The Food-Lover’s Guide to Spanish Chorizo

Published : 03/28/2018 14:42:49
Categories : Eatapas News

If you have a passion for good, authentic Spanish food, you’re probably already a lover of chorizo.
One of Spain’s most popular products, chorizo can be incorporated into a variety of different meals, from stews to pasta – or is equally delicious on its own!
Interested in learning more about this infamous product? Here’s the food-lover’s guide to Spanish chorizo.

What is Spanish Chorizo?

Wondering what’s in chorizo? There is no special alchemy behind the best Spanish chorizo, just a few high-quality ingredients, passion and time.

What Are the Ingredients in Chorizo?

Chorizo is a cured sausage consisting of some basic ingredients: minced pork meat and fat, garlic, salt and Spanish paprika. This gives chorizo its reddish colour.
All these ingredients are mixed up, stuffed into either natural or artificial casings and then left to air-dry for several months.

What makes chorizo a unique product is:

  • The quality of the raw materials, i.e. lean pork meat from shoulder, good fat and authentic PGI Pimentón de la Vera from Extremadura.
  • Curing, which can take place in natural air-dry cellars exposed to mountain breeze vs. industrial curing chambers.
  • Artisan Mastery.

Making Traditional Spanish Chorizo

There are many different types of chorizo! But, many of the traditions that go into making it remain the same.
The slaughter of the pig, or “Matanza del Cerdo” is the traditional procedure used to take advantage of the meat. Historically, products resulting from pig slaughtering were bound for family consumption only and were preserved using natural methods: smoking, salting and air-drying.

Each family of farmers had its own favourite chorizo seasoning that was handed down from one generation to another.
Pig slaughtering is a long-held ritual. It’s still one of the most popular gastronomic and festive traditions in many Spanish rural areas.

Over time, chorizo has been made from other meats, i.e. wild boar, horse and deer, but the real authentic Spanish chorizo is made exclusively from pork meat.

The Different Types of Chorizo

In Spain, the variety of chorizo is enormous! The choices include: fresh, cured, iberico, smoked, spicy and sweet. There’s something to suit all tastebuds!

Many Spanish regions boast about making the best chorizo. Some of them are particularly famous:

Chorizo de León

Chorizo de León is a smoked chorizo made from white pigs. Its colour is dark red and its aromas are influenced by the particularly cold local weather. There is both a sweet and a spicy variety. Authentic Leon Chorizo carries the quality seal “Chorizo de León”

Chorizo Riojano

Chorizo Riojano is one of the most iconic artisan products of La Rioja. It was awarded the PGI status in 2008.
It’s made with 100% natural ingredients: superior quality pork meat, fresh garlic, salt and Pimenton de la Vera. Nothing else is required!
It’s frequently used to enrich stews, such as Patatas a la Riojana. It has a typical horseshoe shape.

Chorizo de Cantimpalos

Chorizo de Cantimpalos is produced in the small village of Cantimpalos, a few km. north of Salamanca.
Its PGI status requires artisan producers to stick to the strict norms with regards to genetics of the pigs and their feeding. For example, the chorizo must be produced from castrated pigs.
One of the secrets of this chorizo is that it’s left to air-dry in natural cellars that benefit from the breeze of the Sierra de Guadarrama.
Chorizo de Potes is typical of Cantabria. It’s smoked over holm oak chips for 25 days. It’s seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and thyme.
It’s a versatile chorizo, suitable to eat on its own, fried or in stews.

Chorizo Iberico de Bellota

We had to give a special mention to Chorizo Iberico de Bellota.
Made from black iberico pigs, this chorizo bursts with flavour.
Since iberico pigs are allowed to roam freely in their natural environment, feasting on acorns and cereals, chorizo made from their meat is flavourful and tasty.

Why Can Chorizo Be Found in Different Shapes?

When taking a closer look at chorizo, it’s not uncommon to come across the following terms: Chorizo en Sarta, Chorizo en Vela, Chorizo Cular and Chorizo en Ristra.
Chorizos have different shapes depending on their curing period, their origin and also the casings used to stuff them.

Chorizo en Sarta

Chorizo en Sarta has a horseshoe shape with the two ends tied up together so that it can be hung to air-dry.

Chorizo en Ristra

Chorizo en Ristra is a string of small chorizos. Sausage meat is stuffed into a long casing and then tied off into smaller chorizos. This kind of chorizo is typically not cured, and requires cooking.

Chorizo en Vela

Chorizo en Vela is a thin straight chorizo which shape is determined by its casing, i.e. the small intestine. Diameter varies between 3cm and 4cm. It is named after its aspect as Vela is the Spanish word for candle.

Chorizo Cular

Chorizo Cular is a straight chorizo as well but it’s much thicker as it is stuffed into the large intestine. Whereas Chorizo en vela is usually air-dried for 3 months, Chorizo Cular is cured for no less than 4-6 months because of its width.

At Eatapas, we have a passion for high-quality, artisan Spanish food. We have selected some of the best Spanish chorizos made by artisan producers. From Chorizo Iberico de Bellota to Chorizo León style – we have it covered! Browse our full range of mouth-watering chorizo here.

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