One of America’s Favorites – Chorizo

July 14, 2014 at 7:15 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 4 Comments
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Spanish chorizo

Spanish chorizo

Chorizo (Spanish) or chouriço (Portuguese) is a term originating in the Iberian Peninsula encompassing several types of pork sausages. Traditionally, chorizo is encased in natural casings made from intestines, a method used since Roman times.

Chorizo can be a fresh sausage, in which case it must be cooked before eating. In Europe, it is more frequently a fermented, cured, smoked sausage, in which case it is often sliced and eaten without cooking, and can be added as an ingredient to add flavour to other dishes. Spanish chorizo and Portuguese chouriço get their distinctive smokiness and deep red color from dried smoked red peppers (pimentón/pimentão).

Due to culinary tradition and the high cost of imported Spanish smoked paprika, Mexican chorizo is usually made with native chili peppers of the same Capsicum annuum family, used abundantly in Mexican cuisine. In Latin America, vinegar also tends to be used instead of the white wine usually used in Spain.

Chorizo can be eaten sliced in a sandwich, grilled, fried, or simmered in liquid, including apple cider, other strong alcoholic beverage such as aguardiente. It also can be used as a partial replacement for ground (minced) beef or pork.

Spanish-style tapas bars that serve traditional Spanish-style chorizo have gained in popularity in recent years, and now appear in many large cities throughout North America and in parts of Europe.

 

 

 
Spanish chorizo is made from coarsely chopped pork and pork fat, seasoned with smoked pimentón (paprika) and salt. It is generally classed as either picante (spicy) or dulce (sweet), depending upon the type of smoked paprika used. Hundreds of regional varieties of Spanish chorizo, both smoked and unsmoked, may contain garlic, herbs and other ingredients. For example, Pamplona-style chorizo is a thicker sausage with the meat more finely ground. Among the varieties is chorizo Riojano from the La Rioja region; and has PGI protection within the EU.

Chorizo comes in short, long, hard and soft varieties; the leaner varieties are suited to being eaten at room temperature as an appetizer or tapas, whereas the fattier versions are generally used for cooking. A general rule of thumb is that long, thin chorizos are sweet, and short chorizos are spicy, although this is not always the case.

As well as chorizo, Spain also produces many other varieties of pork elaborations, such as lomo embuchado or salchichón, cured and air-dried in a similar way. Lomo is a lean, cured meat to slice, made from the loin of the pig, which is marinated and then air-dried. Salchichón is another cured sausage without the pimentón seasoning of chorizo, but flavoured with black peppercorns instead.

Depending on the variety, chorizo can be eaten sliced without further cooking, sometimes sliced in a sandwich, or barbecued, fried or baked alongside other foodstuffs, and is also an ingredient in several dishes where it accompanies beans, such as fabada or cocido madrileño. The version of these dishes con todos los sacramentos (with all the trimmings, literally sacraments) adds to chorizo other preserved meats such as tocino (cured bacon) and morcilla (blood sausage).

 

 

 

A variety of Portuguese chouriços

A variety of Portuguese chouriços

Portuguese chouriço is made (at least) with pork, fat, wine, paprika, garlic and salt. It is then stuffed into natural or artificial casings and slowly dried over smoke. There are many different varieties, differing in color, shape, seasoning and taste. Many dishes of Portuguese cuisine and Brazilian cuisine make use of chouriço – cozido à portuguesa and feijoada are just two of them.

A popular way to prepare chouriço is partially sliced and flame-cooked over alcohol at the table (chouriço à bombeiro). Special glazed earthenware dishes with a lattice top are used for this purpose.

In Portugal, there is also a blood chouriço (chouriço de sangue) similar to the black pudding, amongst many other types of enchidos (Spanish: embutido), such as alheira, linguiça, morcela, farinheira, chouriço de Vinho, chouriço de ossos, chourição, cacholeira, paia, paio, paiola, paiote and tripa enfarinhada.

 

 

 
Based on the uncooked Spanish chorizo fresco, the Mexican versions of chorizo are made from fatty pork (however, beef, venison, kosher, and even vegan versions are known). The meat is usually ground (minced) rather than chopped, and different seasonings are used. This type is better known in Mexico and other parts of the Americas, and is not frequently found in Europe. Chorizo and longaniza are not considered the same thing in Mexico.

The area of Toluca, Mexico, known as the capital of chorizo outside of the Iberian Peninsula, specializes in “green” chorizo, which is made with tomatillo, cilantro, chili peppers, garlic or a combination of these. The green chorizo recipe is native to Toluca. Most Mexican chorizo is a deep reddish color, and is largely available in two varieties, fresh and dried, though fresh is much more common. Quality chorizo is made from good cuts of pork stuffed in natural casings, while some of the cheapest commercial styles use variety meats[8] stuffed in inedible plastic casing to resemble sausage links. Before consumption, the casing is usually cut open and the sausage is fried in a pan and mashed with a fork until it resembles finely minced ground beef. A common alternative recipe does not involve casings: ground pork and beef are cured overnight with a little vinegar and a lot of chili powder. Served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it has the fine mince-texture mentioned above, and is quite intense in flavor.

In Mexico, restaurants and food stands make tacos, queso fundido (or choriqueso), burritos, and tortas with cooked chorizo, and it is also a popular pizza topping. Chorizo con huevos is a popular breakfast dish in Mexico and areas of Mexican immigration. It is made by mixing fried chorizo with scrambled eggs. Chorizo con huevos is often used in breakfast burritos, tacos and taquitos. A popular Mexican recipe in which chorizo is used as an ingredient is to combine it with pinto or black refried beans. This is done by simply frying the chorizo and then combining it with refried beans. This combination is often used in tortas as a spread, or as a side dish where plain refried beans would normally be served. In Mexico, chorizo is also used to make the popular appetizer chorizo con queso (or choriqueso), which is small pieces of chorizo served in or on melted cheese, and eaten with small corn tortillas. In heavily Mexican parts of the United States, a popular filling for breakfast tacos is chorizo con papas, or diced potatoes sautéed until soft with chorizo mixed in.

 

 

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