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Keeping the redness in North American chorizo


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#1 k145

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:57 PM

Hi. So I live in Los Angeles and go to visit my neighbors down south occasionally and for years, I've noticed a stark difference between the 2 chorizos.

So the chorizo in both the southwest USA and mexico is kept in a sausage casing until it is cooked, where it is taken out of the casing before doing so. However, I've noticed that the chorizo in the southwestern US turns brown when cooked while the chorizo I encounter in Mexico tends to keep its redness. So what's going on in Mexico?

#2 Ttogull

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 08:32 PM

So the chorizo in both the southwest USA and mexico is kept in a sausage casing until it is cooked, where it is taken out of the casing before doing so. However, I've noticed that the chorizo in the southwestern US turns brown when cooked while the chorizo I encounter in Mexico tends to keep its redness. So what's going on in Mexico?


Chorizo is different all over the world. Some places it is cured, and other places it is fresh. I am not aware of any special SW US chorizo, so I assume it could have been almost anything. Here in the NE US, chorizo by default is the Spanish version.

Mexican chorizo typically has vinegar. It also often uses the ancho chili pepper. The ancho chili pepper gives it it's redness. I make my own Mexican chorizo, and also use anchos in my chili con carne and other dishes. They are a beautiful red with sufficient amounts of anchos. I do not know why the other chorizo you had was brown. Paprika is a popular choice of pepper for other types, but I do not use it much and do not know if it does or does not retain its red color.

#3 gfweb

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:19 PM

K145 your observation is correct and I've wondered too. I suspect it it chilli pepper but don't know that for a fact.

Lots of variation in chorizo since it is just sausage in Spanish. The euro forms are smoked and resemble kielbasa. Mexican is a loose sausage w lots of garlic and chilli pepper.

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#4 heidih

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 10:18 PM

If the flavor is pretty much the same could it be the use of annatto (achoite) - the yellow of it would highlight the residual red from the chili. I find the red color is in the oil when I cook it so if I de-grease the really fatty stuff it goes more "brown". Still some brands are more red than others. I am also in Los Angeles

#5 heidih

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 10:28 PM

Adding to my earlier comment - I indulged in the Filipino version of chorizo today - longaniza -and the brilliant red is annato based

#6 Ttogull

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 10:29 PM

If the flavor is pretty much the same could it be the use of annatto (achoite) - the yellow of it would highlight the residual red from the chili. I find the red color is in the oil when I cook it so if I de-grease the really fatty stuff it goes more "brown". Still some brands are more red than others. I am also in Los Angeles


My initial thought was the same. After all, annatto is a natural coloring agent. This is something I know from trying to avoid artificial colors for my kid. IIRC, it gives cheddar its usual yellow color. BUT my Mexican chorizo is red, and I do not use annatto. I do not know of any recipes that call for annatto, but maybe I missed them.

Edit: ha ha, your update about the Filipino version appeared while I was typing.

Edited by Ttogull, 09 February 2013 - 10:31 PM.


#7 radtek

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:48 AM

It is ubiquitous here in S. Texas and definitely red. If one renders off the copious amounts of grease the chorizo remains red. I wouldn't put the makers of the commercial stuff above using red dye along with annato. This type of chorizo is a far cry from anything European and is meant almost solely for breakfast use while mixing with scrambled eggs. When I make my own chorizo- which is probably closer to a Spanish-style, lots of paprika is used and boy is that sausage red!

In fact I think a chorizo and egg taco is calling my name right now...

#8 mkayahara

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:09 AM

I've made Mexican chorizo using Bayless's recipe, and it stays brilliant red when cooked. No annatto in that one, but plenty of ancho chilies - way more than in some otherwise similar recipes I've seen.
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#9 Dignan

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:53 PM

I don't use chorizo a lot. But I've encountered it like a salami, and also loose only held together by the casing. Is that the "style" difference being discussed?

#10 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:47 PM

The Ecuadorian version calls for both red bell and aji peppers, but the redness of the sausage is definitely due to the anatto....
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#11 k145

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 05:00 PM

Let me clarify what I said before. I understand that chorizo is found all over the western world and that many are distinct from each other. The reason for my question is because I can't identify what the root of the difference (cosmetic, it seems) between 2 very similar types of chorizo is.

And the color to which I'm referring is the color of the chorizo when cooked. The chorizo in the SW US is red just as those in mexico but the color of the meat when cooked is different.

Both types of chorizo also use a lot of ancho chile and vinegar which are the 2 key ingredients (besides the pork obviously). I found that most of the vendors here in LA, SD, and even the Tijuana border also add pequin pepper. Never have I seen annatto listed as one of the ingredients in this region's chorizo though...

The SW US version comes out to a be very earthy brown while many times in Mexico, I've seen some retain their blood red color.

Oh and heidih, yes, the prepackaged chorizos that I see at stores in LA are made in California but when I check the ingredients list, they always have a food coloring and other additives so I don't find that to be a reliable source though they retain their redness as well...

Edited by k145, 10 February 2013 - 05:06 PM.