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"REAL" Basque Chorizo

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 


After having made several successful batches of traditional Polish kielbasa (my wife’s family are Polish), I decided to investigate some sausage recipes that would reflect MY own Basque heritage.


I have made a number of ‘Basque-style’ dishes before, but never looked into the ‘tube-meats.’ However, that was to change.

Last weekend while at Lake Tahoe, a friend who knew I was making sausages at home, asked me if I made any ‘Basque’ sausages yet. I naively told him I wasn’t aware of any particularly ‘basque-style’ sausage.

So we wander into a local butcher shop to pick up some nice steaks and I see a magazine in a rack (“Edible Reno-Tahoe”) with a cover depicting…(what else?)…Basque chorizo! Produced locally at a Basque deli in Carson City, Nevada.


Cover of the magazine I have showing a batch of Basque chorizo:




A trip to that deli ensued & I met one of the sausage makers. I sampled the chorizo. Great stuff—not surprisingly, it is much closer to the fresh Spanish-style versus the Mexican chorizo: peppery, garlicky; some were sweet while others quite hot(!). We spoke for a while and he generously shared with me the ingredients he uses in his popular chorizo recipe. They crank out over 200lbs of this stuff weekly. Some of the ingredients may be hard to get, I was told, but if I was serious about making it ‘authentic,' and the REAL DEAL, it was worth the effort.


Once I had my ingredients list, I was off & running.


Pork & beef mixture.

Here's 5 pounds of pork butt and 1 pound of beef chuck, well-chilled (near-frozen) & ready to grind:



Other key ingredients included:


Espelette pepper (Basque: Ezpeletako biperra) — “the beloved chile pepper of the Basque country.” A variety of pepper that is cultivated & dried traditionally in the northern territory of the Basque people. Flakey ground dry red pepper; Mildly sweet at first taste with a bit of a kick afterwards.



Choricero red pepper —a red pepper utilized in cooking and making of sausages like chorizo. The ‘pimiento choricero’ is typically sold dried. To use it, it must be rehydrated over the course of a few hours, and then the flesh is scraped out. It is also sold in glass jars as a paste. Finding dry choriceros was next to impossible, but I did locate jars of the ‘paste.’



Here's the rest of the ingredients. I acquired some nice Sweet Spanish paprika (preferred) but a good Hungarian sweet would do just as well, I was told. Fresh Garlic, Red wine, Black pepper (tellicherry variety preferred), Kosher salt, Sugar, Pinch of nutmeg or allspice ‘to taste’ and Cure#1 (if smoking— which I plan to, although the cure is not pictured below:



Added all the ingredients to the ground meat (4.5mm plate), including the pink Cure#1:



All mixed & ready to go:



I'm letting this sit overnight as I have other obligations to attend to so the stuffing & smoking will have to wait until tomorrow. I did fry up a small piece to test the overall flavor. It needed a bit more salt & a touch more sugar to offset the bit of paprika 'bitterness', but the flavor I was after ('red-peppery, garlicky, bit of heat') was pretty much there. The smoking will, I believe, only enhance the final product.


To be continued.....biggrin.gif








post #2 of 59

Absolutely love it & Ive been to Espellete ! No joke spent a week on the  French side of Basque country back in 92. St John d pi por ,Esterauncuby(??) ,St John d Luze, & Espellete. Good food, ham ,chorizo & Brebis cheese. Lovely people have some great & funny memories.

Cant wait for your progress.

post #3 of 59

Now that is something that perks my interest. I will be watching this one for sure.

post #4 of 59

That sounds like a very tasty version...I realize the Butcher may have taken you in to his confidence, but I have to ask, on behalf of the rest of us Foodies, do you have permission to share the Specific Quantities in the Recipe?...JJ

post #5 of 59
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Chef JimmyJ View Post

That sounds like a very tasty version...I realize the Butcher may have taken you in to his confidence, but I have to ask, on behalf of the rest of us Foodies, do you have permission to share the Specific Quantities in the Recipe?...JJ

Chef JJ, when I spoke with the butcher, he listed the ingredients but no real specific nor exact quantities. What I did was take his list and matched them up best I could to a published recipe I came across for basque chorizo by Bruce Aidell. Adjustments made to taste. Slight variation on Bruce's with ingredients being more native to the Basque region. Once I finish 'tweaking,' I'll post the amounts I used and my impressions how they compare to the fine product the Basque butcher makes.



post #6 of 59

You are onto something really good! Can't wait for a smoking sequel and money shots.





post #7 of 59


Now that sausage looks awesome I would really like to try some tho. I bet it will be good

post #8 of 59

looks like a good start!

post #9 of 59

Love the color Kevin, looking forward to seeing the finished sausage.

post #10 of 59

Wonderful looking so far -- I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product!

post #11 of 59

awesome start.  

post #12 of 59

Very nice !!!!

post #13 of 59

That looks an awful lot like my Basco friend in Fresno makes.  He dries his rather than smoking.  His meat is a little more coarse.  Looks great from here.


I agree, that sweet Spanish paprika is great stuff!


I had no idea you were Basco!  LOL


Good luck and good smoking.

post #14 of 59
Originally Posted by SmokinAl View Post

Love the color Kevin, looking forward to seeing the finished sausage.

Ditto........ looking good





post #15 of 59
Thread Starter 

5:00am.....Got an early start this morning and began the stuffing process. Using 30-32mm natural pork casings.

Six pounds ready for the smoker:



6:45am: Managed to dangle the load over two dowels, trying to keeping 'touching' to a minimum. I couldn't find any more dowels as they've mysteriously wandered off—so I made do with the two.No smoke for the first hour—just 130° temp to dry them a bit...



Used my A-maze-n smoker with 2.5 lanes of maple dust. I wanted something 'light' so as not to overwhelm the sausage flavor. Kind of silly of me, really, considering all the spices in the chorizo...


10:00 am After two hours of smoke, took a peek...



3:30pm — I finally hit the IT after 7.5 hours so its time to pull the chorizo....



Bloom time. I had some weird twist and 'curls' on some due to my chorizo-wrangling on the dowels. The color came out nice—that dark, rich mahogany red.

They''ll cool & bloom here for about an hour...



Sample time!

Although they turned out not as spicy as the samples I had in Carson City, this is still a very tasty chorizo. Nothing like the Mexican variety.

Plenty of garlic with a strong 'red peppery' bite. NOT hot—which I was concerned about using the espelette pepper for the first time. More importantly, my wife  and boys really liked it.

It would go great with eggs, or in a good paella. Heck I might even get some good crusty bread & make a tasty sandwich with some!








post #16 of 59

You nailed it.439.gif Certainly looks as good as anything out the Portuguese butcher shop near me & they have been doing them for 2 generations in this country alone.

post #17 of 59
Loos great. Good Job.
post #18 of 59

Looks great to me?


Finer grind than some.


This is the real deal from Europe.  Almost no relation the the vinegar laden Mexican chorizo we like with our eggs!


Good luck and good smoking.

post #19 of 59

Looks awesome, and no doubt it tastes great. Well done.


Perhaps next time try 8mm plate for coarser texture. I did my first chorizos with 8mm, then second batch with 12mm. I liked the second batch better, but I guess it is personal choice. If you like it fine textured, then all is good.


Also did you rapidly cool them down with cold shower when taken out from smoker? That helps to keep them looking less wrinkly. Eventually they will wrinkle as they naturally lose the moisture, but for a while they stay nice and plump.

post #20 of 59

Great open shot Kevin.........Man that looks tasty.........beercheer.gif



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