SAUSAGES - THE SECRETS
& COOKING ARTICLE
by tasting any of the many varieties of Spanish sausage,
warm, romantic and flamboyant images are conjured up:
The intense Spanish sun, the seductiveness of flamenco
and the passion of the people and the music.
most famous of the Spanish sausage, the chorizo, captures
each of these images with every mouthful. Its vibrant
red colouring although synonymous with the passion and
heat of the country, is a result of the fine balance
and exact use of local herbs and spices which make up
this truly typical delight.
sausages can be hot and fiery, sweet and mild, earthy,
peppery, succulent, complex or simple. Whatever the
variety, behind each mouthful lies an old and honest
side of Spain which is steeped in tradition and family
art of making the perfect Spanish sausage began in the
home, with recipes and special touches being passed
down through the generations. The secret of the Spanish
sausage, lies not only in the ingredients or family
variations, but poured into each one is the Spanish
lust for life, the energy and vibrancy of the people,
the love of the family and enjoyment of outdoor living
which is just impossible to recreate.
entire Spanish families would gather together to make
their years supply of sausages during the annual Matanza
or humane pig sacrifice. Young and old would gather
to take part in this celebration and the resulting products
would last a whole year. While nowadays, not really
necessary, this tradition is still carried out and you
can really taste the difference!
member of the family has an important role, from the
making of the breadcrumbs and the shredding of the fat
to the filling and tying of the sausages. It is not
uncommon to see up to ten people round the table. Great
grandmothers and young infants alike are all involved
in the process. A tiny but important part of the atmosphere
that is filled with fun, laughter, love and tradition
goes into each and every sausage made. It is this warmth
of family life and friendship that truly makes the Spanish
sausage so special.
amount of planning and preparation, which goes into
producing the sausages, is truly amazing. Preparation
for the chorizo for example begins as early as August
when in villages everywhere you can see strings of sweet
red peppers hanging form balconies and terraces to slowly
dry out ready for use in some three to four months time.
Spanish Morcilla or black pudding has various stages
of the making beginning a day in advance with the peeling,
chopping and cooking of an enormous amount of onions.
Then comes the mixing of fresh pigs blood which is always
done by hand on the first morning of the Matanza in
preparation for the final putting together of ingredients
later that evening.
sausage always follows a basic recipe but they are adapted
by families to suit their own tastes and these personal
touches are passed down and continued through the generations.
The black pudding although based on a few simple ingredients,
blood, onions and bread, always varies slightly from
family to family. Some people add pine nuts while others
add walnuts. Rice, cinnamon or anis can also be added.
However it is made, the end result is always a succulent,
melt in the mouth treat packed with warm earthy flavours
and spices. Of course regular tasting along the way
(usually by the male members of the family!) together
with a drop or two of the local "tinto" is
essential in creating the perfect pudding.
to the famous chorizo, some like theirs hot and others
prefer the sweet mild version. So while there is the
fiery chorizo packed full of cayenne pepper and garlic,
equally popular is the use of sweet paprika along with
sun dried red peppers to create a more delicately flavoured
and use of the final result can vary from place to place
too. They are traditionally tied in 10 - 15 cm lengths
and then hung to cure when at last they can be enjoyed
in sliced with bread and olive oil. The chorizo cured
for less time is ideal in cooking and delicious in a
pot of lentils and tomatoes for a spicy winter warmer.
There are also the rich, hot miniature ones ideal for
cooking on the barbeque and enjoyed on a warm summers
Salchichon is another great cured sausage at its best
served with cheese and bread for a lovely Tapas dish.
This cured pork sausage is usually long and thin containing
whole peppercorns and sometimes a hint of cloves or
cinnamon. It is traditionally hung in the dark during
the beginning of the curing process and in some places
it is smoked before being air dried. The end result
is a mild delicately spiced sausage which melts in the
all Spanish sausages though are cured. The Spanish Salchicha
is similar to the Salchichon in appearance but contains
parsley and usually white pepper. This long, thin fresh
pork sausage is best rolled up, skewered with a sprig
of thyme or rosemary and cooked over a barbecue or open
known as "Butifarra" the famous Catalan sausage
is plump, rich and juicy. Made from the best bits of
pork it is delicious grilled or fried and its added
herbs and spices make it not dissimilar to the British
Cumberland sausage. Once fried, the sausage can be cut
into chunks and conserved in olive oil.
course in the modern age as with everything else, things
have moved on and sausages are produced not just on
the family scale. The people behind the making of the
modern day Spanish sausage however, have all experienced
or indeed still do enjoy being part of the lively, passionate,
family orientated and traditional practice of age old
sausage making. So, to taste an authentic Spanish sausage
is to enjoy a piece of the tradition, passion, warmth,
freedom and romance of this beautiful country that is
not likened to anything else.
by Gayle Hartley
Copyright 2006 Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com
27 January 2007
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