Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lean Mexican-Style Chorizo

The first time I cooked Mexican chorizo at home, I was horrified. I opened up the casing, the contents glugged into the hot pan and started bubbling away, and I thought -- since it was sausage and sausage is generally a fattier food -- that it was at least 30% oil or some weird fat that rendered instantaneously. All of the chorizo and egg tacos I'd consumed in my past suddenly seemed... unseemly.

I now know that Mexican chorizo has a substantial amount of vinegar in it, which both flavors it and acts as a bacteria-killing preservative. Unlike Spanish chorizo, which is smoke-cured and sold at room temperature for slicing and serving as-is; Mexican chorizo is sold uncooked, refrigerated, and must be pan-fried into little crumbles before joining a given dish. Any place you might add bacon, you can add chorizo -- eggs, cooked greens, soups, salads, beans, etc. -- and because it's so heavily seasoned with garlic and onion and chiles and vinegar, you can even substitute a lean meat combination without diminishing its fantastic flavor.

Here JG pan-fried it with left-over rice and stirred in an egg at the end for chorizo-fried rice. It was tasty.

Recipe: Lean Mexican-Style Chorizo

This recipe can easily be doubled or halved, depending on your anticipated chorizo consumption. I ground my own meat because it's fun and economical, but both ground pork and turkey are pretty easy to come by these days. You can puree all of the spices together in a blender for a smoother sausage, but I like little onion chunks so I just stir it together. It's a good idea to let the flavors meld for at least 4 hours before cooking, but it certainly won't taste bad if you use it straight away.  I froze mine [raw] in an ice cube tray and then transferred the frozen cubes to a freezer bag so I can get out a chunk at a time for my weekend breakfast tacos.

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons ancho or New Mexican chile powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 lb ground lean pork [I ground a chunk of Boston butt, trimmed of fat]
1 lb ground turkey [I ground turkey thighs]

Combine vinegar and spices in a large bowl. Fold in ground meat and stir with a rubber spatula until it has a uniform consistency. Refrigerate for a few days or freeze for several months.


  1. That looks really good. i am not really into Mexican food but the tacos and the burritos just made me a Mexican-food lover. I wonder with what should I eat this with? Should I eat it with taco or a burrito or something?

  2. AnonymousMay 30, 2010

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  3. Hi Tim,
    I thought I'd responded earlier but it didn't seem to post. You can definitely use it in burritos or tacos, but you can also play around with it and use it where you might otherwise use ground beef or sausage, like on a pizza or in a quiche or casserole.