Spanish Meats and Sausages

Sausages today have little to do with classical products of the past. Today, there are no rigid rules and manufacturers select meat cuts or meats from different animals that would not have been chosen in the past. The same applies to spices; we have the whole list of additives that were not known before. On a plus side, the practice of using starter cultures to control fermentation is a positive contribution to the manufacture of fermented and dry sausages. The only sausages that will conform to the standards or expectations from the past are the sausages that have received the European Certificates of Origin. They have to be done the way they always have been produced and they are the real classical sausages.

Embutidos

To understand better Spanish sausages, it is necessary to master the definition of “embutido.” Spanish verb “embutir” translates into “to stuff” or to fit. As all sausages are stuffed into some suitable casings they are rightly called embutidos, but there is a little dilemma here as hams are considered to be embutidos as well. The hams are large pieces of meat which are not stuffed like sausages, so there is a little discrepancy here and it is best just to accept the fact for granted.

Embutidos by its definition cover all types of stuffed sausages regardless of the type. Stuffed in casings pork tenderloin are also embutidos. Fresh sausage, dry sausage, hot dog, mortadella, frankfurter, bratwurst, blood sausage, liver sausage, grill sausage, cooked and smoked sausage – they all are embutidos.

Spanish sausages (embutidos) can be divided into the following groups:

Morcillas (Blood Sausages)

Spanish morcilla is a cooked in water sausage made with rice, blood and back fat. Part of back fat is often replaced with pork dewlap (fat part under chin). Popular ingredients salt, pepper, pimentón, oregano, garlic, parsley, cumin, hot pepper. No other country has a richer and more diversified selection of blood sausages (morcillas) than Spain. Blood sausages are popular in most countries of the world except the USA, however, Spanish morcillas are in the class by themselves. Morcilla is an important ingredient in famous Spanish pork and beans stews, the best known is Fabada Asturiana.

There is Spanish morcilla variety known as Morcilla Blanca which is made without blood. The processing steps, material selections and ingredients are the same as the ones for morcilla, however without blood the sausage develops a lighter color and is called Morcilla Blanca (blanco means white in Spanish). This type of blood sausage is produced in many countries:

England – White Pudding (English call blood sausage a “pudding”, i.e. Black Pudding or White Pudding).
France – Boudin Blanc (blanc means white in French).
Poland – Biała Kaszanka (biały means white in Polish, blood sausage is usually called Kaszanka or Kiszka Krwista).

Chorizos

Chorizo is made all over Spain and it is a universal understanding that a quality chorizo must be made with quality pimentón which is smoked paprika. Pimentón was brought to Spain from South America so obviously chorizos made before the time of Christopher Columbus did not include pimentón. Originally chorizo was made with lean pork, usually loin, however, today it is impossible to predict what pork cuts the producers choose. The main ingredients of a chorizo are salt, almost always a large amount of pimentón and garlic. Chorizo made without pimentón is often called chorizo blanco (white chorizo). Oregano is often added and hot and sweet pimentón are sometimes mixed together. Spanish chorizo is a small dry sausage which is usually smoked.

Sobrasadas

Sobrasada is a dry sausage made from pork, salt, ground pepper and pimentón. Stuffed in a large diameter hog casings. The sausage originated in Spanish Balearic Islands (Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera), but nowadays it can be encountered everywhere in Spain.

Longanizas

Depending on a region longaniza can be made from lean pork, semi-fat pork, including some offal meat (lungs, heart), it can be just air-dried or it can be smoked. The choice od spices is also more diverse and they are made with pepper, garlic, pimentón, nutmeg, aniseed and vinegar. Pimentón is applied in smaller quantities than in chorizo.

Butifarras

Butifarra is a cooked in water sausage that can be made with blood or without so its manufacturing process remains related to production of morcillas. They are made from lean meat and back fat, pork belly, occasionally lungs or even ears. Common ingredients are salt, pepper, nutmeg, cloves. Butifarras that include blood are called Butifarras Negras (negro means black in Spanish).

