Photo Courtesy of Bill Milne
Yield: 5-10 large chorizos
- Sausage stuffer (or wide-mouth funnel)
- Sausage pricker
- Electric mixer with a paddle attachment and a large bowl
- 4 hog bung ends (this is another kind of natural casing—larger and thicker, but not edible)
- 15 lbs (7 kg) lean pork shoulder or ham, trimmed of any sinew, silver skin, or nerves
- 5 lbs (2.3 kg) pork back fat
- 1/2 envelope of 1 starter culture of your choice
- 10 oz (283 g) spring water (Do not use tap water. The chlorine in municipal water supplies can kill the starter culture.)
- 9.6 oz (272 g) high-quality sea salt
- 1.6 oz (45 g) pink salt #2 (aka Prague powder #2)
- 7 oz (200 g) high-quality sweet Spanish paprika (pimenton dulce)
- 20 cloves garlic, chopped (1 per pound [454 g])
Size is really a matter of preference. If I’m going to put the work into making salamis at home, I like to make a variety—not all small, not all large, and not all the same. What does a bigger salami mean? In addition to lasting longer (because there is more of it), it will allow you to vary presentation techniques. It’s a little easier to slice on a slicer. Perhaps it’s a little more conventional on dishes like pizza and sandwiches. At Charlito’s Cocina, we make larger salamis for deli counters, sandwich shops, and chefs who request a larger size, arguing that there is less waste (with fewer end pieces) and they are easier to handle. And, aside from their efficient functionality, they look quite beautiful. They are less time-consuming to make when you are making high volumes. I encourage you to also try the other salami recipes in large format, following the procedure below. It’s worth it!
- Soak the casings overnight in cold water, at least once. The idea here is the get all the salt off them and make sure they are well-hydrated.
- Chop or grind the meat and the fat with a super-sharp knife or meat grinder, making sure to keep them very cold to avoid smearing, until the pieces are about 1/4" (6 mm) in diameter. For a finer texture, grind more finely. Using an inexpensive, manual grinder is my preference here.
- Mix the starter culture with the water. Stir with a spoon and set aside.
- With very clean hands, combine the sea salt, paprika, garlic, pink salt, and starter culture with the meat and gently massage everything into the mixture. Be careful not to overmix, and to keep the meat as cool as possible, so it doesn’t break down. Adding an ice cube or two to the mixture helps. You should be good to go when the pieces of fat just start to lose their shape, and the meat just begins to look stringy, after about 2 minutes of mixing.
- Set the meat mixture aside in a cold place to rest. Cover and let it rest anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.
- Right before you’re ready to stuff, run cold water through the casings, just to be certain you’ve removed all the salt.
- Using a sausage press with a 1" (2.5 cm) tube (avoid using a grinder/stuffer combination, a KitchenAid stuffer attachment, or anything with a drive mechanism, because that will smear the meat), load the casings inside out into the tube (so the smooth side is on the inside) and stuff into 12"–15" (30.5–38 cm) links, twisting each link. Make sure the meat is stuffed tightly into the casing, taking care not to break the casing. After twisting, tie off each link, making a loop at the end of each link for hanging.
- Using a sausage pricker, prick the casings to remove any air bubbles. This step is very important because it removes air bubbles in the salami that can lead to oxidation and rancidity, and allows moisture to escape during the drying process. Moisture trapped inside the salami can lead to spoilage and ruin your salami.
- Before hanging, your salamis should be wet. If they feel dry and it seems as if the casings might break, splash some water on them. The moisture will not only keep the casings from breaking, but it will also add humidity to your fermentation room, which is very important.
- Hang the salamis and ferment at 75–80°F (24–27°C) and 80–85 percent relative humidity (RH) for approximately 48 hours, making sure to leave space between the salamis so that they have consistent airflow.
- Transfer to the drying area and let cure for at least 50 days, or until desired hardness is achieved. At Charlito’s Cocina, we let these cure for 90 days, taking care to make sure that the drying room is kept humid (about 70 percent relative humidity). During this process, monitor the temperature and relative humidity, keeping them as consistent as possible. Make sure the curing box/room is dark and leave the salamis alone. Light can turn your fat rancid.
I cannot overstate the importance of using high-quality paprika in this recipe. If people tell you that paprika is only useful for it’s red color, they are wrong! Good paprika has an unbelievable aroma and flavor and will make all the difference in your chorizo
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Cover Courtesy of Sterling Publishing
Cured @2016 by Charles Wekselbaum, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co, Inc. Photography by Bill Milne.