Just like the Spanish accent is quite different from the Latin American accent, so is the case with Spanish vs. Mexican chorizo. Though named the same thing, the chorizo you’ll find in Spain (typically a hard, cured meat) is not what you’ll find in Mexico (a bulk sausage of sorts). This recipe is more of what you’d find in Mexico. Our tip is to always be clear on what kind of chorizo your recipe is calling for as it might make a difference (though both are incredibly tasty in our opinion). We sometimes enjoy breakfast for dinner, so some quick-cooking homemade chorizo along with some eggs makes for a speedy supper the whole family will eat.
SERVES 3 TO 4 / PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES / TOTAL TIME: 20 MINUTES
1 pound ground pork (see Notes)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chile powder (New Mexican, ancho, etc.)
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients, making sure to incorporate all the spices evenly throughout the meat. We find it easiest to use our hands. For the best flavor, we suggest refrigerating the mixture overnight to allow the flavors to combine. (Or freeze until ready to use.)
To cook chorizo patties:
Form the mixture into evenly sized patties. When hot, add the patties along with ½ cup water, cover, and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, turning every few minutes, until cooked through (time will depend on the thickness of your patties).
NOTES: To cook chorizo in bulk form: Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the chorizo, use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
Make sure your pork is not lean pork. If it is, you’ll want to add some fat to it—ideally about 2 tablespoons (at least) of some home-ground pork fat or some finely chopped bacon.
We know what you’re thinking: This big hunk of meat serves only 8 to 10 people? That seems preposterous! Here’s the thing: Pork butt (which is actually from the front quarters of the pig—not the derriere) cooks down by as much as 50 percent. Trust us: If you can get your hands on a bigger piece of meat, do it. You can never go wrong (in our opinion) with too much tender, falling-apart pork. This carnitas recipe is as close as we have gotten to the offering of a certain beloved “fast-casual” Mexican chain restaurant. Serve it over cauliflower rice, shredded cabbage, lettuce, grilled vegetables, and/or topped with pico de gallo and a dollop of guacamole to create your own burrito bowl.
SERVES 8 TO 10 / PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES / TOTAL TIME: 4 TO 8 HOURS IN A SLOW COOKER
5 to 6 pounds pork butt (shoulder), preferably bone-in
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons juniper berries
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1. Pat the pork dry with paper towels.
2. In a spice mill or small food processor, combine the salt, juniper berries, garlic powder, cumin, chipotle powder, and pepper and grind for 30 seconds or so, until you have an even mixture.
3. Coat the entire pork butt with the spice mixture and place it the slow cooker with the thyme and bay leaves placed on top (if your pork has a nice fat cap—and we hope it does!—place it fat cap up; see Note).
4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours, until the meat can be easily pulled apart with a fork.
5. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred (or use a knife to chop) and serve.
VARIATIONS: If you want to crisp up the pork in an authentic carnitas fashion, place it on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and cook under a high broiler until crispy.
Juice from an orange is a great flavor to add to the slow cooker. And while we particularly like the flavor juniper berries bring, if you can’t find them, feel free to omit them. The taste won’t be quite the same, but it will still be delicious.
NOTE: Don’t have a slow cooker? Bake it in the oven at 225°F for 8 hours in a Dutch oven (which helps retain moisture). You want the internal temperature to reach 195°F. Anything less than that and the meat won’t be fall-apart fork-tender.