Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Cannot Get Enough!

I have never made it a secret- I LOVE SOUP! I would eat it everyday if hubby would let me get away with it. Cold weather or hot; it would not matter to me. I also love sausage and bacon, but you have to sneak it in when he is not looking. Hubby does not like the smell either. His mother says she is clueless, because he ate them when he lived at home.

This version of Beef Barley Soup is made with red wine chorizo I make and keep in the freezer, and hog jowls I brought back from Virginia in August. I pan roasted carrots, celery, onions with oil; add chorizo and barley along with stock, and voila! My taste buds are happy again!

Well, at least until this pot is gone, and then I will need another fix...

Now I also know a few of you are saying to yourself "Hog jowls"? I grew up eating many parts of the pig, because my family were farmers. My father and mother did not live on a farm, but we consumed foods at their families homes that did. Childhood memories of eating this stuff was not pleasant, but I have often preached that we should revisit tastes to see if you might like them as an adult.

Hog jowls are found mostly in the southern regions of the United States. They are the cheek of a hog, which is usually cured and smoked. The flavor is similar to regular bacon which comes from the upper belly or thigh region of the pig, but also depends on how it is smoked.

Tightly wrapped, it can be refrigerated for up to a week. It's fattier than bacon but can be cut into strips and fried in the same manner; it is also used to flavor stews, bean dishes, greens, and the like. My favorite is on a BLT, and are considered in the Appalachian region to bring good luck!

Chorizo is another one of my favorite meats. I make two versions- The recipe is from my Guatemalan neighbor, Magdony who taught me years ago. I converted it into two varieties, vegetarian with TVP, or using ground pork, veal, and beef. The second recipe is something I played around with using red wine using this recipe (below).

Mexican Chorizo (Sausage)

1 pound meat, or meats of your choice, or vegetarian TVP
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or 3 dried guajillo chile soaked in warm water (do not use tops)
1 Garlic clove
1 tablespoon Vinegar (I have found I need a little more)
2 tablespoons Red Wine*

Blend all ingredients well (food processor if desired) and pack into an air tight container. Will keep for one week in refrigerator. This can also be packed into casings and smoked for flavor, or merely dried overnight between 60 and 70 degrees.

*If using red wine for added flavor, then you must soak meat in red wine overnight and continue with process above.

This recipe yields 1 pound fresh chorizo.