The photo of freshly made chorizo the Accidental Locavore posted on Facebook, asked one of my (many) questions about making dried sausages in a small NYC apartment: ” Is this grounds for divorce, or everlasting love?” and showed the hanging chorizo drying in our wine cave. My fear was twofold. One, that it wouldn’t work, but more importantly, that my husband would see the project and think the odor of the chorizo would permeate the delicate bouquet of the wines…luckily neither happened. True confession time: he works steadily at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular from the beginning of November and is oblivious to almost everything, including ropes of sausages for the latest Charcutepalooza challenge, hanging from the wine racks.
My cleaning lady, thankfully, is not so oblivious. When she saw them hanging she was immediately curious and wanted to know all about them. Since they had been quietly drying for about two weeks, it seemed like the perfect time to pull them out for a tasting. I cut down a link and sliced it up. It had dried perfectly, no mold (good or bad), no mushy spots, just links looking exactly as they should. We tasted them and they were good, a little spicy with some nice, assertive garlic, and a little smoke taste — all-in-all a really nice dried sausage. Would I recognize it as chorizo? Probably not. Is that a bad thing? Yes and no.
Understand that I have an extremely high standard for chorizo. The best I’ve ever had was from a stall at the back off the main market, La Boqueria, in Barcelona. Part of its appeal was that we ate it in the car, driving the Costa Brava, towards France and I got to cut it with the new Leatherman tool, my husband had just bought me as a gift (slices chorizo like a dream), and part of it was that it was just great chorizo. Pimento-red with nice-sized chunks of meat and fat, well-spiced but not overwhelming…great taste and great texture…a chorizo that I still hold all others to.
One of the interesting things about making dried sausage, is that it’s such a crap-shoot. When you make fresh sausage and pâtés, you always cook up a little batch to check for taste. With the dried sausage, grind the meat, season and hope for the best. The next time I make chorizo (and yes, there is going to be a next time) it’s going to get more smoked paprika (the mild kind), more cayenne and possibly a little nutmeg (my cleaning lady’s suggestion…she made a lot of sausages and other preserved foods when she was living in Czechoslovakia, so I listen to her on matters like this).
Other than slicing it up and eating it, what did we do with it? Sliced up more and ate it. It made a couple of appearances at various Thanksgiving dinners, at my house with some homemade duck rilettes (more about them later) and at my friend Cozy’s in this gorgeous antipasto platter.