Cooking With Chorizo: What You Need To Know

Chomping on Chorizo

Every country has their own special take on the humble sausage. Lebanon has sujuk. In German they eat bratwurst and in Poland you’ll find kielbasa. Here in Australia we love our lamb sausages, and in Spain they are crazy about chorizo.

You will find different variations of this dish all around the world. In Portugal they call it chouriço and in the Philippines they have Longaniza. It is widely eaten across South America and even in India, and in Australia it is fast gaining much reverence as a tasty addition to many dishes. No matter where on Earth you eat it, chorizo means the same thing: delicious fatty pork sausage.

More versatile than your average sausage, chorizo can be sliced or diced or eaten whole, eaten as tapas or scattered on a pizza, or removed from its casing and thrown into a salad or soup: it doesn’t matter, what you’ll get is a huge hit of flavour and an excellent textural element to any dish.

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How Is It Made?

Like all sausages, chorizo is traditionally encased natural tubing made from animal intestines, a method used since Roman times. These days, however, synthetic materials are also used to hold everything together.

The Spanish variation is typically a fatty cured pork sausage seasoned with plenty of smoked paprika, which gives it it’s distinguishable red colour, and other spices. Paprika is made from ground, smoked and dried red peppers, and can vary in the level of heat they emit. The spiciness of the chorizo depends on the virility of the paprika that is being used, and you will find variations ranging from mild and mellow to quite hot.

Because chorizo is cured, it can be eaten raw or cooked. Usually, the sausage contains a high fat content, which means that when it is thrown on a pan or under a grill it becomes extremely juicy.

In Spain, hundreds of regional varieties of chorizo exist, each with their own flavour profile and ingredients. Aside from paprika, the fatty pork is often combined with garlic, pepper and herbs. The sausage also differs greatly across different regions in terms of size and density — it can be long or short, hard or soft. As a general rule, long versions are sweeter, while short versions are spicier, but that isn’t always so.

Chorizo Around The World

No matter where you find it around the world, chorizo will always be made from cured pork, however, the other ingredients used can differ greatly. Portuguese chouriço is made with pork, fat, wine, paprika and salt, stuffed into casing, then dried over a smokey fire. Blood chouriço (chouriço de sangue) — much like English blood sausage — is also common in Portugal.

In Mexico it is not cured and therefore must be cooked to be eaten. This is based on the Spanish chorizo fresco but unlike the Spanish variation, Mexican chorizo does not contain paprika, instead it embraces the punchiness of pepper flakes. There is also a green chorizo that is made Mexico, which contains tomatillo, coriander, chilli peppers and garlic.

In Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Colombia, chorizo is the name for any coarse meat sausage and isn’t always smokey or spicy. In Goa, the sausage is made from pork, vinegar, chilli, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and is very spicy. Here it is known as chouriço owing to centuries of Portuguese rule in Goa.

How to Eat Chorizo

Chorizo is a versatile food that is an excellent addition to many dishes.

Chopped — Its firmness and girth means it is very easy to chop and dice and makes a great addition to scrambled eggs, salad, mussels and in Spanish paella.

Sliced — It is delicious when sliced and fried and can be added to just about anything: pizza, pasta, salads, burgers, sandwiches — you name it.

Simmered — It is fantastic when simmered in flavoursome liquid such as wine or apple cider then served with rice or potato.

Charred — It complements other meat fantastically, especially when charred on a skewer. Try it with prawns or chicken.

Ground — It can be cut out of its casing, ground and fried for use as a delicious topping for tacos, quesadillas or pizza.

Yum.

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