Friday, September 2, 2016

Spanish Rice with Homemade Chorizo

Spanish Rice with NSA Homemade Chorizo
No apologies, no shame – My husband and I both love sausage. I especially love breakfast sausage, and he really likes Italian sausage. And we’ve been enjoying several varieties throughout our low sodium years. Usually I make up my own homemade salt-free spice mix. Seasoning one pound of meat at a time, and no links.

It’s really not a difficult process. I’ve got a great local butcher shop that sells the same ground pork they use for in-house sausage but completely unseasoned. It’s got the perfect grind and just the right amount of fat. So I buy five frozen 1-pound packages at a time. When I want sausage for something, I simply thaw a package and blend in seasonings. Sometimes I’ll make patties, but most of the time, I cook sausage crumbles to be used in soup, pizza, omelettes, burritos, Spanish rice – you name it.

Another favorite sausage is Mexican style chorizo, a spicy chili sausage flavored with tangy vinegar. Always loved the flavor but not too keen on the ingredients. Traditional chorizo includes salivary glands and lymph nodes. Not exactly my favorites. And the salt content is prohibitive. Way back when, I used to buy soy chorizo in order to get the taste I loved but without the offal. But, again, too much salt for use now.

While rummaging through some sausage recipes I had printed years ago, I came across three for chorizo. I combined elements from those and from examples online to come up with a workable recipe. I used it in one of my favorite applications for sausage –– Spanish rice.
In the Pan and Ready to Serve
My husband is in charge of making rice in our rice cooker. He uses brown rice and NSA chicken broth/stock for the liquid. He makes a full pot, so I always have leftover cooked rice, and Spanish rice makes a great one-dish meal. I don’t really care for a strong tomato presence in Spanish rice, so I’ll often just dissolve a bit of tomato powder in some chicken broth to add to the leftover rice while heating it up. Or sometime just a chopped tomato or two, depending on size. For me, Spanish rice always includes chopped onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes (if using), along with minced garlic. All sauteed in olive oil. Add some cumin, a handful or two of frozen corn, some cooked rice, and whatever cooked meat desired.

The homemade chorizo made this last batch of Spanish rice outstanding! Better than plain ground beef, or even taco flavored beef. Better than sliced chicken. There was something about the combination of chili and vinegar that set this Spanish rice apart from any others I had cooked before. And the lack of salt wasn't even noticed. I happily realized I could enjoy chorizo without strange meat parts and also without salt. A true win-win! So here’s to a future filled with chorizo omelettes, scrambles, burritos, Spanish rice, country potatoes, breakfast casseroles, lentil soups, hominy grits, pinto beans, tacos, tostadas, and who knows what else.

Mexican Style Chorizo
(Printable Recipe)

1 lb. Ground meat (pork, turkey, or beef)
1 tbsp. Ground mild chili (ancho or California)
1 tbsp. Paprika (mild, hot, smoked, or combo)
⅛ tsp. Ground cloves
¼ tsp. Ground black pepper
½ tsp. Ground coriander
½ tsp. Crushed Oregano
½ tsp. Ground cumin
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. Vinegar
Whisk spices together in a small bowl. Add spices and vinegar to ground meat and mix until everything is evenly and thoroughly combined. (I put on vinyl gloves and use my hands to knead the mixture) Cover and refrigerate to blend flavors. At least 30 minutes; up to two hours.

Note: This sausage is better as crumbles and doesn't lend itself to patties due to the extra moisture added by the vinegar.

Making Sausage in my Trusty Plastic Blue Bowl

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