Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Homemade Chorizo Mexican Sausage + Beef Tamale Filling

America's Test Chicken consists of two separate chickens, each with her own take on this cooking thing. Check out Chicken One's related blog, A Travel for Taste where she shares travel stories and recipes collected whenever she ventures abroad. And give Chicken Two's new, also-related blog, Poop from the Coop a read. There you can find stories about her personal adventure re-experiencing the kitchen after many years away. Please join our Facebook group to share your own recipes, kitchen practices and know-how. We are also on Pinterest and Instagram.
The complete recipes appear at the end of this post.

From Chicken One:
Chorizo Sausage 
In keeping with the Mexican food theme we are following these days, I made homemade chorizo, which is a pork sausage. Now, if you research the word "chorizo" at all online, you'll find so many variations it will make your head spin! There are Spanish, Portuguese and Mexican varieties; European types use lots of paprika where Mexican types use mainly chili peppers; you can find it in casings or not; it can be cured, smoked or cooked; you get the idea.

Although all my cookbooks and thousands of websites have slightly different recipes, I started with a recipe from a wonderful new cookbook, The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen by Shannon Bard.

I got to use four types of dried chili pepper (from upper left clockwise in the photo): ancho, guajillo, chipotle and de árbol:
I'm slowly learning the differences among chilis by using them. I learned so far (without looking it up) that anchos are dried poblanos and very mild; chipotles are smoked jalepeños; and de árbols will hurt you if you're not careful because they are so hot!

I bought these dried in the local supermarket, which has a great international aisle. They must be rehydrated in boiling water for a half hour or so; I used some small dishes to keep them submerged:
The directions are easy to follow. Here the combined ingredients cook.I've noted before that Mexican cuisine is so similar to Indian cuisine, and the chili peppers and processing are very much alike. In addition, toasting whole spices then grinding them is also similar. I did that with the chorizo spices as well: 
Then I put the rehydrated chilis, spice mixture, chopped garlic and salt in a food processor:
This all got ground to a paste:
Then, I just incorporated it into some ground pork.
Viola! Chorizo!

You're supposed to age it in the fridge overnight or for a couple of days, but I fried some up after about an hour to go with the tortillas we made just to try it out. It was good, but I have some things I'd recommend for the next time:
1. use fattier pork - it was a little dry and I had to  add cooking oil to the skillet to cook it, a travesty for sausage!
2. use much more of the hot chilis because I like my chorizo spicy; this was very, very mild

In any case, making chorizo was much easier than I expected - and I WILL be making my own sausage from now on. Can't wait to try breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, etc. 

From Chicken Two:
Chipotle Beef Tamale Filling 

I've had a lot of fun exploring Mexican recipes, but mostly it's been fun exploring the markets filled with spices and food I've never used before.  For this recipe, I actually bought the beef from a mexican butcher near me who, it seems, spoke no English. Talk about putting my rudimentary  Spanish to the test!
The directions are easy to follow. Here the combined ingredients cook.
..and reduced to a smooth sauce in the blender before returning it to the skillet.

Cook the meat in the broth and remove it to a cutting board. Using two forks, pull the meat apart.
Add the vinegar to the sauce with salt, pepper and sugar to taste, add the meat and toss.

Serve with the tamales.

Couple of hints: Make sure your food processor is tight and in place properly. It will leak otherwise. Also, be sure to cool the meat before trying to pull it apart. It's quite hot and is easier to handle when cooler.



Mexican Chorizo Recipe
5 whole peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons (5 g) paprika
2 teaspoons (10 g) salt
2 dried ancho chilis
1 dried guajillo chili
1 dried chipotle chili 
1 dried chili de árbol
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons (45 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 pound (450 g) fatty pork, coarsely ground

Grind the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, paprika and salt in a spice grinder and grind to a powder.

Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chili peppers. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and press the chilis into the skillet with a utensil to dry roast them on each side. Place dry-roasted chilis in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Place a small plate on top to keep them submerged. Let stand 30 minutes til completely rehydrated.

Combine spice mixture, rehydrated chilis, garlic and vinegar in a food processor and process into a paste. 

Mix paste and pork thoroughly together with a wooden spoon or your hands. 

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to marry.Cook

Chipotle Beef Tamale Filling Recipe
4 dried anchos chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp miced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar, plus extra as needed
3/4 cup ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Salt and Pepper
3 cups beef broth
1 3/4 pounds top blade steaks, trimmed
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1.  Toast anchos in skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently until fragrant. 2-6 minutes and transfer fo bowl.
2. Heat oil in skillet and add onion and cook until softened. Stir in garlic, chipotle, oregano, sugar, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, 1 tsp salt, and toasted chiles and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in broth and simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Transer mixture to blender and process until smooth, about 20 seconds, return to skillet.
3. Season beef with salt and pepper, nestle into skillet, and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until beef is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Transfer beef to carving board and let cool slightly. Using 2 forks, shred beef into small pieces. Stir vinegar into sauce and season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Toss shredded beef with 1 cup sauce. Reheat remaining sauce and serve with tamales.

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