One of my best friends is a slightly odd, rather manic Spanish bloke named Miguel. You might have seen him on the telly with me from time to time. Swarthy, talented and blessed with a smile that burns like magnesium, he’s pretty hard to miss.
Miguel likes to say that we’re perfect partners: he has the looks and I have the knowledge. Well, the flocks of twenty-something turtledoves who’d like to roost in his nest would seem to confirm at least one side of that theory.
Not surprisingly, his passion for all things Spanish lurches on unimpeded. Which is a good thing, to be honest, as he shares willingly the cooking of his mother, his grandmother, and as many more generations as you have time for.
And so, over the course of the years we worked together I came to learn about the central role chorizo plays in Spanish food. Not just chorizo, but a whole range of extraordinary sausages fashioned from pork, lamb, beef, spices, and several things you’d rather not discuss. Good chorizo should be cured then air-dried, giving it a characteristically dense texture.
The key to a great chorizo is the spice blend. Made mostly of pork and pork fat, chorizo is redolent with pimenton (smoked paprika), fennel seeds, garlic and chilli. It is mildly hot, possessing a rich and pronounced flavour profile. This makes it suitable to use in a range of dishes, from classic rices such as paella and arroz abanda, to simple tapas. And Miguel can always be relied upon to produce chorizo con heuvos (chorizo with eggs) to resuscitate me on the morning after a big night.
Chorizo can be cooked, or simply sliced and eaten. The same rules apply for most cured sausages from around the world: Hungary’s csabai, Brasil’s longanisa, Portugal’s chouriço and the Philippines’ linguinça just to name a few.
Chorizo con huevos