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Spanish Chorizo at a Glance
Spain, Iberian Peninsula, Southwest Europe
Type of Charcuterie
Dry Cured Meat, Smoked Sausage, Smoked
Pork, beef, fat, trimmings, paprika, garlic, pepper, oregano, choricero peppers
Choriz dulce, chorizo picante, chorizo duro picante, chorizo duro, chorizo duro dulce, chorizo tradicional, Iberico Bellota chorizo, chorizo ovalo, chorizo Cantimpalo, soft chorizo, hard chorizo, Pamplona chorizo, chistorra, Portuguese chourico, Goan chorizo
Spanish Chorizo Description
Sausage making is a practice that dates back to earlier times. The Iberian peninsula has seen its fair share of sausage making practices. In the 16th Century explorers and conquistadors brought with them from the New World red peppers. It was not long before these were smoked and dried to obtain the pimentón spice or smoked Spanish paprika.
When mixed with meat this gave not only a delicious flavor but helped to preserve it as well. Pimentón quickly became an essential ingredient in sausage making, giving way to what is known today as the Spanish chorizo.
During the matanza families or entire villages would slaughter pigs and work quickly to produce various preserved meats. The chorizo was made out of pork as well as trimmings or offal to ensure that nothing was wasted.
Today, chorizo can still be made out of this but also out of beef or a mixture of meats. These are usually minced or chopped along with some fat and seasoned with a good amount of paprika, garlic pepper, oregano and sometimes choricero peppers.
Some regions in Spain add white wine or vinegar as well. The seasoned minced meat is then stuffed into casings and can be processed in different ways. These may be left to cure and ferment, smoked or even be partially cooked.
The end product may either be hard chorizo if it is left to cure, ferment and or is smoked. When it is only semi-cured the result is a soft chorizo. Some may even leave this uncooked resulting in fresh chorizo.
Whatever type, these all carry the distinct ruddy red color because of the paprika used. In terms of flavor, chorizo is usually tangy and garlicky. It may also be sweet or spicy depending on the type of smoked paprika used.
Hard or dry cured chorizo may be eaten without further cooking. It is often sliced and enjoyed as a cold cut. Of course it may also be used for cooking. Soft chorizo is often added to stews and soups or cooked by grilling or pan frying.
Photo Credit: brent_buford