I have used chorizo for several recipes in this blog; it is a well-known type of pork sausage, originally from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). When pigs were introduced to the New World, Mexican versions seasoned with peppers (capsicum) soon appeared, presenting an infinite variety of shades of orange, red, and even green, depending on the peppers and other seasonings used in their preparation. The texture may vary according to meat to fat ratios, how fine or coarse the meat is ground, and how long the sausages are left to cure. In Mexico, chorizo meat is usually packed as a chain of links, which may be so short as to be almost spherical, or shaped as regular sausages (about 3-4 inches in length), or even longer. A similar product known as longaniza is, in some instances, identical to chorizo, except for the shape, prepared as a single long piece packed in tripe, instead of being tied into shorter links. However, at least as I remember it in Mexico, longaniza was usually fresh (meaning diametrically opposite to dry), or cured for only a short time, and prepared with meat with a coarser grind than chorizo. For this recipe, either Mexican chorizo or longaniza may be used, whichever variety is the freshest (less cured). I have never seen longaniza in my area, but I am able to find both cured and fresh Mexican style chorizos, for example, the ones shown in the photo below; the one on the left is a slightly cured chorizo packed in plastic sleeves, whereas the one on the right is fresh and packed in tripe:
I have made this dish with both, and they both taste very nice; however, the cured chorizo tends to be stronger and heavier so, as I have mentioned, I would recommend the fresh variety if available.
UPDATE October 2020: I have compared store-bought chorizo vs longaniza in Mexico and developed my own recipes for Coahuila style chorizo (with vegan option) and Yucatan style longaniza back at home in Canada; please click on highlighted texts for full stories and recipes.
Mexican Sausage in Green Sauce with Paddle Cacti
– Longaniza en salsa verde con nopales
Ingredients (approximately 4 portions)
1 lb (454 g) Mexican fresh chorizo or longaniza sausage
1 lb (454 g) potatoes; scrubbed, peeled, cubed
1 cup water, or more, as needed
2 cups cooked green sauce; homemade (check my recipe) or bottled
2 cups cooked paddle cacti (nopales); rinsed, drained and cut into strips (homemade or canned)
Slice sausages into sections approximately one-inch long; if the casing is natural, leave it on, and if it is plastic, remove it carefully after slicing, to preserve the shape of the pieces:
In a large pan over medium heat, cook the sausage pieces, turning frequently (photo below, left); once they are browned on all sides, transfer to a plate and reserve. Add the potatoes to the pan (photo below, right):
Stir the potatoes and fry in the fat from the sausages until slightly crispy, then add a quarter cup of water to deglaze the pan, scrapping any bits from the bottom (photo below, left); add green sauce and stir to coat the potatoes (photo below, right):
Add the rest of the water, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender (photo below, left). Once the potatoes are tender, return the sausage to the pan, along with any liquid from the plate (photo below, right):
Stir, let simmer for five minutes, then add paddle cacti (nopales, photo below, left); stir gently to incorporate all the ingredients (photo below, right):
Add more water, if needed, and allow to simmer for at least another five minutes; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste (I did not use any, since the sausage, and my green sauce and nopales, were well seasoned already). Serve hot with corn tortillas:
My husband and I enjoyed generous portions for dinner, but this dish is very filling, and we had plenty of leftovers for another meal. Except for the cilantro and garlic in the green sauce, and the sausage, all the ingredients in this recipe were probably enjoyed in pre-Hispanic Mexico, including the potatoes, which had made their way up North to Mesoamerica from Peru since pre-Columbian times.
FUN FACT: My inspiration to share this dish came from Mexico’s coat of arms, which pictures the paddle cactus (nopal) and a snake being devoured by an eagle (see my previous post). In addition to the cacti, I thought the pieces of chorizo would be a fun reference to snake-shaped meat, which the Mexicas (Aztecs) apparently ate. However, as I learned while reading further, preparing snake meat (still eaten in Asia and Texas, amongst other places) requires skill, and there are many little bones which could make cooking and eating it quite cumbersome (and it does not taste like chicken, LOL). I guess I am very grateful for the fusion of European and Mesoamerican ingredients in this recipe.
And last, but not least, I am bringing my recipe to Thursday Favourite Things with Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Nina @ Vintage Mama’s Cottage, Marilyn @ Marilyn’s Treats, Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Angelina @ Petite Haus, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance, and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode