Chorizo: Spanish vs. Mexican. So, what’s the difference? Is it taste, texture, smell? Well… how about all of the above. The word chorizo means sausage in Spanish. Pretty plain huh? Well, not really! Whether you choose the Mexican or the Spanish variety, they are both full of rich, robust flavors. So, let’s get back to those differences. The first and foremost difference lies in the fact that Spanish chorizo is cured, Mexican chorizo is not. It is often found raw (rope form) or partially cooked in the form of links. Both varieties also vary in taste. Spanish chorizo is flavored mainly with paprika whereas Mexican chorizo’s derives its punch from chilies; its texture is also different. The Spanish variety tends to be firmer than its Mexican counterpart. When working with it in rope form it is best to either cut it while it is still frozen, or cook it thoroughly, allow it to cool and then slice it. It will be a lot easier, trust me on this one!
In Spain, a tapas party or any gathering for that matter would not be complete without chorizo being present in someway, shape or form. Spaniards take their chorizo very seriously and many small towns across Spain boast to produce “the best chorizo in the country.” Many years ago I had the privilege to visit one those small towns (La Alberca, a quaint medieval town) where I was able to taste their local chorizo. Needless to say, it was amazing! The Spanish use chorizo in multiple ways: to make empanadas, by itself, or in combination with other ingredients such as garbanzo beans or in the famous Fabada Asturiana (the Spanish version of the French Cassoulet).
Although this recipe is pretty unassuming, and perhaps a tad homely, if I may say so, it makes up for appearance in flavor. Cooking the sausage twice and simmering it in the wine infuses the meat thoroughly. This is definitely the tapas dish you can make in the spur of the moment. Sprinkle with parsley for added contrast. I usually like to serve this with slices of artisan bread and a wedge of Manchego cheese.
If you want to bring the flavors of Spain to your home I have several great recipes to share with you.
Prueba de cerdo is a classic tapas dish of thinly sliced marinated pork with Spanish paprika that is grilled fast and is so easy to make.
Croquetas de jamón y pollo take a little effort but you will be rewarded with a delicious appetizer that is crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
If you visit bars in Spain one popular tapas dish is mushrooms in sherry sauce served on a nice crusty bread.
Empanadas are savory turnovers filled with meat or cheese. Most are fried but I like to cheat and bake mine using pre-made pie crust.
Chorizo in Wine Sauce
Here is a classic Spanish tapas dish for chorizo in red wine sauce. A quick and easy dish with simple flavors and sure to please.
- In a skillet brown chorizo in olive oil and cook thoroughly.
- Remove from pan and place on a cutting board. Allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes.
- When cool slice in 1/4" slices on a bias.
- Toss chorizo pieces back in skillet (medium high) with olive oil, and shallots and brown slightly.
- Slowly add the wine scraping up bits with a wooden spoon.
- Add the bay leaf. Turn down heat to medium low and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- If serving individual portions, arrange 3-4 pieces of chorizo on each plate. Spoon sauce over them.
- Serve with toast triangles and sprinkle with parsley.