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Introduction to Morcilla

Spanish Blood Sausage

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Morcilla
Bocadorada/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Morcilla or Blood Sausage is popular both as a tapa and as an ingredient in stews. Morcilla is generally a thicker sausage, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches across, stuffed with pig’s blood, rice, onions and spices, although like all Spanish cuisine, ingredients will vary from region to region. Morcilla from Burgos has the reputation for being the best in Spain.

Morcilla as a Tapa or in Stew

To eat as a tapa or snack, Spaniards generally cut morcilla into thick slices (1 inch or so) and fry it in a bit of olive oil, then eat it with bread. It is also a favorite ingredient in stews and bean dishes, and is placed in the pot with other ingredients to simmer.

La Matanza

Morcilla is a sausage, like chorizo that is very much a part of the ritual of the “slaughter” or la matanza in Spain. Extended family, friends and neighbors get together in small towns all over to sacrifice their fattened hogs to make chorizo, morcilla and jamon. Like most agrarian societies, Spaniards make good use of just about every part of the pig from the hooves to the jowls and ears. The blood doesn’t go to waste either! It is quickly drained into a large pan and immediately taken to the kitchen where morcilla preparation will take place.

Variations

Morcilla typically has onion, garlic, sweet and spicy paprika, oregano, pig’s blood and rice. Variations include the addition of clove and/or cinnamon to the list of spices. In some regions, squash is used instead of rice, which completely changes the texture and flavor of the sausage.

No matter which ingredients are used, it is worth trying morcilla, even if the idea of eating pig’s blood is not appealing to you. Like many dishes containing ingredients you may not be accustomed to eat, you may be very surprised at how much you like it! Many tourists arrive in Spain and try morcilla before they know what’s in it and like it! So, buen provecho!

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