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What is chorizo?
Chorizo is a pork sausage that originated in Spain. It has a bright, reddish hue and a fragrant, spicy aroma that comes from pimentón or Spanish paprika. It’s usually encased in natural casings made from intestines, but artificial casings will work just as well.
What is chorizo made of?
Chopped or ground pork is the main ingredient of chorizo, which is seasoned with garlic, salt, and Spanish paprika or pimenton. While it’s usually spicy, the type of pimenton used can actually result in either a spicy (picante) chorizo, or even sweet (dulce) chorizo!
While chorizo is traditionally red because of all the spices, there’s actually a green variant! Instead of paprika, green chillies and cilantro are used, giving the chorizo a green colour.
Does chorizo need to be cooked? Can you eat chorizo raw?
The traditional Spanish chorizo is fermented, smoked, and cured – just slice it up and it can already be eaten and enjoyed as is! The version that Portugal has, which they call chouriço, can also be eaten raw though a popular way of preparing it is by flame-cooking slices over alcohol.
Spanish colonies have their own versions of chorizo as well! However, here’s whether things get changed up! Another common and popular kind of chorizo is Mexican chorizo. Unlike Spanish chorizo, this kind isn’t cured but is fresh – so it definitely needs to be cooked!
If you’re following a recipe that calls for Spanish chorizo, you definitely shouldn’t replace it with Mexican chorizo! And vice-versa for recipes that call for Mexican chorizo. These two kinds have completely different flavour profiles because of the way they’re prepared, so be wary of this!
How do you know if chorizo is cooked?
You’ll know it’s pre-cooked or ‘cured’ by the density of the sausage. If it can be sliced without it falling apart or getting mushy then it’s cured!
How long does chorizo last?
Generally, chorizo will last for around a week or two if kept in the refrigerator. But can you freeze it to extend its shelf life? You bet you can! Frozen chorizo will still retain its quality for up to ten months! Beyond that, it’s still safe to eat but it won’t taste its best.
Where to buy chorizo
Chorizo brands like Hans and Continental can be found in any Coles and Woolworths! You can also find chorizo in smaller specialty shops, especially those that specialise in meats.
When buying chorizo in the supermarket, it might not always indicate whether it’s Spanish or Mexican, or if it’s fresh or cured. Here’s one of the most useful tips: look at where it’s being stored! If it’s kept in the cheese or deli section, it’s probably Spanish and can be eaten raw! But if it’s kept in the meat freezers, it should be cooked like a Mexican chorizo.
How to cook chorizo
Fresh chorizo is often greasy, so there’s no need to add oil when cooking it. A little water can be added so that it won’t stick to the pan. Remember to cut away the casing! It’s pretty much ground pork, so once it starts to brown, you know it’s cooking! Stir constantly so that it doesn’t burn, and drain the fat after.
We’ve mentioned two popular kinds of chorizo, Spanish and Mexican, and now, let’s take a closer look at some of the best dishes that you can make out of them!
While chorizo isn’t exactly healthy, it is definitely filling! Mexican chorizo, sauteed with its casing removed, will make a flavourful topping for breakfast while pairing well with potatoes and eggs!
A popular way to eat chorizo in Mexico is to use it as a pizza topping! You can hold back on the hot sauce here, since chorizo already has a spicy kick!
For a warm and filling meal, consider whipping up some chorizo soup! Chopped chorizo coupled with fresh vegetables will make a rich spicy soup! If you’re using fresh chorizo, it’s a good idea to saute them separately first to reduce the grease.
You can use either Spanish or Mexican chorizo for this, depending on what kind of flavour you want! Even though Spanish chorizo can be eaten without being cooked, cooking it can give it a whole different flavour! And if you’re feeling fancy you can even pre-roast some chorizo in the oven for that charred earthy finish.
Instead of meatballs, you can chop up some Spanish chorizo and throw them into your favourite pasta sauce! You can do this at the very end – cook your sauce as usual, then add the chorizo just before you serve it.