It’s this blog’s fourth birthday, today.

I had planned to write a post about making my own chorizo. I want to do that because the only kind I can buy – even chose described as “soft” cooking chorizo, are little tubes of boot leather. Maybe this is some sort of macho Spanish bollocks (pretty much every Spanish sausage is cured, no matter how slightly, which makes them tough), I have no idea, but a sausage that takes more calories to chew than you probably get from it has a design fault.

I think the flavour is pretty damn good though, if I could just get away from the Iberian obsession with smoked paprika, bloody awful stuff, which I loathe. I like sweet paprika, even the stuff with a hint of heat, but smoked, no.

And so it seems that the only way to get chorizo to my specification is to make it myself. It’s not hard, just coarsely-minced fatty pork, with paprika and garlic, seasoned with a little salt and black pepper.

My normal two thirds should to one third belly pork with do, plus I have some extremely fatty panceta, which I’ve stripped of its fat and am rendering down for its lard, the meat from which will be added to the pork – no sense in wasting it.

As I said, I should be doing this – well – now, but too much pain seriously restricts the time I can spend on my feet right now, so it’ll have to wait for another day. The shoulder is good til the 19th, after that I’ll either have to bite the bullet and get on with it or consign the belly to the freezer – that’s longer-dated – and roast the shoulder. An idea that has its attractions as I haven’t had roast pork for decades.

In the meantime I’m doing something which allows for a lot of sitting down. A while back I bought several packs of meat to make Fabada Asturiana, which were pretty dire and moved me to make my own morcilla (Spanish blood sausage), not unlike our own black pudding, but it comes in many variants, the one I favoured being Morcilla de Burgos, a version made with cooked rice and sweetly-fried onions, from the Castillian town of  Burgos (that’s Castile & Leon, not Castile-La Mancha). That’s perfect for me, as the pork back fat essential for traditional black pudding, and some varieties of morcilla, is unobtainable, the trade sucking up the entire supply.

I appear to have digressed – anyhow, the fabada I made was, as I said, dire, the chorizo uneatable, the morcilla very dull with no detectable paprika, and the panceta way too fatty. So what I’m in the middle of, as I type, is rendering down the panceta fat, sliced thinly – about as thick as 1p coin – for its lard. It’s not remotely cost-effective of course, but it’s way too much flavour to throw away, and the crisp remnants (rock hard shards of meat studding succulent layers of crisp fat), that remain still have a huge amount of flavour, more than they started with, in fact, so they’ll be kept, frozen, for the next time I make my Fabada Wirraliana as, cooked long and slow in a stew, they soften nicely and yield up the flavour they have left. So while it’s not cost-effective in terms of fuel, I do get a double hit of flavour for my money – the deeply savoury lard, plus the leftovers.

This lard, by the way, is nothing like the lard you buy in the shops – that’s been refined to remove even the slightest hint of pig. I used to live near a lard producer (Peerless), and the flavour that I’m working to keep, went up their chimney. No idea what they did to it, but mine smells vastly better!

In addition, when I’m preparing the pork to become sausage meat, the skin has to be removed and, no matter how good you are with a knife, unless you have the skills of a brain surgeon, some fat is lost with the skin. That can be recovered in the oven and, if I’m really lucky, it’ll give me some pork scratchings as well.

Also not to be wasted is the chorizo from the fabada kit, as that’s extremely fatty and, treated in the same way as the panceta, is yielding a fair amount of scarlet, paprika-flavoured and coloured, fat.** I’ll have to store that separately, for use in dishes that have paprika but, again, it’s too much flavour to throw away. The crisped remains, sadly, are unlikely to be edible – we’ll see.

**Both the panceta and the chorizo yielded roughly the same amount of fat–- shows how fatty the chorizo is – about half an egg-cup full each. Not a lot, I can hear you saying, but that’s half an egg-cup each of the most intensely-flavoured lard you could wish for.

So, then, hopefully, in a day or two I’ll feel up to it and the chorizo will get made. Traditional chorizo is made with coarsely chopped pork and pork fat, which I think contributes largely to the texture I’m trying to avoid (I’ve just tried some of the thin slices I’ve rendered – fried leather!***), so it’ll be very coarsely minced, which will be finer that normal and, by lightening the texture more, either with cooked paella rice, which works so well in the morcilla, or with rusk from my own bread, I should get a chorizo that meets my personal requirements.

The recipe will, as usual, be posted here.

***Which is what I expected, bur it’s far too tasty to waste so I’m going to mince it as finely as possible (run it through several times on the finest setting), mix it with a little oil, form it into a sausage shape and freeze it. I’ll find something for it to flavour! The sausage shape will make it easy to cut pieces off.


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