Chorizo is a term for several types of pork sausage, the most famous being the Spanish variety made with smoked paprika (pimentón) that celebrity chefs are always going on about. It's nigh on impossible to find a vegetarian alternative, and even harder to find one that doesn't taste like athletic equipment.
So when all else fails, try making it yourself! And if you can shoehorn in a terrible pun, even better!
This recipe takes a bit of time, so it's not something to do in a hurry, but on a rainy Sunday afternoon while listening to El Vez.
3 medium sized fresh beetroots (2 large, 4 small etc)
350g (1 1/2 cups) Wheat Gluten
200ml (just shy of 1 cup) cider vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tbs chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 tbs salt
You will also need;
a steamer (a Chinese bamboo steamer works well, or a metal stacking steamer. If you don't have a steamer, a bit of creativity using a large pan & some scrunched up kitchen foil, or an upturned saucer should get around that).
Roast the beetroot whole in the oven at 180C for about an hour (maybe longer, depending on the size) until cooked through. Leave to cool. The skins should slip off easily, but if they give you trouble, a sharp knife should help. Put in a blender or food processor with the garlic, oil & cider vinegar & blitz to a smooth puree.
Mix the gluten, salt, pepper & spices in a large bowl. Add the beetroot puree & give it a thorough mixing.
If you've used gluten before, you'll be familiar with its, umm, unique texture. If not, my previous pun-tastic beetball post (I bet Heston Blumenthal never thought of Beet-Meat!) might prepare you for the Purple Blob of Doom. If it all seems a bit dry, a splash of water will help. If it's too wet, a sprinkling of more gluten powder, or some breadcrumbs, should help. The texture should be soft, spongy & very, very weird.
Knead for a minute, then shape into equal sized logs. You'll want them to be about twice the diameter & twice the length of your average sausage (though whatever length fits in your steamer, really!). Roll each sausage shape up in a sheet of kitchen foil & scrunch the ends closed. They will expand during cooking & this will keep them in shape. Pile all your foil parcels into your steamer & cook for 40 minutes. You'll need to preheat your oven to 180C again.
After 40 minutes, remove the foil parcels from the steamer and arrange of a baking tray. If any have burst out of their casing, wrap them in some more foil. Put in the oven & bake for another 40 minutes, turning occasionally.
Yes, I know this is all a bit of a faff, but trust me, it's worth it. You could just steam the Chorbeetzo for a full hour instead of baking, but marvellous alchemy occurs, and you get a firm textured, while still tender, chunk of sausage. Either way, the flavour will be rich, spicy and horribly, horribly addictive.
After 40 minutes, remove from the oven. They will have swelled up a bit, but they will shrink a little when cool. You can sample some now, but you're best off leaving them to go cool. Then they can be sliced thinly for topping pizza, chopped into chunks and added to fideos, Mexican rice, stews, casseroles or any amount of pasta dishes.