Dry Cured Spanish Chorizo

Dry Cured Spanish Chorizo

I really started this post two weeks ago. That's when I did the actual "sausage making" for the chorizo that was finally tasted tonight. After the confidence I gained by making pancetta, I figured it was time to get to dry-cured sausages, and since Spanish Chorizo was one of my favorites, I figured it was a good a place to start.

So I pulled out Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn and tackled the Chorizo. The sausage included 5 lbs of pork shoulder, salt, dextrose (a very fine sugar,) DQ Curing powder #2, a starter culture, garlic and lots of smoked paprika. In fact, I followed the published recipe to a tee except I used a little less garlic and significantly more sweet (not hot, my hubby isn't a fan of too much heat) smoked paprika. In truth, the beginning of making a dry cured sausage is the same as making a fresh sausage (except you add a few different ingredients. But after grinding the meat, combining with the spices and mixing the primary bind, you simply stuff the sausage into casings as usual. 

I got my husband to help me this second time, so stuffing was easier. I used hog casings, and tried to keep the sausages relatively slim so they'd dry a little easier. Then, you twist off your sausages and hang them to dry. I used my trusty meat fridge, monitoring the temperature and the humidity.

Chorizo, freshly made and placed in the fridge.
Chorizo after drying for 1 week.

Once it has been drying a while, you want to start weighing the sausages, comparing their weight to where they started. The goal is for them to lose 30 to 40% of their original weight. After just one week, my chorizo was at 77% of it's starting weight.

Accurate measurements are key, since you are deciding "doneness" by the percentage of weight lost.
By the end of week two, I was at 65%, ready to cut into and take a taste. The texture was a little softer than the chorizo I buy imported from Spain. This was more like salami/pepperoni. And the flavor? Lusciously smoky and porky. I had made it, a gorgeous dry cured sausage. The plan now is to make paella in the very near future using my chorizo and taste-testing it against my favorite store-bought imported brand. After this first taste though, I have decided to give the rest of the chorizo one more week of dry time. I'm hoping the extra week will make it more concentrated and give it that perfect chorizo dry texture.

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