Spanish Meat Products and Sausages
Classical Spanish sausages are:
It shall be noted that those sausages may be made differently in South and Latin America. Mexican Chorizo is also much hotter and vinegar is often used and in the Dominican Republic (Carribean) orange juice is added.
Two characterictics make those three sausages distinctly Spanish:
- Use of pimentón - Spanish grown and smoked paprika which gives it its deep red color and unique flavor (don’t confuse with Hungarian sweet paprika). The paprika itself can be found as either sweet (dulce), bittersweet (agridulce) or hot (picante). After harvesting the little peppers are placed in drying houses where they are smoke-dried with oakwood for about two weeks. Pimentón although not generally available, even in gourmet shops, have no substitute for use in authentic Spanish cooking. It can be ordered on the Internet.
- The sausages are air dried (not cooked).
These sausages are almost always made from high quality pork, the butt being the preferred choice. The main spices are pimentón and garlic. There is very little difference between longanizas and chorizos as far as production methods are concerned. Chorizos vary in length from 6-8” to one foot long. They contain a slightly higher dosage of pimentón than longanizas but not as much as sobrasadas.
Sobrasadas are sausages from the Balearic Islands (Majorca and Menorca islands) which are similar to chorizos but are spiced very heavily with pimentón. The islands have a warm semi-tropical climate with more humidity and under such conditions it is difficult to dry-cure meat. This is the reason that sobrasada is cured by mixing it heavily with a locally grown paprika and sea salt. Pork casings are used and the sausages are hung to cure in the open air, usually for between one month and eight months, with the timing dependent on the size and shape of the casing. Sobrasada is a soft textured sausage (like a soft pâté) that can be spread on bread or added to simmered dishes. Since 1993 it has been recognized by the European Union with the quality seal of the Protected Geographical Identity.
La Morcilla (Blood Sausage) is used in virtually every Spanish kitchen. It is commonly added to most other meals and stews, but you can also slice and fry it, or cook it on your outdoor grill.
Butifarra (La Morcilla Blanca - White Blood Sausage) is made almost identically as the original blood sausage (Morcilla) but without blood. It is commonly called butifarra or white blood sausage (La Morcilla Blanca).
Blood sausages made in other countries are classified in a similar manner: English Black or White Pudding, French Boudin Noir (Blood Sausage) or Boudin Blanc (White Blood Sausage). White blood sausages are often made with rice and milk.
Sometimes butifarras will contain blood as well but will be made correspondingly:
Butifarra Negra Catalana (Black Catalan Butifarra). Butifarra is perhaps the most popular Catalan (Barcelona area) sausage of them all. When you stop to eat at any restaurant in the countryside, invariably you will be served butifarra in one form or another.
Salchichas are common sausages that borrow recipes from known sausages from other countries. For example, Salchicha Polaca will be one of Polish sausages, Salchicha Turca (Turkish Sausage) or Salchicha Inglesa (English Sausage). Those sausages are about 4-5” (10-15 cm) long.
Salchichones (Los Salchichones) differ from regular sausages (salchichas) in that they are to be stored for a long time, often until the next slaughter. They are stuffed into larger diameter hog casings and ox casings are also used.
There is very little smoking employed when making Spanish sausages. There are a few salchichas or salchichones which are smoked but most sausages are air dried. Little smoke that is applied can be considered to be part of the drying process which was always performed in North European Countries such as Poland or Germany where meats were cold smoked for a long time. Needless to say those sausages developed a different style and much more pronounced smoky flavor. The climate in North Europe was ill suited for air drying meat products and thus the smoking art has developed. Almost all meat products in Poland are of the smoked variety. The Spanish climate was perfectly suited for drying meat products and there was less need to apply smoke to preserve meats. What is similar is that almost all meat products in Spain and Poland are made from pork.
South American - Latin American - Caribbean and Philippines Sausages
All these countries owe much of their culture to mother Spain and culinary arts are not an exception. Not surprising, all Spanish sausages are popular there although different climatic conditions have a profound influence on the methods of their manufacture. Most sausages made in Spain were air dried as the country was blessed with dry prevailing winds for most of the year which were ideally suited for air drying products. There is no vinegar present in Spanish recipes as that would unnecessarily add moisture and the purpose of drying is preserving a product by eliminating the moisture from it. The products were hung in dry cool areas for a year or two without any adverse effect to its quality.
In other Spanish speaking countries the climate is hot and humid and air drying would be severely limited. An exception would be Argentina and Chile which are large countries and contain many climatic zones. Countries situated in the Caribbean Basin are part of the tropics and are hot and humid and that will create unwelcome mold on sausages.
All those countries add vinegar (sometimes wine) as these acidic fluids help to preserve food at least to a certain degree. Mexican sausages are much hotter than those made in other countries and recipes call for a hefty dose of hot peppers. Many countries (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Philippines) always faced energy problems and a large percentage of the population did not own refrigerators. A very common method was to keep sausages in barrels filled with lard (rendered pork fat).
Spanish Meat products carrying European Certificates of Origin:
- Jamón de Huelva, PDO 27/01/1998
- Jamón de Teruel, PDO 21/06/1996
- Jamón Serrano, TSG 13/11/1999
- Guijuelo PDO, 21/06/1996
- Dehesa de Extremadura, PDO 21/06/1996
- Lacón Gallego, PGI 08/05/2001
- Salchichón de Vic; Longanissa de Vic, PGI 29/12/2001
- Jamón de Trevélez, PGI 15/11/2005
- Cecina de León, PGI 21/06/1996
- Sobrasada de Mallorca, PGI 21/06/1996
- Botilo del Bierzo, PGI 10/10/2001
The complete list for all European countries can be obtained from the European Commision/Agriculture & Rural Development: