July 18th, 2012
Let’s follow on from the post on kitchen paraphernalia….So now you know your Cazuela from your Chino and the Sartén is out ready for breakfast….but what’s the best sausage to buy? Honestly, have you seen the choice in Spanish supermarkets? Whole aisles are dedicated to the not so humble sausage, just picking one type may take up a whole afternoon!
Head to the nearest bar and order up a café con leche and a tostada smeared with fresh tomato and take a few minutes to consider the different sausages on offer – you’ll be less baffled with a little meaty knowledge!
It can be a bit of a supermarket challenge….rows and rows of charcuterie and fridges full of piquant pork…where to start? The first thing you will notice is the heavy use of Pimentón and Paprika, giving a rich red colour and tasty hint of heat to most of the varieties available.
If you can read this without thinking of the old TV ad with the Walls sausages dog I shall send you a medal….!
Sausages up North
Holidaying in Galicia? How nice…look out for the tasty Androlla. Usually eaten with potatoes, it is made from the end of a slab of a piece of Bacon, with rib meat added to form a tasty sausage that forms a good introduction to Spanish variations.
In León, a similar sausage is called a Botillo. This one is tastier than it sounds! The name comes from the Latin word Botellus, which translates as intestine. It´s actually the intestine stuffed with different bits of pork, including the tongue and when it´s a t 20% meat then the stuffing is mixed with breadcrumbs and herbs and spices….first dried and cured then smoked over a wood fire…after 4 days it is then boiled up to cook it maybe with a local head of cabbage. The stewing liquid doesn´t go to waste and is served as a hearty soup with hunks of bread.
Imagine a bracing Winter´s walk on a deserted beach and then coming home to your holiday rental home and lighting a log fire before settling down with a steaming bowl. Plain, honest and good food….you won´t go too far wrong.
And if you´re reading this from more Northerly shores, then you shouldn´t have too much trouble imagining the Winter´s day either….sorry!…..Well, it is July after all!
Choose a Catalonian menu and you´ll be sure to see Botifarra somewhere there…but what exactly is it? It is actually inspired by the ancient Roman variation and contains pork and lots of spices. Today it also comes in many variations, such as:
- Black – like a Black Pudding
- White – made with meat that contains no fat similar to Irish White Pudding
- Botifarra Catalana – a larger variation, treat it like a boiled ham
- Arroz - containing rice to bulk it out
Some of the variations you may eat raw as they are already cured, but you´ll also find them boiled up with the local white beans – try a recipe out for yourself in the kitchen of your Catalan holiday home...Buen Aprovecho!
Oh So Nice in Osuna
Staying in Catalonia, or Catalunya if you prefer, travel to Osuna or Olot to try out the famous Fuet, called Vic Fuet. My favourite cured sausage, it can be found in most supermarkets all over Spain so give it a try, there´s a subtle difference in taste to the other types.
Have you noticed just how fashionable Spanish cooking is today? You can´t turn on the TV without finding a cookery programme where they´re chopping and slicing Chorizo, but do remember this or I´ll come after you…Chor-eeth-o, never Chor-itz-o!!
Cured, ready sliced for sandwiches, or raw, it has to be the most recognized of all Spanish sausages – cook with the raw type – which contains more fat – and allow the rich colour of smoked Paprika to infuse the dish. Any minced meat dish in fact, is enlivened by a few slices thrown in the pan while you brown the meat, give it a go!
Try Chorizo Riojano from La Rioja, or a local one wherever you choose to enjoy your Spanish holiday, you might find it flavoured with different herbs, or heavy on the garlic, although, to be honest a little garlic breath won´t matter if you are intent on eating lots of Chorizo in the first place!
And before you buy, remember that the long tin Chorizo will be sweeter in taste, and the shorter ones will be likely to be fiery and spicy….
Ah, I saved the best until last…
Morcilla, that strange black sausage probably served to you as tapas with a slice of bread, or if you are lucky enough to enjoy a Plato Alpujarreño for breakfast in the La Alpujarra region of Andalucía. In Burgos,you can try their variation, and probably the most well known, which is made with added rice.
How can something so irresistible be so gory to make?! When the family pig is traditionally killed in the cold Winter months – not me, if we had a pig it would probably be a pet sitting on the sofa – the Spanish housewife will hold a basin to catch the blood. My 13 yr old daughter made it this year and has explained it to me….that´s as close as I will get! I knew I should never had got her hooked on all those vampire books!
She stirred the blood in a figure of eight to stop it from clotting and then mixed it with a little offal, fried onions and spices before attaching the gut to the machine and pushing the mixture through to make a finished Morcilla. These were then hung up to air dry, to be used all year as is the tradition with all the products from the same pig.
I love it, I just don´t like the idea of it!
There are lots more forms and variations of Spanish Charcuterie to choose, buy and try…stay away from the familiar and remember, don´t be afraid to choose something that looks a bit unknown, the fun is always in discovering new tastes!