When it comes to pork, I don’t discriminate. Give me bacon, give me Boston Butt, or give me a rack of ribs – I will eat it all, and be as happy as a clam at high tide. Better yet, give me chorizo, and I become weak in the knees.
What’s not to love about pork sausage turbo-charged with smoked paprika and dried chile peppers? And what’s not to love about eating 14 dishes in a row that all use the Mexican counterpart in unique ways? It would only be appropriate for the first Iron Chef battle sans vegetarian, Hope, to have a meaty secret ingredient, right?! And sure, I’d choose Hope any day over a meat-containing Iron Chef theme, but at the end of the day, I knew that was a choice I didn’t have – so when I saw chorizo on my email I smiled. I smiled big.
I used the rest of my smuggled Spanish chorizo a while back, and believe you me, it’s hard to find similar quality Spanish chorizo outside of, well, Spain. But Mexican chorizo is a whole other ballgame. There are gazillions of Mexican markets around Chicago, and they all have their house-made chorizo, and they are all scrumptious. This battle was for the Mexican version only, so I was in luck.
That being said, you could definitely make your own Mexican chorizo, which isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard. I have a hard time justifying that act though, with a tienda de Mexicana right around the corner.
All in all, Battle Chorizo was chock full of both chorizo and fun. I thought I’d get some originality points by bringing a dessert to the table, but I should know by now, 13 battles in, that I’m not the only one who brings it. Either way, the food was consistently good, and this time picking a favorite didn’t come as easily to me as it has in past battles.
But in the end, what stood out most was a dish that typically doesn’t fare too well in Iron Chef land: a beverage. Brook went balls to the wall and infused tequila with chorizo, making a super spicy, subtly meaty, perfectly-mixed meat-garita. It may not sound good, and maybe everybody didn’t adore it, but I sure did.
The Top Three (all pictured individually, above):
1. Brook’s Meatgaritas (gluten/dairy-free)
2. My Maple Panna Cotta with Candied Chorizo Caramel (gluten/dairy-free)
3. Katherine’s Chocolate-Chorizo Crostini (dairy-free)
Of course, in the midst of Brook’s (all too narrow) win over my maple-chorizo dessert, we all found even more liquid courage and busted a few moves with Brook & Katherine’s new toy, the Kinect. I could quickly abandon the gym in exchange for the dance game, that’s for sure. Wait.. does not going in three months already count as abandoning?! What with battles like this past one, it might be time to reconsider..
For links to the first 12 battles, visit the newly created Iron Chef page!
Meatgaritas (aka Chorizo-infused margaritas)
the instructions below can be used for various infusions. if your flavor of choice isn’t fatty, the freezer part isn’t really needed, and you can instead infuse in the fridge for as long as you want. infused liquors keep indefinitely.
1 lb bacon
1 lb Mexican chorizo
bottle of tequila
chorizo spices (garlic powder, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, cumin, guajillo chiles)
kosher salt, for rimming
fire salt, for rimming
Cook a bacon and chorizo in saucepan. Add both and tequila to large airtight glass container; let sit in the freezer for 24 hours or longer (the longer, the better). Remove from the freezer, and remove layer of fat from the tequila. Strain and return to container, without meat.
Steep various chorizo-spices in infused tequila for 1 hour; strain. Mix tequila with lime juice and triple sec to desired flavor. Combine salts and rim glasses, moistened with lime juice.
*dishes from above picture, from top left to bottom right: Jon’s chorizo-stuffed pork tenderloin, Katherine’s black bean chorizo chili, Terri’s chorizo bread stuffing, Michelle’s chorizo cupcakes, Terri’s chorizo mincemeat cups, Chris’ chorizo and clam stew, Becca’s chorizo sliders, Jennifer’s chorizo-stuffed mushrooms, Kaitlyn’s chorizo macaroni and cheese.