Years ago, when I first started working as a culinary instructor in Cleveland, teaching Mexican cooking classes seemed the perfect fit for a Southern California transplant.
But finding ingredients for those classes in local grocery stores proved a big challenge. Fresh chorizo sausage was nearly impossible to locate. If you wanted to make a recipe with chorizo, you had to make it yourself.
Today, the odds of finding it in the meat section of most Twin Cities grocery stores are strongly in your favor. Most chain stores either make their own, alongside their Italian sausage and brats, or carry some other brand. That's good news for anyone interested in making tacos.
Before I go any further, I should make it clear; I'm talking about fresh Mexican chorizo, not the Spanish version, a firm, dry-cured sausage, flavored with smoked paprika.
Mexican chorizo is an uncured, uncooked fresh sausage seasoned with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves and coriander, bright red from a combination of paprika and achiote, and tangy from vinegar. It comes stuffed either into natural casings, or sold as bulk sausage, without the casings.
It is a versatile sausage that, while traditionally served in Mexican dishes, would happily give an aromatic Southwest spin to many pasta dishes, breakfast stratas and egg scrambles. It's even good mixed into your favorite mac and cheese recipe.
My favorite way to enjoy this flavorful sausage is paired with crispy cubes of potato and stuffed into a taco. I could eat it for breakfast (in fact, I often do, with the addition of a fried or scrambled egg), lunch and dinner.
The potato, boiled briefly in vinegary saltwater, is drained and cooked with the chorizo until it's browned, with a nice crust. The chorizo is cooked until crispy and well browned. I like to add sliced poblano chiles and onions for a little sweetness and a touch of heat (if you like your tacos extra hot, feel free to add a diced serrano chile along with the onions and poblanos), before tucking the fragrant mixture into a warmed corn tortilla. Topping it with a tart green salsa, a creamy slice of avocado and cilantro, I'm one lime-wedge squeeze from heaven.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @meredithdeeds.