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Making Fresh Chorizo Sausage

Written By Culinary Pen on Sunday, October 6, 2013 | 7:49:00 AM

Chorizo is a unique sausage in that it is not often eaten on its own.  Usually it's not even stuffed into casings; it's just used loose and added to eggs, stuffed peppers, beans, or rice.  There's also a dry cured version that's a tapas essential, but that's a sausage to be discussed at a later time.  Fresh chorizo is very versatile, but I usually don't like most store-bought fresh chorizo.  It's either bland, paprika-dyed pork, or too hot and one dimensional.  It's never "just right." 
To make my own sausage, I started with a good, garlicky base of hot, fragrant zemo garlic from a local organic farm.  To the minced garlic I added smoked paprika, which is a classic addition to chorizo, both fresh and dry-cured.  Smoked paprika comes in mild and hot varieties.  I wanted to get a good smokey flavor, but not be killed by heat, so I opted for the mild.
For depth and some heat, I added dried ancho chilies, which are big, black glossy dried peppers (called poblanos when fresh).  Ancho peppers add a slightly fruity flavor, along with a savory heat, so you really get to round out the flavors of garlic, smoke, and heat with them.  Tasting a small sample, I added a bit of cayenne just to boost the heat slightly.  Cayenne's pretty neutral in flavor, so it just brought the heat up a bit to get your mouth tingling.
I packed my fresh chorizo into casings, as I do like the option to have them whole for serving.  The finish sausage is very rich, with an intense flavor that takes your mouth on a rolicking trip from the savory, salty pork, to the sweet aromatic peppers and paprika, ending on a spicy, garlicky finish that gets your mouth watering.
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