choripan

When we lived in Argentina, we lived in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood. Not far from my host mom’s house is a huge park, sort of like Buenos Aires’ version of Central Park. They call it El Bosque. Lining the streets leading up to El Bosque, there are a few food vendors. Street food was not a big part of the food culture in Buenos Aires, at least when we lived there, with one exception: the choripan. Men would work these large grills, metal grates probably 2 feet wide by 5 feet long set over charcoal, lined with sausages. Choripan, moricpan, hot dogs. Alongside their grill would be a small table with condiments, ketchup, salsa golf, chimichurri and these tiny french fried potato bits designed to add a little crunch to your hot dog.

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You could, of course, get a choripan at most restaurants and cafés as well, and chorizo plays a supporting role in the great Argentine tradition of the parrillada. Argentine chorizo is mild and juicy, with a few mysterious gristly bits in there for good measure. It’s served on a yeasty white roll when ordered as a choripan. A hardworking jar of chimichurri is already on the table waiting for you to douse your sausage with it.

When our friend Adrian mentioned he was craving a choripan and asked if I knew where he might get a good one in San Francisco, we decided instead to make our own. Argentine chorizo is very different from Spanish or Mexican chorizo, neither are a good substitute, and Jordan does not refuse an opportunity to make sausage. We set to work.

Though we couldn’t quite capture full Argentine experience, lacking a parilla in our San Francisco apartment, I do think we did the choripan justice. A juicy, fatty sausage, seasoned with garlic, paprika and red wine, served on a soft, crusty bread, covered in a sauce made from parsley, cilantro, garlic and red wine vinegar. We each ate two, observing another great Argentine tradition of overeating on Sundays.

Argentine Chorizo, adapted from the basic garlic sausage recipe in Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
2 lbs beef chuck
2.5 lbs pork shoulder
1/2 lb bacon
1.5 oz (40 g) kosher salt
1 tablespoon (10 g) pepper
1/2 tablespoon (5 g) paprika
3 tablespoons (54 g) minced garlic
1 cup (250 ml) good red wine, chilled
10 feet hog sausage casings, rinsed two times and then soaked for at least 30 minutes in tepid water

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Cut the meat into 1″ cubes, discarding the sinew-y bits. Toss with the salt, pepper, paprika and garlic in a large bowl. Put in the freezer until the meat is very cold, almost frozen, about 30 minutes. Also freeze an extra bowl and your meat grinder attachment.

Grind the meat through the small die of a meat grinder into a cold bowl. We use the meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer. Once the meat is ground, put it back in the freezer for another 10 minutes to chill it again. It’s very important to keep the meat cold so the fat doesn’t melt and your sausage has the best texture.

Using the paddle attachment or a good spoon, mix the meat on low speed for one minute. Then slowly add the wine.  Increase the speed to medium and mix for another minute, or until the meat looks sticky. Take a small piece of the meat, and cook it up. Test for seasoning and adjust as needed. Then put it back in the freezer.

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Stuff your sausages! We use the sausage stuffer attachment on the kitchen aid mixture. Here’s a video that shows how to do this step. Don’t rush your sausage stuffing. Twist into 6″ links. Grill your sausages until the internal temperature is 150° F. Store the remaining sausages in the freezer.

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Chimichurri Sauce, from Cook’s Illustrated
1/4 cup hot water
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/3 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
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Combine hot water, oregano, and salt in small bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften oregano. Pulse parsley, cilantro, garlic, and red pepper flakes in food processor until coarsely chopped, about ten 1-second pulses. Add water mixture and vinegar and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and slowly whisk in oil until incorporated and mixture is emulsified. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour. If preparing sauce in advance, refrigerate and bring to room temperature before using.