If you love Spanish dishes, Chorizo pronounced ‘chor-eetho’, is one of those versatile ingredients that can be added to a whole host of dishes and cooked in a variety of ways. It can be roasted, fried, sautéed, grilled or just sliced and eaten as a tapa.
In any self-respecting Spanish household you will find it in soups, stews, casseroles, paella dishes, snacks, Pilaf’s, Jams, salads, chillis or risottos. A quick click through any recipe website and you will find many sumptuous Chorizo dishes.
But not all Chorizo’s are created equally. You can buy the renowned Spanish Chorizo – obviously, but there are also imitations including, English, Caribbean, Mexican and Portuguese Chorizo.
Despite its universality, what is immediately recognisable about Spanish Chorizo is its colour, which is derived from Spanish Paprika or Pimentón. It varies between a vibrant red and a burnt, dark orange.
As you would expect tastes vary across each region. It’s not uncommon for each manufacturing town to prepare it in their own special way, whether it’s sweet, spicy or smoked – meaning there are dozens of possible variations.
Sweet Chorizo is called Dulce and Spicy Chorizo is known as Picante.
You might also notice there are a variety of Chorizo shapes. Three common varieties are vela (long, thin and straight), ristra (small and tied together) or sarta (U-shaped).
The quality of charcuterie depends on the pig. Most chorizos come from white pigs but the best (and most expensive) come from the Iberico pigs and are known as Chorizo Ibérico. It is only produced in small quantities and is reassuringly expensive.
Here is a list of other types of Chorizo available
Chorizo de Cantimpalos – Produced in the towns of Segovia & Valladolid and Salamanca the content of this sausage is at least 50% paprika and the pigs are fed cereals.
Leon Herradura – Horseshoe in shape and made with Pimenton de la Vera.
Chorizo de Pamplona – Produced in the Navarre region of Spain. The characteristics of the meat are dry and similar to pepperoni in style.
Chorizo Soria – Thick large and brick like, this paprika flavoured chorizo of Salamanca is made from meaty chunks of pork loin.
Chorizo de Bilbao – From the city of Bilbao. This is a spicy semi-cured sausage made with 50% beef, 30% pork, and 20% pork fat.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea of how varied this popular Spanish ingredient is.