The chorizo is king of the pork sausage in Spain, and traditionally it uses natural casings made from intestines, a method used since the days of the Romans.
Spanish chorizo is made from coarsely chopped pork and pork fat, seasoned with garlic, smoked paprika and salt, with the paprika giving the sausage the famous reddish colour.
There are literally hundreds of regional varieties of Spanish chorizo, both smoked and unsmoked, and some may contain herbs, and other ingredients.
As an example, chorizo de Pamplona is a thicker sausage with the meat more finely ground, whilst chorizo Riojano comes from La Rioja, and has its status protected as a product by the European Union.
Chorizo is made in short or long and hard or soft varieties. Leaner varieties are suited to being eaten at room temperature as a tapas, whereas the fattier versions are generally used for cooking.
A rule of thumb is that long, thin chorizos are sweet, and short chorizos are spicy, although this is not always the case, because this after all is Spain!
If you have never come up with a recipe involving chorizo, then here´s one for a chorizo and pea risotto.
1 tbsp oil
200g chorizo, chopped and peeled
300g arborio risotto rice
2 tbsp vinegar(better if white)
- 1.2 litres chicken stock
200g frozen peas
60g parmesan cheese(finely grated), plus extra to serve
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, tip in the chorizo and fry until it is crisp and all the oil has been released. Remove a quarter of the chorizo with a slotted spoon and set aside
Tip the rice into the pan, stir to coat it in the oil and toast for a min or so, then pour in the vinegar. Once the vinegar has evaporated, add a ladleful of the stock, stir then, once absorbed, add a bit more. Continue doing this for about 20 mins until most of the stock has been absorbed and the rice has swollen but still has a slight bite.
Tip in the peas, parmesan and the remaining stock. Give everything a good stir. Once the cheese has melted, season with black pepper, then divide between bowls, topping each portion with the remaining crisp chorizo and extra grated parmesan.