Home-Made Chorizo Tacos – Oh My!

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 have yet to actually use). Great plan, except for a few minor (yeah, right) flaws.

First, let’s start with the fact that I picked Daytona Sunday. 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. 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 Chorizo flavor. Oh – that explains why I sing the praises of good quality Chorizo – it takes time, lots of time, to mature. Making Chorizo in the morning to fry up that evening wasn’t happening – it’s a lot like making Lumpia – another recipe that takes days to reach the finished and ready to cook stage.

That’s okay, too. This posting will simply require several days to complete. We would still have our Home-Made Chorizo Tacos, just not on Sunday as originally planned. Since it doesn’t take long to cook up the Chorizo for the tacos, we could easily push the “eating” part further into the week.

And then there was the whole Hand Presses Corn tortilla thing. While the recipe seemed simple enough, just maybe I was biting off more than I could chew in one sitting. Maybe, just maybe to keep my sanity, I should consider “mastering” one before tacking the other. Time for a title change, folks. Chorizo first – hand pressed Corn Tortillas to be “conquered” 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 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.

I’ll see you all on the back side – once the chorizo has had ample time to mature . . .

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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
Cooking Spray

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.

Taco Garnishing
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.

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Seventy-two hours later – the moment of truth has arrived . . .

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. All day, all I could think about was the home-made Chorizo and the 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. Hubby added salsa. I had mine as intended – with cilantro, Queso Cotija cheese, a little sour cream and a squeeze of lime. I just might need to make up several batches to keep in the freezer for other Chorizo dishes – like Chorizo con Huevos.

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