Sunday, December 6, 2009

Spanish chorizo and the year's final cheeses

Christmas is approaching at a frightening speed. I have to actually start doing something about preparing food for my cheese-eating guests who are due for lunch on the 20th. I'm not sure I've made these sausages in time - we'll see if they're dry enough in two weeks, if not it won't be the end of the world and I'll have something yummy to eat the week after. I hope. It's a bit experimental.

Spanish chorizo is my first attempt at a fermented dry sausage. The live cultures the recipe says to use are not available (as far as I can find anyway) in New Zealand. But I figure that people were making this sort of sausage for centuries before the discovery of bacteria, so hopefully they will pick up something useful from the atmosphere. And I added a dollop of yoghurt and a bit of mesophilic cheese culture for good luck - it can't do any harm.

Here's my 1.5 kg chopped pork plus a spoonful of glucose syrup and some yoghurt:

Here's the salt and spice mix; 35 g salt; a bit more than 1/2 tsp 6% sodium nitrite in salt; a bit more than 1/2 tsp 4% potassium nitrate in salt (curing salts are unavailable here too - I make my own); 1 tbsp smoked hot paprika; 1 tbsp powdered ancho chillies; 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper:

Here's the pork with the salts, spices, and garlic added:

And here are the finished sausages hanging up in the shower in my spare bathroom:

I put a bit of water into the tub under the shower and closed the door, hopefully that will keep the humidity high enough that the outsides won't dry too fast.

My last cheese of the year are three more Camemberts (shown here in their home-made drainpipe moulds):

And some feta:

The feta is now cut into four pieces, each of which is in a zip-lock bag of brine in the fridge.

That's it for cheese for the year; next weekend I'm visiting a friend to try out his new pizza oven, the weekend after that I have my cheese party, the weekend after that, well, I'll be recovering from eating too much at Christmas and then hopping on an aeroplane to go to Australia and the grandkids. I was talking to the elder one, Emily, yesterday on Skype. She had just been to see the Wiggles in concert and was sporting a very attractive, if somewhat bulky, Dorothy tail. She said, sounding very surprised, "I wanted to see Mickey Mouse, but he wasn't there"! She did tell me all about Murray, Jeff ("Wake up Jeff") , "Afony" and Sam though. And Wag the Dog and Henry the Octopus.


Spanish Chorizo (from Charcuterie)

2.25 kg pork shoulder
50 g kosher salt
1 tsp No 2 curing salt (that's the one with nitrite and nitrate in it)
2 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika
2 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp dextrose (that's glucose, and I used syrup rather than powder)
1/4 cup Bactoferm F-RM-52 live starter culture (this is where I used a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt and some mesophilic cheese culture and crossed my fingers)
1/4 cup distilled water (I used tap water because I'm not using it to hydrate bacteria)

10 feet of hog casings, soaked in tepid water for at least 30 mins and rinsed.

Combine pork with salt, curing salt, and dextrose. Grind through the large die on your mincer.
Dissolve Bactoferm in the distilled water and add it, along with the remaining ingredients, to the pork. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for about a minute to incorporate the ingredients.
Stuff the sausage into the hog casings and use string to tie into 12 inch/30 cm loops. Using a sterile needle, prick the casings all over to remove any air pockets and to facilitate drying.
Hang the sausage (ideally at 15°C with 60-70% humidity) until it feels completely stiff throughout and/or it's lost 30% of its weight, 18 to 20 days.

Yield: About 3 pounds/1.5 kg of sausage; 5 large rings.

Note: I started with 1.5 kg of pork, and scaled everything down accordingly. I made my sausages somewhat longer than 30 cm - more like 40 cm I think - and I still ended up with four of them. I'm hoping this means that NZ "hog casings" (we actually call pigs pigs, not hogs) are a bit skinnier than American ones, and hence will dry proportionately faster, making them edible by the 20th. Sausages in sheep casings are supposed to dry in a week, which gives me some hope.


  1. Seasons Greetings to you and happy holidays too!

    ?: how many pairs of shoes are you bringing along with you or you are bringing none cos you plan to shop for more??

    Hugs, Emily from Malaysia

  2. I can't take too much of anything because my 20kg luggage allowance will be mostly taken up with presents for the kids. Plus I'm expecting it to be very hot in Adelaide so I may well be running around in bare feet most of the time.

    Last time I went I brought shoes back though - we'll see how I go.

    I'll be putting up a few more posts before Christmas though.