The basics: Cube pork shoulder, season it, grind it, and ease it into casings. Dry and cure it.
The home cooks: It all started when cousins Brett Wittman (a construction manager for Sephora, on right) and Jason Marwedel (a manage for K&L Wine Merchants) decided to compete in the Basque chorizo sausage contest held annually in the Sacramento Valley. Jason explains, “We heard our uncles bragging about their chorizo every year, so we decided to get some skin into the game.” They took over the basement of Jason’s grandmother’s San Francisco house, where their family has cured sausages for more than a century. It took time to get the chorizo-making right. Early on, in jest, an uncle stretched caution tape with skulls and crossbones across their sausage-drying area. But three years later, they beat several uncles and Jason’s mother, who had teamed up with an aunt. “Aunt Delle joked that we weren’t invited to Thanksgiving dinner that year,” says Brett.
About those first batches … The early attempts were pretty horrible. Once, they tried drying the chorizo with a fan, and ended up with what looked like Slim Jims.