Butifarra

Butifarra

Butifarra Negra

Butifarra Negra

Botifarra

Botifarra is Catalan name for butifarra so it is popular in Catalonia (Barcelona) and also in Balearic Islands (Majorka, Menorca). Like any blood sausage Botifarra is cooked, however, it is often added to other dishes or grilled and served with beans.

Salchichones

Salchichón is a dry sausage made of lean pork and back fat. Typical ingredients are salt, ground pepper, whole pepper, and often sherry wine. Salchichón is stuffed into large diameter hog casings.

Salchichas

Salchicha is a term that covers almost any fresh and mass-produced sausage. The sausage can be produced from any meat: pork, beef, sheep, goat, chicken. Sausages such as hot dog, bratwurst or grill sausages; they all can be classified as salchichas. Salchichas are not fermented and dry sausages.

Liver Sausages

Spanish liver sausages do not have their own distinctive name like for example Morcillas (blood sausages). They usually inherit the name of “salchichón” or “salchicha”- followed by “higado” (liver in Spanish).

Some examples:

Salchichón – de - higado (salchichón with liver) which can be simplified as sausage with liver
Salchichón de higado con trufas (salchichón with liver and truffles)
Salchichón de higado de oca (salchichón with liver of goose)

Salchicha de higado (salchicha with liver) which can be simplified as sausage with liver.

It will be in vain to look for Spanish liver sausage that starts with the word “higado”.

Fiambres (Galantinas)

Meat Jellies, Meat Loaves, Head Cheeses – all those products are classified as Fiambres (Galantinas). The meats are precooked, the mixture is stuffed in casings or packed in molds and cooked in water or baked in oven. What they have in common is that they are eaten cold where other sausages like chorizos can be eaten raw or cooked. Some emulsified sausages for example Mortadella are cooked only once yet also belong to this group.

Queso de Cabeza

Queso de Cabeza (queso=cheese, cabeza=head) is a head cheese, also known as brawn, souse or sulz in English. Spanish head cheese also goes by the name queso de chancho, queso de cerdo o queso de puerco when an animal head (usually pig) is used as one of its basic materials. This product, however, can be made with other meat cuts rich in collagen (connective tissue), for example front (picnic) shoulder, pig legs or feet.

Patés (Pastas)

Patés are made with pork, poultry or rabbit liver emulsified with back fat (or belly fat) and with spices. Then they are placed in molds and slow- cooked in water or baked in oven.

Lomo Embuchado

Lomo embuchado is Spanish dry-cured pork loin.

If the loin comes from pigs of Iberian breed, a distinction is made and we speak of loin Iberian embuchado . There are no appreciable differences in their manufacture, but the healing period is longer. The embuchado loin should be eaten raw, cut into thin slices and served as a tapa, sometimes in a sandwich.

Spanish Regions

There are 17 autonomous regions in Spain and each one produces meats and sausages. The sausage name starts usually with the sausage type and is followed with the name of the region where the product was made. Examples:

Morcilla Asturiana – denotes a blood sausage made in Asturias
Morcilla Extremeńa – blood sausage made in Extremadura
Morcilla Toledana – blood sausage made in Toledo (Toledo is the city in the province of Toledo, Castile-La Mancha region.
Morcilla Gallega – blood sausage made in Galicia
Morcilla Riojana – blood sausage made in La Rioja and so on.

This naming convention applies to all products, be it morcilla, chorizo, longaniza or other sausages.

The Spanish regions are: Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Country, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile-La Mancha, Castile-Leon, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Region de Murcia, Navarre and Region de Valencia.

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).

The list of Spanish Sausages

The following list includes known Spanish Sausage. The blue links lead to Spanish Sausage Recipes that are listed in our Sausage Recipes Index.

Spanish Meats and Sausages 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
  • Chorizo de Cantipalos, PGI 2011
  • Chroizo Riojano, PGI 2010
  • Morcilla de Burgos, PGI 2016
PDO

PDO - Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) - covers the term used to describe foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognized know-how.

PGI

PGI - Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) - the geographical link must occur in at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation.

TSG

Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) - does not refer to the origin but highlights traditional character, either in the composition or means of production.

The complete list for all European countries can be obtained from the European Commision/Agriculture & Rural Development

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