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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 cost of imported Spanish smoked paprika, Mexican chorizo is usually made with chili peppers, used abundantly in Mexican cuisine. In Latin America, vinegar also tends to be used instead of the white wine usually used in Spain. Traditionally, chorizo is encased in natural casings made from intestines, a method used since Roman times.
Some types of chorizo can be eaten without further cooking (e.g. sliced or in a sandwich). Chorizos can be 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 other parts of Europe.
There are several different names and spellings used:
- Asturian: chorizu (pronounced: [tʃoˈɾiθu])
- Basque: txorizo ([tʃoˈɾis̻o])
- Catalan: xoriço ([ʃuˈɾisu])
- Galician: chourizo ([tʃowˈɾiθo])
- Portuguese: chouriço ([ʃoˈɾisu])
- Spanish: chorizo ([tʃoˈɾiθo] or [tʃoˈɾiso])
In English, chorizo is usually pronounced //, or // by some speakers . Non-English pronunciations are sometimes heard, including //, mimicking Castilian Spanish, and the hyperforeign pronunciation // in which the 'z' erroneously follows the rules of Italian rather than Spanish orthography.
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).
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 sangre) very 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 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.
Comparison with linguiça
Puerto Rico, Panama and Dominican Republic
In Puerto Rico, Panama and the Dominican Republic, chorizo and longaniza are considered two separate meats. Puerto Rican chorizo is a smoked, well-seasoned sausage nearly identical to the smoked versions in Spain. Puerto Rican and Dominican longanizas have a very different taste and appearance. Seasoned meat is stuffed into pork intestine and is formed very long by hand. It is then hung to air-dry. Longaniza can then be fried in oil or cooked with rice or beans. It is eaten with many different dishes.
Chorizo is a popular pizza topping in Puerto Rico.
In Ecuador, many types of sausage have been directly adopted from European or North American cuisine. All sorts of salami, either raw or smoked, are just known as salami. Most commonly known are sorts from Spanish chorizo, Italian pepperoni and wiener sausages; wieners are the most popular. There are some local specialities, such as morcilla, longaniza or chorizo. Morcilla, as in most Spanish-speaking countries, is basically cooked pork blood encased in pork intestine casing (black pudding in English). Longaniza is a thin sausage containing almost any mixture of meat, fat or even cartilage, smoked rather than fresh. Chorizo is a mixture of chopped pork meat, pork fat, salt, whole pepper grains, cinnamon, achiote and other spices, which produce its characteristic deep red colour. A traditional dish consists of fried egg, mashed potatoes, half an avocado, salad, and slices of fried chorizo.
In Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Colombia, chorizo is the name for any coarse meat sausage. Spanish-style chorizo is also available, and is distinguished by the name "chorizo español" (Spanish chorizo). Argentine chorizos are normally made of pork, and are not spicy hot. Some Argentine chorizos include other types of meat, typically beef. In Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile and Peru, a fresh chorizo, cooked and served in a bread roll, is called a choripán. In Colombia, chorizo is usually accompanied by arepa.
In Brazil, chouriço is the word used for what in the rest of Latin America is morcilla; meat sausages similar to the chorizos of other Latin American countries are called linguiça. Many varieties of Portuguese-style chouriço and linguiça are used in many different types of dishes, such as feijoada.
In Bolivia chorizos are made of pork, fried and served with salad (tomato, lettuce, onion, boiled carrots and quirquiña), mote, and a slice of bread soaked with chorizo fat. Chorizo sandwiches, without mote, are also eaten.
In Goa, India, chouriço has made a deep impact among the local Catholic community owing to 451 years of Portuguese rule. Here, chouriço are deep red pork sausage links made from pork, vinegar, chili, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and other spices, and are extremely hot, spicy and flavorful, that are then stuffed into chitterlings (pigs intestines). These are enjoyed either with the local Goan bread (e.g. pão), or pearl onions, or both. They are also used in a rice-based dish called pulão. They are never consumed raw due to health concerns.
One can find three kinds of chouriço in Goa: dry, wet, and skin. Dry chouriço is aged in the sun for long periods (three months or more). Wet chouriço has been aged for about a month. Skin chouriço, also aged, is rare and difficult to find. Skin chouriço consists primarily of pork skin and some fat. All three chouriço come in variations such as hot, medium and mild. Other variations exist, depending on the size of the links, which range from 1 inch (smallest) to 6 inches. Typically, the wet varieties tend to be longer than the dry ones.
In Goa, tourists often refer to chouriço as "sausage", which causes it to be often confused with "Goan frankfurters". These are very different from chouriço. In looks, they are similar to sausage links as found in the United States, and they taste similar to Portuguese sausage links, known as linguiça. The meat is coarsely ground and has primarily a peppercorn flavor.
Longaniza (Tagalog: longganisa; Visayan: chorizo, soriso) are Philippine chorizos flavoured with indigenous spices. Longaniza-making has a long tradition in the Philippines, with each region having its own specialty. Among others, Lucban longaniza is known for its garlic profile, and Guagua for its salty, almost sour, longanizas. Longganisang hamonado (Spanish: longaniza jamonada), by contrast, is known for its distinctive sweet taste. Unlike Spanish chorizos, longanizas can also be made of chicken, beef, or even tuna.
While longanizas are fresh sausages, there are also cured sausages in the Philippines called chorizos. They are available in Spanish style and Chinese style. They are used in dishes that have Spanish and Chinese influences, such as Philippine-style paella, and pancit Canton.
Chouriços are made in East Timor, too. The country is a former Portuguese colony.
- Jerry Predika (1983), The Sausage-Making Cookbook, Stackpole Books, ISBN 978-0-8117-1693-2, ISBN 0811716937
- The U.S. Times, Truly Spanish Chorizo, in America at Last
- Schwarzwälder. Culinaria Spain. Cologne: Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 1998. p. 345.
- Aris, Pepita. Spanish: Over 150 Mouthwatering Step-By-Step Recipes. London: Anness Publishing Ltd, 2003 pp. 54–55.
- Spanish-Chorizo.co.uk - Types of Spanish Chorizo (Sausage)
- Chorizo recipes
- Chorizo ingredient scan
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