There are many types of Chorizo sausage popular not only in Spain and Portugal but also Mexico, South America, the Philippines and in Cajun and Creole cooking. They are normally made from pork, pork fat and salt and can be flavoured with garlic, wine and spices, and herbs such as cloves, thyme, and oregano. Chorizo sausage is usually made with natural casings and can be raw, in which case they require cooking, or fermented, cured or smoked. The different textures, flavours and tastes mean Chorizo is very versatile, the softer varieties used for slicing and the fattier sausages used for cooking or flavouring dishes.
Spanish Chorizo and Portuguese Chouriço get their distinctive taste and distinctive deep red colour from the addition of lots of pimentón or dried smoked red peppers. The two main styles are Dulce which is sweet and mildly spiced and or Picante with a lot more kick. Dulce Chorizo are normally longer and thinner in shape and shorter sausages tend to be Picante but this is not always the case. In Spain texts from the Yuste Monastery mention the manufacture of sausages from the 16th century, before pimentón was widely produced in Spain. Peppers were introduced in Spain by Christopher Columbus after his first voyage to the Americas, in 1493. Spanish Chorizo can be eaten simply sliced into a sandwich, or fried and grilled. Spanish Chorizo is the staple ingredient in many tapas dishes.
Portuguese Chouriço is made with pork, fat, wine, paprika and salt and slowly dried over smoke. There is also a blood Chouriço (chouriço de sangue) very similar to the peppery black pudding in English cuisine. A popular way to prepare Chouriço is partially sliced and flame-cooked over a burner at the table. Special glazed earthenware dishes with a lattice top are used for this purpose.
South American ( Mexican ) Chorizo sausages tend to use locally grown chilli peppers rather than the sweeter milder pimentón pepper. The meat is normally ground or minced rather than chopped and tends to be quite fatty, releasing a flavoursome oil on cooking. In Mexico, restaurants, and food stands make tacos, burritos, and tortas with cooked Chorizo often with refried beans. Perhaps the most famous dish is Chorizo con huevos served at breakfast it is made by mixing fried Chorizo with scrambled eggs. Another popular dish is Chorizo con queso, small pieces of Chorizo served in or on melted cheese, and eaten with small corn tortillas. Mexican Chorizo is also a very popular pizza topping.
Perhaps the most famous tapas is Chorizo a la sidra, from Asturias. Slices of Chorizo stewed in cider and olive oil, a classic combination the cooking is typically Spanish, decidedly uncomplicated relying upon premium quality ingredients. As the cooking liquor is reduced and the slight sweetness of the cider infuses the Chorizo and the garlic, paprika and fat from the sausage enrich the stewing juices. Serve with some crusty bread and cold, crisp, still cider.
Chorizo a la sidra
300 gr raw Chorizo
500 ml dry still Cider
100 ml quality extra virgin Olive Oil
Slice the Chorizo in one and a half centimeter slices. Heat the olive oil on a moderate heat in a large, heavy-bottomed, frying pan. Add the Chorizo slices and fry until they change in colour and start to caramelise but take care not to burn. Add the cider and bring to the boil, cook for ten to fifteen minutes, until the sauce has reduced by around a quarter. Serve in small bowls while still warm.
Cooking with Chorizo