"Healthy" Chorizo: Thanks, But No

I'm not one to turn my nose up at "healthy" chorizo purely because it's healthy. After all, I once made the claim -- highly disturbing to some -- that Soyrizo, made entirely from soy, tasted just as good as the real thing. I'm an equal opportunity chorizo lover.

So when I saw the Mexican sausage at Georgia's Farm to Market (12171 Katy Freeway) last Saturday, I was excited. Sitting in the refrigerated case alongside Georgia's free-range chickens and grass-fed beef, I saw the opportunity to enjoy a sausage I loved dearly in a healthier form than what I typically buy at La Michoacana.

Like Georgia's other meats, the chorizo is made from all-natural pork that contains no antibiotics or growth hormones. The sausage doesn't contain random bits of trimmings from all over the animal; it's pure, ground pork. Although it doesn't say it on the package, the pork used is extra lean -- there's very little fat in here. And therein lies the problem.

With regular chorizo, the hallmark of the slightly spicy sausage is the neon orange grease that pours off the sausage as you eat it. Even with Soyrizo, there's plenty of fat inside that synthetic casing -- 9 grams of it per serving -- in the form of canola oil. With this lean chorizo from Georgia's, there was so little fat, I had to put a tiny pat of butter in the skillet to keep it from sticking. The sausage didn't crumble at all and instead stuck together as if it contained Elmer's glue.

And that was only the beginning of the problems.

You can smell chorizo when it's cooking, and not just because of the fatty smell of meat browning. The air becomes saturated with the tangy, pungent scent of vinegar. There was almost no smell to the cooking meat at all. I could have been microwaving a Garden Burger, as far as any aroma would have indicated. And although the packaging listed vinegar as one ingredient, you couldn't taste it at all in the cooked sausage.

What you could taste was a bit of paprika and garlic, but not much else. The end result of cooking the chorizo with eggs and potatoes was a skillet full of bland breakfast sausage mixed with eggs and potatoes that didn't want to have anything to do with this boring interloper. It was food equivalent of that guy at a party who backs you into a corner, droning on about his cat's last visit to the vet and his latest bout of athlete's foot. It was miserable.

I tried to eat the chorizo, but it was such a disappointment that I ended up salvaging only the potatoes and eggs and giving the sausage to the dogs. Only two of the three ate it.

Although I appreciate the effort that Georgia's put in here, the sausage recipe needs some serious revamping -- add some fat back in and punch it up with the vinegar and spices it so desperately needs -- before it can be called chorizo. In combination with Georgia's tasty, wholesome pork, that would be a winning combination. But until then, it looks like I'll be sticking to Soyrizo for all of my "healthy" chorizo needs.

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