Buried deep in my recipe collection was a recipe for home-made Chorizo tacos served on hand pressed corn tortillas. I’ve always wanted to make Chorizo from scratch, constantly singing the praises of good-quality Chorizo Sausage. Finally, I decided to put myself to the test – tacking the whole aspect of “home-made” everything. So I put this recipe on my weekly planner for a nice Sunday dinner, envisioning Hubby, Kiddo and I puttering in the kitchen together to make the sausage and frying it up in a cast iron skillet that evening for dinner. I’d even dig out my tortilla press (something I’ve had for years and had yet to actually use). Great plan, except for a few minor (yeah, right) flaws.
First, let’s start with the fact that the first time around, I picked Daytona Sunday to make the chorizo. What on earth was I thinking! Kiddo and Hubby were going to be glued to the boob-tube – big race and all. So there would be no help in the kitchen. That’s okay, more puttering time for me since I’m not much of a race fan. One hurdle down. Then I carefully read the recipe – the Chorizo Sausage had to be made two or three days in advance, left to sit in the refrigerator while all the wonderful chilies melded together into the ground pork for that wonderful authentic Chorizo flavor. Oh – that explains why I sing the praises of good quality Chorizo – it takes time, lots of time, for all those wonderful flavors to mature. Making Chorizo from scratch is a lot like making Lumpia (Filipino Egg Rolls) – another awesome dish that takes days to reach the finished, ready to cook up stage. Not something you decide to serve up on a whim.
That’s okay, too. We would still have our Home-Made Chorizo Tacos, just not as originally planned. It just meant I would need to find the time that was more convenient to make the Chorizo meat. As for the tacos, those wouldn’t take long to make. It was just a matter of timing. No big deal.
Then there was the whole Hand-Pressed Corn Tortilla thing. While the recipe for the tortillas seemed simple enough, I began to think I had bitten off more than I could chew in one sitting. Maybe, just maybe to keep my sanity, I needed to consider “mastering” one segment of the recipe before tackling the other. Since the Chorizo was the main goal, it made sense to tackle it first. The conquest of the Corn Tortilla would just need to wait for another day.
Right off the bat, I was concerned that the final Chorizo was going to be way too sizzling hot – the amount of seeds from the chilies was through the roof! Add to that the flavor of the cumin, cider vinegar and tequila, we are talking oh so out of this world packed with flavor. It really doesn’t take much time to mix everything together – waiting for the dried chilies to re-hydrate was the longest step in the process time-wise, about 10 minutes. The recipe said to put everything into an air-tight container and let it sit to mature. The thought of all those spices sitting in a Tupperware container made me shiver. Would I need to label the container “for chorizo only” once I was done? Rather than risk it, I used a freezer storage bag, sealed well with all the air forced out. Into the fridge it goes.
Home-Made Chorizo Tacos
3 large dried Chile Negro Pods
4 smaller dried Pasilla-Ancho Chile Pods
1/2 Cup Boiling Water
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons tequila
3 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 lbs lean ground pork
Heat a large dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add chilies; toast, turning often, until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from pan and let cool.
Using kitchen scissors and working over a medium bowl, cut chilies into 1″ rings, reserving seeds and discarding stems. Cover with 1/2 cup hot water; let soak, stirring occasionally, until chilies are soft and pliable, about 10 minutes.
Place the re-hydrated chilies together with the liquid and seeds into a food processor fitted with a blade. Give chilies a few quick pulses to begin the “liquidation” process. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, black pepper, brown sugar, vinegar, tequila, and salt, and process until the mixture is smooth.
Place ground pork in the bowl of a sturdy stand-up mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour chili mixture over pork and gently mix into the meat. When almost mixed, remove from mixture and finish “kneading” by hand. (Gloves would not be a bad idea as the mixture may tint your hands orange – the voice of experience speaking!) DO NOT overwork the meat.
Place chorizo into an airtight container. Let mature in refrigerator 48-72 hours before using.
To Cook Chorizo for Tacos: Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook chorizo until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Let chorizo begin to brown before breaking apart with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Continue to break apart as the sausage cooks. Drain and keep warm until tortillas are ready to fill.
Ingredients – Soft Shell
12 Corn Tortillas
Heat a flat griddle over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Lightly spray both sides of corn tortilla and quick fry to soften shell. Stack in a shallow dish or tortilla dish and repeat until all the tortillas are soft-fried.
1 Bunch Cilantro, Chopped
2 Limes, cut into wedges
1 Cup Mexican Crumble Cheese such as Queso Fresco (a spongy cheese made of cow and goat’s milk) or Queso Cotija (a goat cheese similar to Feta)
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
Chop cilantro, leaving a few leaves whole for garnish at presentation. Slice lime wedges, set aside. Crumble Mexican cheese, set aside. Place sour cream into a bowl with a spoon for easy of spreading. When ready to serve, pass the garnishings at the table. Fill shells as desired. Squeeze a little lime juice over tacos once assembled.
Seventy-two hours later – the moment of truth has arrived . . .
The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. On the day we finally had our tacos, all I could think about was my home-made Chorizo and the delicious tacos I was going to make. Would the meat be too spicy? What would my guys think? Had we grown so accustom to commercially prepared Chorizo (however “good” the quality be) that we would find the flavor of home-made Chorizo strange? The sausage wasn’t difficult to make, but what would the final taco be like? My head was spinning – so many questions . . .
Oh my stars! So flavorful. Spicy without being overly spicy or too hot. Kiddo still managed to add jalapeno peppers to his tacos. Hubby added salsa. I had mine as intended – with cilantro, Queso Cotija cheese, a little sour cream and a squeeze of lime. Next time I just might need to make up several batches of chorizo to keep in the freezer for other yummy dishes – like Chorizo con Huevos.