Spanish chorizo – the most famous of Spanish sausages. There is a lot you can do with chorizos but there are also many different varieties to consider when buying. Some chorizos are good for cooking and barbequing, others simply for tapas or slicing and there is of course the different strengths and whether to consider standard chorizos or the top of the range Bierce variety. Here we will cover your firm favorites, a few tasting notes and what you can do with this world famous sausage.
Cooking chorizos are only mildly cured, usually for around 5 days less than standard chorizo. These sausages are soft and should always come vacuum packed. When removed from the vacuum pack the chorizos almost look pink, this is perfectly normal and they can be fried or barbequed straight away as well as being a main ingredient in a Spanish stew. You can however hang the chorizos up in a cool dry place where their pink colouration will begin to darken, this is part of the natural process of curing, the chorizo will also begin to firm up.
Cooking chorizos are ideal for hot tapas, fried and then sliced into inch long segments they can be served on cocktail sticks with olives, cheese or green chili to name but a few good flavour combinations. The famous dish from Northern Spain the “Fabada Asturiana” uses chorizo as a main ingredient alongside morcilla (black pudding sausage” and beans – a classic dish but you can also make your own stew using this highly versatile sausage.
This really is the king of everyday quality Spanish chorizo. Cured for approximately one week these sausages come hand tied in a string, firm but not hard these chorizo are suitable for cooking as well as serving directly as tapas. Two different strengths are available: “Dulce” (sweet) and “Picante” (hot). Here at Orce Serrano Hams however you can also enjoy what is known as the “Fire Chorizo”, the locals like to call it “chorizo del fuego” or the “super picante” chorizo. Again suitable for most cooking and tapas this chorizo really packs a punch if you enjoy your tapas or ingredients hot and spicy.
Standard chorizo can also come in other sizes too, horseshoe shaped chorizo is very common and you can also get mini chorizos in a string. The flavour of the authentic hand made chorizo is far superior to other mass produced varieties particularly sausages which have been vacuum packed for large retailers. Every local “carniceria” (butchers) follows a basic recipe for chorizo but there are many variations which result in subtle flavour differences, the addition of white wine or a little sherry, less chili more paprika etc etc. Each butcher has their recipe perfected!
The chorizo extra is a very large chorizo usually weighing in at between one and two kilos and approximately three inched across this chorizo is ideal for machine carving. The flavour of this chorizo is quite tangy and it best served on a platter with other sliced meats such as Serrano ham, salchichon and lomo tenderloin. Thin slices can be cut into strips which add depth to salads and chicken dishes.
Although most chorizo sausages in Spain are referred to as “duro” which literally means “hard” this term is loosely used to describe something that is cured. There is however a chorizo sausage that has been cured so that it has a firm consistency all the way through. The chorizo duro is a larger sausage around 350 – 400g that comes on its own tied with rope around the top of the sausage. This chorizo has a sweeter flavour than most and needs to be carved wafer thin for best results. As with the chorizo extra it good for tapas on its own and thinly sliced for tapas, however for cooking the standard or cooking varieties are much more adapt.
Iberico chorizo is a different product altogether and to be truly savoured should be eaten sliced on its own or with other complimentary Spanish tapas. Just like the famous Iberico hams these chorizos come from the Iberian pig – a relative of the wild boar from the Iberian peninsular, these pigs are fed on acorns and again, as with the exquisite hams they produce the nutty flavour from the Iberian sausage is exceptional. Look out for the word “bellota” (acorn fed) and you will experience a real gastronomic treat (there are lesser grades/non bellota) available.
The texture and aroma from these sausages speaks quality, best served at room temperature these chorizo need to be sliced moderately thinly (3mm) and left to breath for at least 5 – 10 minutes to bring up to room temperature. At this point you will notice that the skin of the sausage will start to separate from the meat, this is the time to enjoy.
Complimentary tapas and accompaniments to Iberian chorizo include: Full bodied, slightly bossy red wines, manchego cheese and milder cheeses also work well. Grapes add a sweetness to the depth of this sausage as does mango, orange and ripe exotic fruits such as kiwi. Almonds (not salted) and hazels can add additional texture and for the main all rounder – simple sweet tomatoes, either cherry or sliced vine ripened varieties.
Q: What is the best way to take care of the chorizo sausages?
A: This will all depend on which type you buy. As a general rule vacuum packed chorizo sausages will keep in the fridge for up to three months, once the vacuum has been broken then the chorizos should be hung in a cool dry place away from humidity where they will continue to cure and should be consumed within two weeks.
Q: Should I put my chorizos in the fridge?
A: If your purchase is vacuum packed (including horshoe and mini varieties) then yes they/it should be refridegerated. The exception to this is the “chorizo duro” which comes wrapped in special paper – this chorizo should not be kept in the fridge.
Q: How long will the Orce chorizos last?
A: Once the vacuum seal has been opened the chorizos will last for another two weeks, at this point they will become very firm and although still perfectly ok to consume they will be very well cured and hard.
This Spanish sausage seems to have a wonderful array of pronunciations! However the correct pronunciation is “chor – ee – tho”.
The Spice Factor
The “picante” chorizo is the hot and spicy variety, a moderate “kick” which does calm down with cooking. Warm and spicy this chorizo could be described as a moderate plus on the chili scale.
A special recipe and unavailable anywhere else the Orce Fire Chorizo packs a real punch. Very hot, very spicy and and ideal tapa for those who like a real kick with their Spanish food. Best accompanied with cool salads, mild salsas and fresh bread. Cooks well, adds depth and character to Spanish recipes.
Other sausages to cook with:
Morcilla is another popular Spanish sausage. This black pudding also comes tied in strings of sausages. Morcilla is vacuum sealed for transportation the day it leaves us here in Orce and needs to be kept refridgerated even after the pack is opened as although it has been cured it is very fresh. Morcilla makes a great breakfast and also as an ingredients in stews. Other popular ways of using morcilla in Spanish recipes is to stuff and roll pancetta before cooking as a joint, you can also stuff boned chicken legs or course simply fry up as simple tapas. Morcilla sausages also come in both hot and sweet varieties.
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