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Introduction to Spanish Chorizo

The Many Varieties of Spanish Pork Sausage

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Chorizo left to hang for 3 years on a Spanish farm
Lewis Phillips/Photodisc/Getty Images

If you have visited Spain or eaten in a Spanish bodega or restaurant, you have probably eaten Spanish chorizo, pork sausage seasoned with paprika and garlic. It is a staple of the Spanish diet and comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes – from fresh and “soft” to semi-cured and even dry and cured. The one characteristic that almost all types of chorizo have in common is the red color, which comes from Spanish paprika or pimenton. It is interesting to think about howt Spanish sausage must have looked and what it tasted like before red peppers were brought to back from the Americas and paprika was added. What a pale, sausage it must have been!

Mexican or Caribbean varieties cannot be used as substitutes for Spanish chorizo in Spanish recipes. If you need a substitute, try using Portuguese Linguica sausage, which is generally very similar to Spanish chorizo.

Below is a list of some of the types of Spanish chorizo that is available to shoppers and diners in Spain. Some of these varieties have found their way to the shelves of grocery stores in the US, but USDA (US Dept. of Agriculture) regulations prevent many Spanish sausages and hams from being imported, although regulations are slowly changing.

Dry Spanish Chorizo

Spanish really have a love affair with chorizo, or chori for short. Below is a partial list of dry Spanish chorizo and a short description of each:

  • Cantimpalo – This is typical from the regions of Salamanca, Segovia & Valladolid.
  • Pamplona – It resembles salami, but with less fat than what you’d typically see.
  • Leon Herradura – The flavor of Spanish paprika or Pimenton de la Vera can be tasted. Usually this type comes in the shape of a horseshoe.
  • de Leon – This is a hard type that contains a lot of garlic. It can be eaten eaten raw or cooked.
  • Soria - Thick large brick like paprika flavored chorizo of Salamanca is made from meaty chunks of pork loin.
  • Blanco – As its names implies, this cured sausage made with pork loin, garlic and spices is white. However, it is similar to the Italian soprassatta. It gets its distinctive aroma and flavor from its slow aging process.

Semi-Cured Cooking Chorizo

  • Bilbao - From the city of Bilbao, located in the Basque Country, this naturally air-dried sausage is made from pork and is well-seasoned. It is a great addition to stews, rice and beans or lentils.
  • del Pirineo – This sausage from the Pyrenees mountains is hard and smoked.
  • de Teruel – Once again, this is a hard sausage that comes from the town of Teruel, in the region of Aragon. Teruel is famous for sausages and ham, as well. Many people believe that the best ham in Spain comes from Teruel.

Recipes with Chorizo

The following are recipes for Spanish tapas or appetizers that are prepared using Spanish Chorizo:

The following are recipes for main courses that are prepared using Spanish Chorizo:

Shopping for Spanish Foods

We are often asked where to buy Spanish foods or ingredients to make Spanish recipes. There are many sources on the internet that carry Spanish ingredients and foods:

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