Back Away from the Chorizo

I like chorizo. I’ve had it in fajitas, burritos, chili, appetizers, and omelettes. Spicy pork? Yes, please.

The local grocery stores sometimes stock fresh-ground chorizo, but more often than they just have your standard country pork sausage or Italian sausage. As a result, I finally decided to pick up a tube of this stuff:

Pork Chorizo

Pork? Not so much.

That soylent orange color? Yeah, pretty accurate, unlike the lies the fast food giants like to tell us.

I got the package out to make an omelette this morning. The instructions say to “remove from casing” before cooking. Apparently they meant the packaging, because there was no casing around this pasty muck, near as I could tell. I squeezed it out into the pan and tried to ignore the funky lumps as I attempted to crumble it for cooking.

After a few minutes over heat, I noticed no change in color or consistency. Meats are supposed to brown, right?

Time to look at the packaging again. “Cook to an internal temperature of 160°.” They don’t seem to care how. Okay, the stuff is sizzling and parts are starting to look a little crispy. Gotta be done.

Still bright, nuclear orange. Hmm. Are we sure this is pork? To the ingredients!

Yes, first ingredient is pork. But then came the dreaded parentheses. What, pray tell, pork products are included?

“Salivary glands, lymph nodes, and fat (cheeks).”

Back up, Mr Butcher Man! I don’t even know what salivary glands and lymph nodes look like! A series of tubes you just chop up and spice to hide all hint of flavor? I understand you want to use as much of the animal as possible, but is this really necessary anymore? We’re not all Andrew Zimmern or Bear Grylls. You know why? Because we’re not paid to be!

But hey, I can be adventurous. Is this how it was done back in the day? Maybe it’s like pig’s feet or haggis, a remnant from a time people really did have to find a way to eat every bit of an animal to get a meal. Maybe this is what I’ve been eating all along at Mexican restaurants and just didn’t know it. Ignorance is bliss, right?

So I poured in my beaten eggs, cooked it up, flipped, added cheese, and slid it onto the plate.

Understand, chorizo is greasy. Just like any other sausage or fatty meat, you’re going to get some runoff. This stuff took it to a whole new level by leaving a liquid even brighter and more orange than the original product.

Okay, okay, thought I. Let’s not panic. It’s wrapped in egg and cheese. Man the hell up and take a bite.

I tried. I really did. I even had myself psyched up enough I expected a pleasant surprise. Sadly, this tasted nothing like the stuff I got in the local Mexican joints, nor was it anywhere near as tasty as the ground chorizo I bought from the grocery stores. Maybe it was just the thought of the ingredients getting to me, right? Took another bite. Now that it didn’t catch me by surprise, is it really all that bad?

Yes.

Okay, one more bite.

No. No, no, and hell no. Just plain wrong. Into the garbage can.

Just to be sure, I consulted Wikipedia for a second opinion. The chorizo article has a history of the meat from several countries, but nowhere does it mention goddamn salivary glands. From the “Mexican chorizo” portion:

Based on the uncooked Spanish chorizo fresco, the Mexican versions of chorizo are made from fatty pork (however, beef, venison, kosher, and even vegan versions are known). The meat is usually ground (minced) rather than chopped, and different seasonings are used.

Fatty pork. Like where the bacon comes from, perhaps? Or at least somewhere where there is actual meat, not just leftovers. It’s no wonder the taste and texture of the stuff I’ve been eating is completely different from this spicy sludge.

Learn from my pain, my friends.

Next to the pork chorizo I bought is a tube of beef chorizo. I haven’t gone back to see what it’s made of, yet, but I can’t imagine it’s any better.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

8 comments

  1. I checked back today to see if you’re still among the living after ingesting only a few bites of this mush. I was pleasantly surprised to see you are Ok and have made a few more posts to the blog since that faithful day. God speed, my brother. God speed. :P

  2. Mrs. Scales says:

    Is the brand you bought the brand in the picture? Because I love chorizo! However, I have learned that the flavor varies on the brand.

    • Mike says:

      Yep, that’s the stuff. I’ve seen it at Walmart and Kroger (aka Smith’s, I think) stores.

      I like chorizo, too, but the stuff from restaurants I’ve been to isn’t anything like this stuff. I’ve since found some fresh-ground at a local butcher that was terrific. A friend of mine also grinds her own from pork shoulder.

  3. [...] covered supermarket chorizo in the past, so I’m going to focus on hot dogs and smoked sausage instead. The running gag [...]

  4. Kevin says:

    I’ve had that exact same brand of chorizo you had, and it’s disgusting. I later tried a more expensive brand made from Boulder, CO, and it was awesome. It just goes to show that chorizo is not something you want to get cheap.

    BTW, unlike cheap chorizo, haggis is delicious! It taste almost like dirty rice. You should definitely get it frozen from a British import store.

  5. Barend Venter says:

    The beef version also is made with salivary glands, tongue, and cheeks. It’s quite delicious, given that I grew up eating beef tongue I don’t feel particularly squeamish about it either.

  6. Vicente says:

    You all don’t know that salivatory glands are one of the highest sources of heart healthy vitamin k2 besides gouda cheese and natto. I swear anything from Mexico is hated on so but at least they tell you ask Oscar what he puts in his hotdogs.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for the tip, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to taste like the chorizo ground from pork shoulder. A local butcher grinds up some great chorizo.

      You’re dead on with Oscar Meyer’s wieners. They’re disgusting. Ronald McDonald can shove his burgers up his ass, too. Sure, they’re beef, but you’ll never be able to identify which parts of the cow they’re from.

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