Chorizo: A Worldwide Favorite
By: Zach Diamond
One of our most popular salamis we sell is our Spanish Chorizo. A riff on chorizo rioja, we use cascabel, pasilla, and guajillo chiles as the base to the flavor. We then add sherry, cayenne and smoked paprika to produce a rich, spicy and balanced pork chorizo. While our chorizo is Spanish-style, there are several different kinds of chorizo, and the history of the sausage is quite unique. Let’s take a deeper look!
When Europe’s population began rising again after the Black Plague, communities needed a food source that would last longer than fresh meat to accommodate more people. They found that dry curing and smoking sausages significantly increased shelf life, causing a surge in the popularity of sausages around the 15th century. In the 16th century, as Spain colonized Central and South America, paprika peppers were sent back to Spain from Central Mexico. Combining their love of the two foods, the chorizo was born in Catalonia, where there are 17 recognized varieties. Nowadays, chorizo is a central ingredient in Spanish cuisine. Spain alone produces 65,000 tonnes per year, making up for 40% of Spain’s sausage production. It can be spicy or sweet, smoked or unsmoked, eaten at room temperature as tapas, or cooked into dishes like paella. While chorizo originated in Spain, several other cultures now have their own version.
As the Spanish exported paprika back from Mexico in the 16th century, they brought pigs into Mexico. As a result, chorizo became a central figure in Mexican cuisine as well. Unlike Spain’s version which is dry-cured and fermented, resulting in a harder and drier salami, Mexican chorizo is eaten fresh. The raw sausage is grilled or fried before eating and tends to be much spicier than its Spanish counterpart. The city of Toluca is known for inventing the green chorizo, made with fresh ingredients including garlic, tomatillo, cilantro and green chilies. All over Mexico, chorizo is found in several dishes like tacos, burritos, queso fundido, and chorizo con huevos.
Very similar to Spanish Chorizo, Chouriço incorporates more wine into the flavoring and is dried via a slow smoking process. The traditional Portuguese dish Chouriço à Bombeiro blackens the sausage over a flame. High proof grain alcohol is ignited in a clay baking dish over which the sliced sausage is placed on a lattice until crisp. As a result of Portugal’s colonialism, the Portuguese Chouriço has been spread to several other countries including Brazil, South Africa, India and the United States. In Brazil, the popular bean stew feijoada includes sliced chouriço in black beans. In Goa, India, Indian spices such as turmeric, cumin, ginger, and cloves are added to the sausage which is eaten with bread or rice pilaf. In Portuguese-influenced areas of New England, chouriço is found sliced and cooked with little neck clams and white beans. The Portuguese Chouriço has become a staple ingredient used all over the world.
Are you chorizo craving yet? Whether slicing it and adding it to stews, or eating it on a charcuterie plate, Underground Meats Spanish Chorizo is versatile and rich in flavor. Order yours here!