Smile Politely

Easy chorizo

Each Halloween my neighborhood gets somewhere between 200 and 300 trick or treaters. After the craziness ends, we chase the chill by inviting some neighbors and any friends we’ve conned into passing out candy for Mexican food.

Over the years, we’ve served chile rellenos and chicken mole. But this year, we opted for things that could take care of themselves in the crockpot and in the oven: chile verde, black beans, and Rick Bayless’ pork tinga.

Unfortunately I didn’t read Bayless’ recipe thoroughly and discovered at the last minute that I needed fresh Mexican chorizo. Not feeling like running to the store, let alone running to the store to buy mystery meat, I looked for a recipe online.

Though there are dry versions, most Mexican chorizo is fresh. And, unlike Spanish chorizo which can by spicy or mild, Mexican chorizo is invariably spiced with chiles.

Most of the recipes I found were for large quantities, five pounds and more. They used everything from homemade guajillo chile paste to cayenne powder. Since making guajillo paste would also require going to the store, I opted to go with a combination of ground chipotle and cayenne.

I broke with tradition by going with white wine for acidity instead of vinegar which is more typical of Mexican chorizo. Since Bayless’ tinga recipe called for Worcestershire sauce and I was using some slightly under ripe tomatoes in addition to canned, roasted ones, I didn’t want to go overboard on acidity. However, you could easily substitute a mild cider vinegar.

The recipes I found online also used everything from pork butt to pork loin. The former is fatty and ideal for sausage, the latter is too lean and a waste of money. As the resulting sausage was going to be part of a stew, I grabbed a pound of Moore Family Farm pastured pork. I figured it had enough fat for flavor, but not so much that I would have to spend inordinate amounts of time skimming the final dish.

The recipe I came up with doesn’t require a meat grinder or a stand mixer with a sausage attachment, just ordinary kitchen tools. If you are not sure about the amount of chiles, start with half the amount and fry some test portions as you go. The allspice and coriander are optional, but round out the flavor nicely, especially if you are using cider vinegar.

Even though the recipe only makes a pound of bulk chorizo, you will still have enough to flavor a tinga and have plenty for the next day to fry with eggs and potatoes or to melt with cheese and eat with tortillas.


  • 1 pound good quality lean ground pork
  • 3 T plus 1 t white wine
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 t Kosher salt (use half as much sea or table salt)
  • 1 3/4 t paprika
  • 1/2 t ground cayenne
  • 1/2 t ground chipotle
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t Mexican oregano
  • Rounded 1/8 t black pepper


  • 1/4 t ground coriander
  • 1/4 t ground allspice

Mix together and refrigerate at least one hour before using. Overnight is best.

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