Cured Spanish Chorizo

Author: Marthinus Strydom
Category: Curing & Smoking
Serves/Qty: 1
Marthinus Strydom

If you think of Spain, you think of Jamon, Tapas, Paella and of course, Chorizo! This cured pork sausage is world famous and rightfully so. It's full of flavor and a staple food in my house.

The Story

Spanish chorizo is known for its rich red colour and tangy, smoky flavour, equally delicious eaten in slices as tapas or used in cooking to give wonderful depth to a bean stew or egg dish. Chorizo in its present form has only been enjoyed in Spain for the last few centuries, as its main flavouring spice, pimentón, or smoked Spanish paprika, was introduced to Spain in the sixteenth century from the Americas by the explorers and conquistadors.

Pink Curing Salt or Salpeter?

This is a cured sausage, but I don't ever eat my cured sausages raw, unless I used Pink Curing Salt or Salpeter. Remember that Pink Curing Salt or salpeter must be used in moderation. Use a maximim of 0.2% of the total weight of your sausage filling. If you are going to cook the sausage then there is really no need fo curing salt. 

Where should I hang my sausages?

I find the very best place is in the guest shower. It has the perfect humidity and out of direct sunlight. You can cure in the basement. Just make sure you hang the sausages away from any odors. It's for this reason that I don't like using the garage. The smell of gasoline, oil or diesel will permeate the sausage and spoil it.

You want to cure in 10-15ºC with 65-80% humidity range. This will be ideal.

What about mold?

Ihere is a simple rule. White mould is ok, anything else is bad. If you do get mould, don't panick. Take a tablespoon of vinegar witha tablespoon of water and wipe the sausages to get rig of the mould. If it's black or green mould, then rather dump the sausages. Too risky keeping them.

When is my dry cured homemade Spanish chorizo ready?

After it has lost around 35% of its initial weight, it should be safe to eat. That’s why it’s a good idea to weight your chorizo before hanging it up to dry. I like mine in the later, dryer stages, so I rarely weigh it anymore. I check on the chorizo by squeezing it, waiting for it to feel firm to the touch before cutting into it.

More about Spain

Spain, a country on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, includes 17 autonomous regions with diverse geography and cultures. Capital city Madrid is home to the Royal Palace and Prado museum, housing works by European masters. Segovia has a medieval castle (the Alcázar) and an intact Roman aqueduct. Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, is defined by Antoni Gaudí’s whimsical modernist landmarks like the Sagrada Família church.

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Ingredients
Adjust Quanities

800 g pork mince
200 g pork fat
7 g pimentón de la vera (smoked spanish paprika)
2 cloves garlic
17 g salt
2½ g curing salt optional, for dry cured variety
1 dash white wine optional
2½ m pork casings (your butcher can do it for you)

Method

  • You can buy pork mince from the butcher if you don't want to grind your own meat. Grind the meat and fat with a meat grinder. I have found that freezing the fat for a little while before running it through the grinder helps keep it in tact while mixing it together with the rest of the pork. While I like to use the best quality meat I can find, especially for this sort of project, you can use scraps of meats that aren't normally chosen for roasting as a way to save money. (You may be able to find unpopular cuts of a quality, organic pork for the same price as the more popular cuts of a conventional one.)
  • Add the pimentón de la Vera, salt, garlic, and optionally .5g of potassium nitrate or 2.5g pink curing salt to the meat, and gently mix the ingredients together. You want the spice and the fat to be evenly dispersed throughout the meat, but don't want it to get mashed together into a paste.
  • Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, and leave in the fridge overnight for the flavors to meld together.
  • You can now either stuff the casings yourself, of you can take your filling to a buther and they will stuff it for you.

If you do the stuffing yourself

  • If using salted pork casings, let them soak in water for around an hour, or however long specified by the packaging. Fully rinse the casings both inside and out.
  • Pull the casings over the nozzle of a sausage stuffer. I have tried several methods of stuffing the sausages. The sausage attachments on both my meat grinder and my pasta maker were pretty much useless in getting a nice sausage with the fat pieces evenly dispersed throughout the meat. Instead, they mashed everything together in such a way that you couldn't tell what was meat and what was fat. In the picture you can see that I also tried a gelatin casing one of the times. It broke easily, and was a lot more difficult to work with, so I probably would never use it again.
  • Pull a small amount of the casing off the nozzle and tie the end with a small knot.
  • Slowly and carefully press the meat through to the casing, easing off the casing, as needed, while you fill it.
  • Stop when you have reached the desired size sausage, and tie off the end, cutting off any excess casing. Chorizo can be found both as shorter, straight pieces or as a longer piece with the ends brought together for easier hanging. (See my pictures above for both types.)
  • Continue with the process until you have used up all of the meat filling.
  • Check your sausages for any large air gaps, and prick the casing in those areas with a sterilized needle. Ease any air out of the sausage through the pinhole.
  • If you want to eat the chorizo fresh, you are finished, and can either pan fry the chorizo until fully cooked, or cook it on the grill.

Curing

  • To dry cure the chorizo, tie a cotton cord around the ends and hang it in a cool, dry place for several weeks.
  • Ideally, you should weigh each chorizo before you hang it so you can monitor your progress. Technically, it should be safe to eat when it has lost 35% of its initial weight. I find that the chorizo gets better as it dries out more, and let it dry for much longer.
  • Slice your homemade Spanish chorizo, and enjoy it! You can either eat it with the casing on, or peel them off before eating.

chorizo curing sausage spain