This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was one of the easiest yet, but I put it off until the last-minute. The large, old-timey meat grinder that I had borrowed intimidated me, but the grinding process was so much easier and more rewarding than I imagined. You toss in the cubes of meat, turn the crank, and within minutes you have fresh, homemade sausage. I kept the meat very cold, but I didn’t bother with the whole metal bowl and ice thing. I don’t even have a metal bowl. And I didn’t die after eating my sausage, so I think everything is fine.
I chose to make Mexican chorizo for this challenge. The only appropriate cut Richardson Farms had available was “pork stew meat.” It seemed a little too lean to me, so I lobbed off a piece of pork belly that I had stashed away for bacon or pancetta making purposes. I tossed all of the chunks of meat with chili powder, cayenne pepper, hot smoked paprika, fresh garlic, cumin, cinnamon, a little ginger, black pepper, and fresh marjoram and serrano peppers from the garden.
Chorizo always makes an excellent taco filling. I love preparing it using the traditional Mexican method of adding shredded potato and a little onion to the sausage to make it go further. Then I brown everything up nicely in the skillet. My favorite accompaniment is a salad of grilled nopales cactus with poblano peppers, white onion, cilantro and lime.
Cactus Salad (Nopaliches)
4 nopales paddles, stripped of thorns and sliced into strips
2 poblano peppers, roasted and sliced into strips
1 white onion, sliced into thin rings
½ cup cilantro, minced
juice of 3 limes
Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and toss in the onion. After 5 minutes, add the nopales and cook 5 minutes longer. Turn off the heat, and drain the water from the vegetables. Place the blanched onion and nopales in a bowl and add the roasted poblano pepper strips along with the cilantro. Add the lime juice, salt to taste, and toss the vegetables to coat them evenly. Serve the nopaliches wrapped in warmed corn tortillas. Mexican cream, queso fresco, hot sauce, and chorizo also make a nice addition.