Posted on May 13, 2012
Chorizo is a big deal here in South Texas. The regional version is a more laid back sausage than its Spanish ancestor, but it packs a punch. Although it comes in a casing, it is usually cooked like a ground meat broken up, and quite greasy. Unlike Spanish chorizo, it is not cured or dried. It is a common breakfast food served mixed in with scrambled eggs, or with refried beans in a flour tortilla, or with breakfast potatoes on the side. It adds a spicy vinegary flavor, and is usually deep orange-red and full of chili powder, cumin, and garlic.
Tlacuache loves the chorizo from the San Manuel chorizo factory on I-37 South (between San Antonio and McAllen). He says he prefers it because of the smooth texture– the lack of gristle or other tough little bits. I suppose I value this too in a sausage, but I didn’t realize there was so much bad sausage that this was an issue.
Chorizo Verde is not really a South Texas thing– it is popular in some parts of Mexico, but not here. However, a few months ago I bought some chorizo verde from a charcuterie stand at the farmers market. It was rustic (not in a tough bits kind of way) and refreshing, wrapped in butcher paper, but with no casing. Since then, I don’t think I can go back to factory-made chorizo. The chartcuterie unexpectedly went out of business, despite their mad popularity. Fast forward to last week when I got a discount off my order from Greenlings, and stocked up on local veggies and meats.
Even though all the recipes I read called for a fatty cut of pork butt for this, I took two giant 2-inch thick pork chops, and removed all the meat and fat from the bones that I could. I think what is more important than the cut of the pork is the quality of it. (Although I wouldn’t use an extra lean pork tenderloin.) This pork is local pastured pork from Richardson farms. Rule of thumb is that it should be firm and a nice deep pink, not too pale or soft. You can use a meat grinder for this recipe, but I actually used a food processor and it worked fine.
I ate this all by itself on warm white corn tortillas I made, with a dollop of sour cream and a little cilantro. Some of the ingredients are essential– serranos, cilantro, onion, garlic– but some you can tweak to your liking. I prefer a little allspice or nutmeg, and plenty of coriander. I also like to use white wine instead of vinegar. The chives were a chance addition– needing to be used up and adding to the verde.
I scooped this into individual portions onto parchment paper, then wrapped them and froze them for later use.
1 pound pork chop or butt
1/2 white onion, diced
2 serrano chiles, seeds removed, minced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt
3 tablespoons white vinegar or white wine
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Process the meat a few seconds in the food processor. Add everything except the cilantro, and process about ten seconds. Transfer the sausage to a bowl, and use a wooden spoon to stir in the chopped cilantro until thoroughly combined. Scoop into portions for patties, or crumble loosely into an oiled frying pan and cook on medium-high until browned and firm.