I've been wanting to make chouriço from scratch for some time (along with making a hard cheese, which I tackled about a month ago and am patiently waiting to sample the next wedge of). A post on Michael Ruhlman's blog prompted me to pursue both of these, and while I wasn't able to get to either over the summer, I've finally gotten around to both of them this fall.
Chouriço is a slightly-spicy Portuguese sausage that's very popular among the Luso-American population in southeastern Massachusetts, where I grew up. In trying to find a recipe for this, it seems that there are dozens of variations, at least. It's similar, but not identical, to chorizo. Growing up, I saw chouriço (and it's less-spicy, more garlicky cousin linguiça) used as a pizza topping, served cooked with green peppers, stewed in wine, ground up and mixed with tomato sauce for spaghetti, or served “bombeiro”-style atop burning liquor. My wife likes to use the ground filling, mixed with cheese and dough and baked into little puffs as an appetizer.
5 1/2 lb. pork shoulder (Boston butt)
1/2 lb. uncured pork fat (back fat if you can find it)
40 grams kosher salt
14 grams dextrose
9 grams DQ Cure #2
50 grams sweet paprika
7 grams garlic powder
5 grams cayenne pepper
4 grams ground black pepper
4 tbl ruby Port
(I buy my dextrose and the cure from bucher-packer.com. My local supermarkets all carry hog casings.)
Cut half of the pork shoulder into cubes between 1/4" and 1/2" in size. Grind the other half through the large plate on a meat grinder, and the fat through the small plate. I find it works best to work with well-chilled meat and fat, bordering on frozen, for the stuff going through the grinder, and you'll need to work to keep the mixture cold so the fat doesn't start to melt on you.
Sprinkle the dextrose, salt, and cure over the meat and mix with your clean hands, then let sit for 15-20 minutes to let them dissolve into the meat a bit. Add the other spices and the Port, put into a zip-top bag or a covered bowl, and let marinate at least overnight in the refrigerator.
When ready to stuff, test the spices by frying up a small portion of the filling (you might want a little more cayenne or garlic, depending on your tastes). Soak your hog casings in 3-4 changes of cool water to get rid of the salt they're packed in, then rinse the insides of the casings with warm water (just let the water run all the way through the casing). Stuff the casings with the pork mixture, tie into links of whatever size you like–anywhere from 6"-10" seems pretty typical. Leave the sausages to incubate at room temperature (about 70°F) for 48 hours.
Finally, cold-smoke* the sausages for 4 hours, and refrigerate or freeze to store. Since this is cold-smoked, the pork is still raw, so cook the sausages as you would other fresh sausages to serve.
Alternately, if you don’t want to stuff the sausages into casings, you can substitute smoked paprika for the sweet paprika, and just form the sausage into patties after it’s done marinating. Less authentic, still tasty.
Makes about 14 8" sausages.
I shot these outside, in the late afternoon, to take advantage of the natural light.
Note: if you’re buying bone-in pork shoulder, remember that you’re looking for 5 1/2 pounds of meat once it’s off the bone.
*While I have a smoker, it’s not designed as a cold-smoker. I was able to make a very inexpensive, and surprisingly effective, cold smoke generator to use in my smoker with the technique in this YouTube video. One $8 soldering iron (new, so as to be solder-free) later, problem solved. Just remember that almost all cans these days used to pack food are coated with plastic on the interior, so burn that layer off on a grill or in a fire (I used a propane torch). Hardwood smoke good; plastic smoke not so much.