s never been in the forefront of my cooking experience and I blame my high school cookery teacher for that. In year 7 we had to choose a country to write a project about which culminated in cooking a dish from the country of origin. I chose Mexico for the brightly coloured travel agent brochures and a dream of one day visiting. My final dish was tacos and as I was cooking up the minced meat (not hand ground in 1991) Mrs. Jelly (yes that was really the name of my cookery teacher) came around to my station, stirred my beef and said it was too dry, so she tipped a cup full of water into it. On marking my taco dish, she marked me down because “Your minced beef is too sloppy Nichola”. Aged 11 I was devastated but I wasn’t brave enough to tell Mrs. Jelly it was her that had added the water and determined the sloppiness of my dish. I never liked cooking for the 3 years it was compulsory and dropped the subject the minute I had the choice.
So as you can see, when it came to what to do with Mexican sausage, I wasn’t immediately sure what to do, but I thought “Sod it, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy.” So on Friday night we had chicken and Chorizo fajitas.
I made some guacamole from an avocado; a handful of cherry tomatoes quartered and deseeded; some finely chopped red onion and chilli; a handful of chopped, fresh coriander; some lime juice to taste. This was spread on the tortillas with some sour cream and accompanied with some sliced, fried onion, chicken and chorizo and some roasted red pepper. Simple Friday night cooking, but done well, from scratch,much tastier than you can imagine. So, Mrs. Jelly, despite your best efforts, I am now a good cook, and I don’t need your advice to ‘improve’ my dish! And as for the sausage casings, it’s natural ALL the way.