Chorizos are kind of sausages and very popular in Spain and Portugal. If you are not aware of this food item, here is some information and nutritional facts about this delicious dish.
If you have ever traveled to Spain or Portugal, you must have come across one of their most popular sausages, also known as chorizo. Traditionally, made from pork, there are numerous regional varieties, but most use smoked Spanish paprika as the main seasoning, which imparts their characteristic red color. They can be sweet or dulce, if mild paprikas are used, and really spicy or picante, if a stronger variety of paprika is added. Chorizos can be eaten fresh or air-dried and must be cooked before eating. Sometimes, apple cider or white wine is used to cook them. In Spanish cuisine, the air-dried variety is more popular, and it is smoked and cured, and can be eaten as is.
Chorizos have also found their way into Mexican and American cuisines due to the Spanish influence. The Mexican variety is quite different from the Spanish one, and paprikas are replaced with chili peppers. They can be eaten barbecued, grilled, fried, served as appetizers along with cheese and olives, sliced and eaten cold in rolls and sandwiches, and go well when paired with alcoholic beverages.
Nutritional Information for Chorizo
It is a great source of protein. Since beef and pork are the chief ingredients, it provides non-essential amino acids that are required by the body for repairing muscle tissue. This spicy pork sausage also provides our body with thiamine, especially when eaten with beans and lentils. Thiamine is very important since it helps our body to use amino acids efficiently. They can be a good option if you want to increase the level of vitamin B12 in your body. B12 is necessary for the healthy functioning of the nervous system and also helps the body in iron absorption. Another helpful ingredient found in chorizo is selenium, which is an excellent antioxidant. Garlic is also a prime flavoring agent which helps to reduce blood pressure and aids the digestive system. The nutritional facts for a 1-inch long pork and beef chorizo are provided in the table below.
|Total Dietary Fiber
|Vitamins D2 and D3
|Vitamin E (alpha-Tocopherol)
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
|Total saturated fatty acids
|Total monounsaturated fatty acids
|Total polyunsaturated fatty acids
Regional Variations of Chorizos
The Spaniards love Chorizo Iberico de Bellota, the finest sausage relished in Spain. It is made with the best grade of meat, which is derived from pigs which are specially fed acorns. They have a wide variety of dried chorizos, such as the Pamplona-style chorizos, thick sausages with finely ground meat, similar to a salami. Chorizos from the regions of Salamanca and Valladolid are known as cantimpalo, and another Salamanca favorite is the soria, shaped like a brick and made with chunks of pork loin. The leon herradura sausages are distinguished by their horseshoe shape. Another dry variety is the blanco, and as the name suggests, this sausage is white in color. It’s made with pork loin, and seasoned with spices and garlic. A hard variety is the de Leon, which uses strong garlic flavoring, and can be consumed in both raw or cooked form.
The varieties that need to be cooked prior to consumption include, the Bilbao, del Pirineo, and de Teruel. The Bilbao sausage comes from Bilbao and is native to the Basque country. This subtly flavored sausage is semi-cured and air-dried, and tastes better when eaten with stews and rice and bean dishes. Chorizos from the Pyrenees mountains are called del Pirineo, and are smoky-flavored. From the region of Aragon comes de Teruel, another hard sausage, which is either grilled or cooked on a fire.
In Portugal, they are known as chouricos. Available in assorted shapes and sizes, the main ingredients used are pork, paprika, and wine. They can be eaten sliced, or can be flame-cooked in specially designed glazed clay pots over alcohol.
Borrowing heavily from the uncooked variety of Spanish chorizo, the Mexican varieties are primarily made from pork, although other meats like beef and venison are also sometimes used. Mexicans use ground meat and their sausages have much higher fat content and their seasonings differs from the Spanish versions. Almost always cooked before eating, this sausage makes abundant use of chili peppers, garlic and herbs like oregano and cumin. As a popular breakfast item, chorizos are fried and mixed with eggs. They are also mixed with refried beans and relished with burritos and tortillas.
Chorizos are popular in parts of New England with a high density of Portuguese immigrants. They are also sometimes referred to as linguicas and are a popular pizza topping. In areas with a high concentration of Hispanic population, chorizos, along with sauteed potatoes, are eaten as a breakfast item.
Chorizos are mainly popular in countries like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Colombia. Brazilian variety is very similar to their Portuguese counterparts. In Argentina, beef is also sometimes used in preparing these sausages, and they are usually mild in taste. Most of these countries eat cooked chorizos wrapped in bread rolls.
Popularly referred to as longanizas, they are prepared using native spices and apart from pork. Chorizos are also made using beef, chicken, and tuna.
Even though chorizo is a good source of protein and certain vitamins, it does not exactly figure as a healthy food item, because, after all, it’s a sausage. It’s very high in saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol levels and are one of the main causes of heart disease. Use lean cuts of meat if you want to cut back on fat and calories. But one thing’s for sure, chorizos will be one of the most delicious and hearty meals you can ever have.