Chorizo casero

I always used to buy chorizo prepackaged or from the butcher because I thought it would be too hard to make at home. After months of wondering, I finally decided to delve in and give it a shot. The results were fantastic! Now that I know how incredibly easy it is to do on my own, I’ll think twice next time I reach for a package of chorizo in the grocery store.

A lot of people think of Spanish chorizo when they read chorizo in an ingredient list, and though Mexican chorizo is different, it’s equally delicious. Spanish chorizo is a hard sausage-like cured meat (think similar to a cured hard salami), and Mexican chorizo is a soft sausage-like meat, almost like a breakfast sausage patty if you broke it up into little bite-size pieces.

I love to use chorizo in a variety of ways: anything from breakfast dishes such as huevo con chorizo, to snacks such as queso fundido, to spicing up vegetables in dishes such as calabacitas rellenas. It’s also great as a topper to tostadas or sopes.

I used a blend of three chiles to make my chorizo slightly spicy and also some chopped onion and garlic to give it the right texture. The vinegar helps with giving the meat the signature crumble of Mexican chorizo.

Chorizo Casero | Homemade Chorizo

Chorizo Casero | Homemade Chorizo

My chorizo recipe was recommended by the New York Times Diner's Journal in December 2011.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 cups of water (for soaking the chiles)
  • 4 chile guajillo
  • 3 chile de arbol
  • 1 chile ancho
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 quarter-inch thick slice of white onion (one slice will go in food processor; other will be finely chopped)
  • 7 large garlic cloves (reserve 2 for later)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Nakano rice vinegar

Instructions

  1. Bring two cups of water to a boil and remove from heat. Tear off the chile stems and soak the chiles for at least an hour or until completely soft. When the chiles are soft, remove them from the water, drain, and discard all the water. Do not remove the seeds from the chiles.
  2. Place the chiles, oregano, salt, pepper, one quarter-inch thick slice of onion and five cloves of garlic into the food processor or blender. Run for 5-10 seconds. Add the apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar. Reseal top of food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture is a smooth paste.
  3. In a glass mixing bowl, add the ground pork and make a well in the middle of the meat. Add half of the chile mixture and gently work it into the meat. Add the second half and repeat.
  4. In the food processor add the two remaining garlic cloves and pulse a few times so that it's roughly chopped. Add to the meat and chile mixture.
  5. Finely chop the second quarter-inch thick slice of onion. Add to meat and mix well to incorporate.
  6. Transfer the chorizo to an airtight container or a plastic zippered bag and store in the refrigerator for four to six days. It needs that time to cure and for the seasoning to mellow out. If you eat it before curing it, it may taste too spicy or too salty, the garlic will be very potent and the vinegar will be strong. If you can bear to leave it alone for six days to cure, it's worth the wait.
  7. After a few days, some liquid will run off the meat, which is completely normal. You can dump it out when you notice it or you can leave it up until you're ready to cook the chorizo. Be sure to discard the liquid either way.
  8. When it's ready to be eaten, just heat a frying man over medium heat, add the chorizo and fry it up until it's crumbly and well-done. Drain over paper towels and use in your favorite dish.

Notes

You can refrigerate cooked or uncooked leftovers for a few days or freeze raw meat in an airtight container or plastic zippered bag for a few weeks.

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2011/12/chorizo-casera/
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Sopa de frijol negro con chipotle

Check out this fantastic and hearty black bean and chipotle chile soup I made this week. There are three reasons I love this recipe: First, you can make it in the blender—so it’s very easy to clean up afterward. Second, the whole recipe from prep to bowl can be made in 15 minutes or less! And last but not least, this recipe is very healthy—it’s low-fat and high in fiber. It makes a great first course if you divide into smaller portions, or with a little bolillo roll and butter, it can make an excellent and filling lunch or dinner.

black bean chipotle soup… 

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Chile chicken tacos in the slow-cooker

I’ve been working late into the evening recently so I decided to break out my slow cooker and put it to work for me! On top of the late nights, the brutal heat wave we’ve been having over the last few weeks has made me less than happy about spending time in the kitchen after a long day, especially if it involves heating up the oven or even the stove top for more than a few minutes because I don’t want to be any hotter.

This recipe for chicken tacos is great for a few reasons: it’s super easy to make, it takes very little effort to prepare and it can be used as a filling for three different dishes so if you make a little extra you can turn it into more than one meal.

It can be used just as a regular old taco filling, rolled and fried in a tortilla to make taquitos or even rolled and bathed in salsa and topped with cheese as enchiladas. The biggest bonus of all: It won’t heat up the kitchen…. 

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Calabacitas rellenas

Calabacitas rellenas: Grilled Mexican green squash, stuffed with chilaca chiles, chorizo and queso fresco. Get the recipe from theothersideofthetortilla.com.

One of the things I love most about the summer is grilling. It’s an opportunity to do all kinds of different things with meats and vegetables that I don’t get a chance to do during the rest of the year.

During the spring and summer, my local Mexican markets have a wider variety of produce which means endless combinations for creative dinners at my house. I’ve recently been craving calabacita, a zucchini-like squash that has lighter green speckled skin, and is also one of José’s favorites. As I was strolling through the aisles, I was trying to decide what to stuff them with and as soon as I saw chilaca chiles, I knew that was what I wanted.

