After preparing a National Taco Day list for my previous post, I realized that I have not talked about chorizo tacos. To make the taco itself, the recipe is just a simple assembly of a generous amount of fried Mexican chorizo in a warm tortilla, topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cilantro (as pictured at the top of this post.) The real merit comes from starting from scratch with a batch of homemade chorizo.
In Spain, chorizo is usually a fermented, cured, and smoked pork sausage, which may be sliced and eaten without cooking, traditionally seasoned with paprika and a blend of other spices. Less common, Spanish chorizo might sometimes be fresco – fresh, in which case it needs to be cooked before consumption. In contrast, Mexican chorizos are mostly fresh, or partially cured, and need to be cooked before eating. Vinegar is always used, both as a condiment but more importantly, as a natural preservative; as for other seasonings, each region in Mexico has its own recipe, or often, several. For Northern Mexico recipes, and most specifically for those from the state of Coahuila, my mom always said that the defining ingredients were ancho peppers and cumin; she also always kept it lean by omitting lard from the ingredient list, choosing to compensate by frying the chorizo with a little oil instead.
For this recipe, I am following all her teachings, and supplementing the seasonings with guajillo peppers and other spices. By omitting the lard, I have also been able to develop a vegan option, by making a portion of the recipe with plant-based ground Beyond Meat™:
The plant-plant based product has been designed to substitute raw ground meat. The package contained .75 lb (340 g), whereas the package of ground pork on the right, weighed 1.3 lb (607 g) so, together, they were very close to the two pounds required for this recipe.
Coahuila Style Chorizo (with vegan option) –
Chorizo Estilo Coahuila (con opción vegana)
2 lb (1 kg) ground pork, or plant-based ground meat substitute
5 ancho peppers; wiped clean
2 guajillo peppers; wiped clean
1 cup apple cider vinegar
5 cloves garlic; peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp dry oregano
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp coarse salt, such as Kosher
Remove stems and seeds from peppers (photo below, left, from left to right: ancho and guajillo). In a small pot over high heat, bring vinegar to boil and add peppers (photo below, right):
Allow to cook for one minute, then remove pot from heat and allow peppers to soak for ten to fifteen more minutes, as the vinegar cools down.
Place garlic, spices and salt in a blender jar; add peppers and half a cup of the soaking vinegar (photo below, left); blend for one minute to obtain a smooth paste (photo below, right):
Place ground meat (or substitute) in a non-reactive container (photo below, in my case, plant-based on the left, and pork on the right):
Add reserved paste (in my case, I divided between the two batches, approximately 40% and 60%, since the plant-based batch was smaller):
Very thoroughly mix together using two spatulas, or wear food-grade gloves. The meat (or substitute) will start catching a reddish colour from the paste; keep mixing, breaking into small clumps, until the mix is uniformly coloured :
At this point, the preparation may be formed into sausages using tripe or soy-based casing, but may also be left loose. In this case, cover the container(s) with cheese cloth, securing with an elastic band or string:
Store the fresh chorizo(s) in the refrigerator at least overnight, to allow all the flavours to meld. It should keep well in the fridge for up to three days. It also freezes well, in a sealed container or freezer bag.
After one day, I uncovered my vegan and pork chorizos; they looked and smelled very similar, and I would have had to study them closely to tell them apart, if I had not known that the vegan batch was smaller. I cooked some from each batch, in separate pans; as mentioned before, one or two tablespoons of oil must be added to the pan since no extra fat was added during preparation. Both chorizos, the vegan (photo below left) and the pork (photo below, right), fried really nicely:
The spicy seasonings filled my kitchen with the same gaiety of fiery scents as when my mom cooked her Coahuila style chorizo. Fully cooked, it was – again – hard to tell the two chorizos apart (vegan on the left):
The flavour and texture were also remarkably close, both delicious and as good as any chorizo bought at a market in Mexico (and certainly better than some sold in Canada, LOL).
Either chorizo goes well in tacos (also pictured at the top of this post):
In this case, either corn or wheat tortillas will work wonderfully, and in addition to the fried chorizo and fresh veggies, a nice scoop of guacamole will provide the perfect finish for this taco.
I felt very accomplished when my idea of using plant-based ground product resulted in such a tasty chorizo, but of course, the concept of ingredients other than pork in Mexican chorizo has been around for a while. In Mexico, it is possible to find turkey (pavo), soy (soya). and even tuna (atún) chorizo, packed in synthetic casing:
I am sharing my recipe at Thursday Favourite Things #460, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.