Chorizo sausage is a great idea on paper, but it’s often a lousy idea in plastic. You’d think Mexican (or Spanish) spices and ground pork would be hard to mess up. Yet every time I bite into the grease-laden, second-class meat product from a plastic wrapper that passes for chorizo at my local supermarket, the maker finds new and exciting ways to disappoint me. That’s part of the reason I got my mitts on a Cabela’s Pro Series motorized meat grinder. The other was so I can make my own pepperoni, Christmas breakfast sausage, and ground bacon burgers, but that’s at least two other stories.
You can buy the grinder on the company website. When it arrived at my house, I was giddier than an elected official with a hot young intern. The unit comes with three different-sized grinding dies (metal plates with holes in them), takes ten minutes to assemble, and goes through four pounds of diced pork butt in about two minutes. It’s also an awesome way to get back at your annoying neighbors—the motor is a far cry from quiet. Seeing as I’m surrounded by jackasses in my neighborhood, all of that’s the good news.
The bad comes when you clean the moving parts. Breaking it down was easy (untwist that, unscrew this, rinse, repeat). You need to wash the tray and its connecting parts right after you use the grinder and dry them by hand to prevent the metal pieces from rusting. Unless you like the taste of lockjaw. In that case, you do what you have to do, tough guy.
Tips for Grinding Your Own Sausage
- Dice whatever your grinding up into chunks a little smaller than the diameter of the hole you’ll be shoving your meat into (yes, we know, she said that too). Connective tissue has a way of gumming up the works. Some of the complaints on the company website said the motor burned out easily. I’m guessing when you’re grinding a whole deer in one sitting and you’re lazy about the connective tissue, the motor burns out really, really fast.
- Chill the diced meat before grinding. Preferably, it should be cold when you start. Your grinder will have an easier time cutting it.
- You’ll also want to set the catching bowl in ice underneath the die. That keeps the ground sausage cool enough to maintain the right consistency.
Grilled Pasilla Peppers with Stuffed with Chorizo, Pepper Jack Cheese, and Guacamole
The sausage recipe for this is one I found in Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. I tweaked their version a little bit with the habanero peppers. It’s the first thing I made in my grinder, and everyone agreed it was the best chorizo they’d ever tasted. Of course, when you’re used to the one made from pig unmentionables and vintage motor oil filtered through an aged gym sock, anything is an improvement.
Patty-Style Habanero Chorizo
3.5-4 pounds diced boneless pork shoulder
1-3 finely chopped or minced habanero peppers (stems and guts removed; keep seeds for extra heat)
2 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon paprika or hot paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper or chipotle powder (preferred)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon of cumin
3 tablespoons chilled tequila
3 tablespoons chilled red wine vinegar
Combine everything except the tequila and vinegar. Toss it to distribute the spices, then chill it until you’re ready to grind. Grind the mixture through the small die into a bowl set in ice. When that’s complete, mix in the vinegar and tequila into the ground meat using either a really sturdy spoon or a hand mixer with a paddle attachment. You know you’re done when the sausage has uniform color and a sticky consistency. It should take one minute on medium speed. Set aside two pounds for the stuffed peppers. Do whatever you want with the rest. Just bear in mind that this stuff is long on yummy, short on preservatives. Store it in your fridge or freezer appropriately if you don’t use it right away. I wouldn’t keep it in the freezer more than month or so, but I had a bad experience with some bad hamburger in college, so I’m psycho about freshness in my dead animals.
4 pasilla peppers, halved lengthwise and gutted
8 slices of Pepper Jack cheese
1 1/2 to 2 cups of guacamole
Heat your grill up to medium hot. Wrap two pounds of the chorizo in foil for grilling. Place the pepper halves inside-down on the grate. Cover, then check every 6 minutes until the color changes to a more olive green. Check the chorizo while you’re looking at the peppers. If it cooks faster than the pasillas, move the sausage to indirect heat to keep it warm while the peppers finish.
Flip the peppers over and repeat the process. Move them to indirect heat, fill them with scoops of the cooked sausage, then place a slice of cheese atop each one. Shut the lid and let the peppers be just long enough for the cheese to melt. Put them on a plate and top them with little dollops (or heaps, your choice) of guacamole.
Heat Scale: Medium
Serves: 4-8 (but if you only make one per person, you’re a pretty cruel human being)
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The Habanero Chorizo recipe sounds yummy. Making your own chorizo sounds even more appealing as some Websites suggest that commercial chorizo may also contain salivary glands and lymph nodes.
What’s really wonderful about grinding your own sausage is that you have total control over the process. You know exactly what cut of meat went into it and you can tailor the sausage to your individual taste like a fine suit. If you look on the label for some store-bought chorizos, it will have salivary glands and lymph nodes listed in the ingredients.