The Spanish chorizo has gained worldwide fame for flavour, character and versatility in cooking, ask any Spanish butcher and his recipe will without doubt be the best, secret ingredients and all . . . Spanish chorizo (pronounced: chor-ee-tho) is a cured pork sausage widely available in Spain in many different varieties. Chorizo can be smoked in the north of Spain whereas in the south it is simply left to cure unsmoked both are good but where chorizo is concerned nothing beats pure Spanish quality and that means searching out the local family run businesses that have been making these sausages for generations.
We are talking about the kind of chorizos you see hanging behind every carniceria in Spain, the strings of paprika infused pork sausages hand tied together in the blink of an eye by family members that once stood behind the rustic counter of the now bright and shining work tops of the rural village butchers. Run by their sons and daughters, there is something about quality hand made produce like this in Spain that will never die and nor should it as artisan chorizo really is in a class of its own.
To taste good chorizo is to experience a real flavour of Spain, sliced chorizo in a vacuum pack may have its place as a quick tapa but when it comes to cooking the artisan chorizo excels. Chorizo can be used as an ingredient in many dishes from soups and stews to being braised in red wine and barbequed along with chicken and other meats. There is also something about chorizo with beans such as the Asturian dish Fabada Asturiana which works with such perfection only a fool would dare to change the traditional recipe. When cooked or lightly fried the chorizo releases all its flavours and colours turning and flavouring partners like chicken a paprika red and adding that unmistakable Spanish twist on tapas or main meals.
Fresh not raw Chorizo by its very nature is a cured sausage, most fresh chorizos will have been cured for around seven to ten days and feel soft yet firm to the touch. Young chorizo sausages such as these can be classed as cooking chorizos which are great for the barbeque, grilling or using as an ingredient. Chorizo should be a deep red in colour and you may often notice a white mould on the outer skin which is a sign that the chorizo has been hung and cured in the right conditions just like a fine cheese. When buying freshly cured Spanish chorizo from Spain it will usually arrive vacuum packed (depending on type, variety and supplier) once the pack is opened the sausages should be hung in a cool dry place where they will continue to cure and firm up.
Fresh chorizo sausages straight from the vacuum pack are exactly that fresh and although cured your chorizos will need a little air to circulate around them. Put them back in their natural environment, release them from frustration and let them cure to perfection in natural air where you can then slice them for the next casserole or tapas dish. Chorizo sausage storage does tend to be and will continue to be a burning issue, depending on how they come, type and where they originate. For comprehensive, easy to understand advice from the experts and from Spanish producers contact www.orceserranohams.com
The barbeque is the chorizos best friend and where it arguably performs best, grilled chorizo deserves a status all of its own in the gastronomic world over red hot charcoal or naked flame and no matter which strength you choose (mild or spicy) those typical flavours of Spain will ooze out over the flames ending up on the tapas table, in the casserole or perhaps the rustic broth producing a fabulous and unique Spanish flavour.