They’re long and skinny with dark green skin, but you may recognize them better when they’re dried – known as chile pasilla. When fresh, they’re mild with a very subtle sweet flavor and you can char and peel them just the same way you do with a poblano.

This dish is a variation of one that José grew up eating and when I served it for dinner over the weekend, the first thing he said after taking a bite was, “sabe a mi casa.” To me, that’s the ultimate compliment.

TIPS: If you don’t have a grill or want to make this dish during other times of the year, you can also use a grill pan to cook the calabacitas. You can roast and sweat chilaca chiles in the same way you would with poblano chiles.

If you’ve never roasted chiles before, check out my tutorial on how to roast poblano chiles.

This dish can also be made vegetarian-friendly if you substitute soyrizo for the chorizo…. 

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CROCK-POT FRIJOLES DE OLLA

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I love, love, love the little community we’ve grown on our Facebook fan page. A week or two ago, I posted a question asking fans what their favorite Mexican recipes are that they’ve adapted for crock-pot cooking. Overwhelmed with the number of delicious suggestions, I decided to whip up a batch of slow-cooked frijoles as my final tribute to National Slow-Cooking Month. (Thanks to Tortilla fan Annette for giving us the basic cooking instructions she uses.)

The results were tremendous, so I recorded a video recipe to show you just how I did it. As we’re preparing for a blizzard here in Chicago this week, I’m glad to have leftovers of this hearty, warm bean dish that is great as a snack, a side dish, or a main dish…. 

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ENCHILADAS VERDES

Last month at my cooking show at the Kenmore Live Studio where I made chilaquiles, I talked about the versatility of salsa verde. I can think of about a dozen uses for this sauce just off the top of my head, so when I make it, I usually make extra so that I can get a few different meals out of it. One of my favorite things to make with salsa verde is enchiladas.

This recipe is so easy to make; great whether you need to feed just a few or a whole family. A few weeks ago, I made these enchiladas for my suegro and he ate three helpings! I laughed and asked him whether they were that good or if he was very hungry and as he was about to take another bite, he said “both!” These are also a favorite of José’s.

If you want to make these vegetarian, you can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth in the salsa and fill them with cheese instead of chicken.

RECETA:

ENCHILADAS VERDES

FOR SALSA VERDE

  • A little over 1 pound of small tomatillos, husked & thoroughly washed
  • 3-5 serrano chiles (depending how spicy you like it), stems cut off and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 slices of white onion
  • A pinch or two of salt to taste
  • 1-1 ¼ cup chicken broth or water

FOR THE ENCHILADAS

  • 3 cups shredded chicken (2 chicken breasts and some dark meat)
  • 6-7 oz (about ¾ cup) of shredded Chihuahua cheese
  • ½ cup crema Mexicana
  • A dozen corn tortillas
  • Some canola oil for frying the tortillas

To make the salsa:

First, husk and wash the tomatillos. Rinse them well in cool water.

Fill a pot with water (large enough to fit all the tomatillos) and bring to a boil. Put the tomatillos in and cook in the boiling water until the tomatillo flesh begins to get transparent. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos to a blender. Add the onion, garlic and salt. Cut the stems off the serrano chiles and cut each chile into a few pieces so they’re easily chopped in the blender.

Start by adding 2 chiles to the blender with about ¾ of a cup of water or chicken broth and blend on high until smooth and the chiles and tomatillos are completely incorporated. Taste the salsa to see if it’s too hot; if it needs more chile, add them one at a time, blending & tasting the result until you are happy with the level of heat from the chiles. If it seems the salsa is not quite liquid enough, add another ¼ cup of water or chicken broth. The salsa will reduce slightly when cooked.

Pour blender contents into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the salsa boils, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat.

For more on salsa verde, visit my original post on the topic.

You can either make a bone-in chicken breast from scratch or use a store-bought rotisserie chicken if you’re short on time. For bone-in chicken breast and chicken stock, you can just gently boil the chicken on the stove with a pinch or two of salt, a slice of onion and a small spring of cilantro or a few epazote leaves until the meat is cooked through. If you use a rotisserie chicken, buy one that’s low-sodium or barely seasoned. You can pour the juices from the container into a saucepan with a few cups of water and a chicken leg or two.

To make the enchiladas:

Preheat the oven to 350º F (177º C).

Heat a little bit of oil in a frying pan (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan) and lightly fry both sides of the tortilla. Each side will dome up when it’s ready to be turned. Drain on paper towels. Put a bit of the shredded chicken in the center of each tortilla and add a generous pinch of the shredded Chihuahua cheese. Roll them up and place seam-side down in a baking dish.

Spread the crema liberally over the top of the enchiladas and then ladle some salsa over them. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and heat in the oven at 350º for 8-10 minutes to heat through. Then move to the top rack and broil on low until the cheese is completely melted and bubbly, with some brown spots. Remove from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer enchiladas to plates and finish with some extra salsa on top.

Yields 12 enchiladas. There will be some leftover salsa.

  • How do you like your enchiladas?
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