Chorizo Fresco from Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain
I love to make things from scratch. Whether that be bread, cheese or meat I get great satisfaction making things that most people would only ever dream of buying from a supermarket. Last year I did a lot of cheese making, but it meant my meat making suffered. Both require a fridge to be kept at a similar temperature and humidity, however the cross contamination of the different moulds would be a disaster. With winter on it’s way in the Southern Hemispshere and my cheese supplies dwindling, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to make more meat. Sometimes the stars align and as I was planning my next meat making feat, a copy of a new cook book arrived in my inbox. Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain, by Jeffrey Weiss, is a beautiful new cookbook full of recipes for making meat and cooking with the end product.
Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain takes you on a journey through Spanish meat making. It talks about all aspects of the process and doesn’t shy away from discussing how the meat gets from the field to the butcher. Health and safety rules in Australia make it very difficult for me to get my hands on the raw ingredients for sausages like Morcilla but I thoroughly enjoyed reading all about it.
To ease myself back in gently I’ve started with fresh chorizo. I have made both fresh and dry cured chorizo before but I always make it to my taste, which is mild. I’m building up my chilli tolerance slowly, so I thought it was time to follow recipe quantities for the hot stuff and see what happens.
I had to make a couple of adaptations to the recipe as I couldn’t get my hands on all of the ingredients. Pork cheeks are a little tricky to source around here. Instead I used 40% pork belly and 60% pork neck. I also couldn’t buy a Spanish white wine so I used the dry white I had in my fridge. I have tried to find out an equivalent to Verdejo, but every website I found gave a different response ranging from Riesling, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc to an unoaked Chardonnay. All very different wines, so my vote went for the dry white I like and have in the fridge.
The recipe was clear and easy to follow and I was very pleased with the end result. I cooked the sausages and made a Spanish style butter bean and chorizo stew. The verdict? They were spicy, garlicky and full of the flavour of paprika. Very similar to the cured chorizo most people are more familiar with. And guess what? They weren’t too hot for my delicate palate. I think my chilli training is working!
3-4 loops or 6-8 links of sausage per 1kg (2.2 pounds)
Per 1kg (2.2 pounds) of the following blend of meats, cut into large cubes:
40% aguja (pork collar/neck)
40% panceta (pork belly)
20% papada (pork jowl/cheek)
20g (3/4 ounce) whole cloves garlic, peeled and destemmed 2%
25g (1 ounce) Kosher salt/non iodised salt 2.5%
50ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine such as a Verjedo, chilled
50ml (1/4 cup) water, chilled
10g (1/3 ounce) pimenton dulce (sweet, smoked paprika) 1%
10g (1/3 ounce) pimenton picante (hot, smoked paprika) 1%
2g (1/8 ounce) dried oregano 0.2%
45ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil, for frying
60cm (2 feet) of 32-36mm (1 1/4-1 1/2 inch) hog casings, soaked, or more as needed
Caul fat, as needed.
1. Place the aguja, panceta and papada meats and grinder parts in the freezer for 30 minutes to par-freeze before attempting to grind.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic and salt to form an ajosal. If desired, you can finish the ajosal in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the meats and ajosal. Toss together and set aside as you set up the grinder.
4. Fill a large bowl with ice, and place a smaller bowl inside the ice-filled bowl. Grind the meat mixture one through a medium-coarse (9.5 mm [3/8 inch]) die into the smaller bowl. Be careful: The meat is wet, so it may squirt and pop out of the grinder.
5. In a small mixing bowl, combine the wine, water, pimentones, and oregano, making a slurry. Keep the bowl containing the slurry chilled until ready to use.
6. Place the ground meats in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or you can just mix in a mixing bowl with a sturdy spoon.) Begin mixing on low speed. As the mixer runs, pour the wine slurry into the bowl in a steady stream.
7. Continue mixing on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the wine slurry has been fully incorporated into the mixture, a white residue forms on the sides of the bowl, and the mixture firms up. Place the bowl containing the ground meat mixture into the refrigerator to keep it cold until you are ready to stuff the sausage into casings.
8. To make a prueba, in a small skillet (frying pan) over medium high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place a small piece of the meat mixture in the skillet and fry for 3-4 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
To Ferment the Sausages:
1. If stuffing: stuff the mixture into the casings and tie into 30cm (12 inch) loops or 15cm (6 inch) links. Using a sterile pin or sausage pricker, prick each sausage several times. Place in the refrigerator to ferment overnight. (See notes.)
If not stuffing: Form the mixture into 226g (8 ounce) patties. Wrap in plastic wrap or caul fat, if using. Place in the refrigerator to ferment overnight. (See notes.)
To Cook the Sausages:
If stuffing: If you have stuffed the sausages into links or loops, warm the remaining oil in a large skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat and fry for 8-10 minutes, until they register an internal temperature of 65C (150F). You can also oven roast or grill the sausages at 180C (350F)for 20-25 minutes, until they reach the same internal temperature.
If not stuffing: Warm the remaining oil in a large skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat and fry the sausage patties for 8-10 minutes, until they register an internal temperature of 65C (150F).
Remove the sausages from the heat and serve.
Notes: Since the sausage will be cooked, you don’t need to be too concerned about the degree of acidulation (that’s the pH level – see Chapter 3 for more info). You are just looking to ferment the mixture for a little flavour.
You can ferment the sausages either before or after stuffing. It’s really a matter of preference, since the meat firms up during the fermentation process and makes the stuffing a little easier. On the other hand, it might be more efficient for you to make and stuff the sausages all in 1 day.