Feb 16 2023

Choosing Chorizo from Spain - With Carolina González

With so many varieties of chorizo español available, how do you know which to pick? We chatted chorizo with Carolina Gonzalez to learn about Spain’s flavorful embutido

Most of you will have heard about chorizo by now, but do you know what makes this Spanish sausage so special? As well as being the original version (its history dates back to the 17th century), chorizo Español is still made using the traditional old curing processes and only natural ingredients. This includes Spain’s own unique Pimentón de La Vera DOP - which adds the distinct color and flavor to the embutido. According to the Consortium of Spanish Chorizo, there are at least six styles of chorizo from Spain, namely String or Horseshoe shaped, Candle (tapered), Sliced (in a packet), Chopped, Iberian and Fresh. With all these varieties, how do you know which to choose? Fear not, because help is at hand from Carolina Gonzalez, COO of Ibéricos COVAP - the key importer of the largest farming cooperative in Spain. COVAP is a union of 100% Ibérico producers who eschew the intensive farming approach, only rearing and supplying free range, quality Ibérico products from Spain. So let’s chat chorizo then!

Sliced Cured Chorizo full frame

Can you describe chorizo Español in three words?

“Two words will be enough. The Spanish chorizo is unbelievably good.

What differentiates Spanish chorizo from others in the world?

“In Spain you can find many types of chorizo, almost every region has its own recipe, but we all have one thing in common - the Spanish premium paprika DOP Pimentón de La Vera, which gives our chorizo its characteristic rusty red color and smoky flavor”.

Can you tell us about your personal background in chorizo?

“Chorizo is a staple food in Spanish gastronomy - you grow up surrounded by it. You'll find it in your Sunday cocido (typical Spanish stew), or in your merienda (afterschool sandwich). My most vivid memory involving chorizo is with my grandma. She was from the north of Spain and she absolutely loved a very typical chorizo from León that a niece used to send her. She treasured that chorizo. Me being from the south of Spain, I love chorizo Ibérico instead because it has a more complex but natural flavor for my taste”.

Tray with a typical Madrilenian stew

What types of chorizo Español are available?

“Almost every region in Spain has its own type of chorizo, but the most important difference to consider is whether the chorizo is Ibérico or not. Chorizo is made by mixing chopped pork with paprika, plus a different spice blend depending on the recipe used in that area. If chorizo is not Ibérico then it’s typically made with mass-farmed white pork, whereas the chorizo Ibérico is a breed that is native to the Iberian peninsula and is raised as a premium product.

If you are looking for the best of the best then you should look for acorn-fed Ibérico chorizo, meaning that the chorizo comes from pigs raised free-range on Spanish oak pastures, feeding on acorns for at least 60 days of their happy lives. The breed and the feeding gives the meat a very characteristic flavor. The acorn-fed ibérico chorizo is bold and surprising. It has a smoky, intense and earthy flavor unique among its kind.”

Can you share some cooking suggestions for chorizo?

“The Spanish chorizo is usually cured so you can have it as is or cook it by putting it in a stew or frying it. We use chorizo in countless recipes, such as cocido (Spanish chickpea stew), the typical patatas con chorizo (fries, eggs and chorizo), with pasta or in empanadillas. You can find a recipe for chorizo empanadillas on our Ibéricos COVAP blog”.

What wine do you recommend pairing with chorizo Español?

“I would recommend a full-bodied red wine with fruity notes and a little bit of acidity to balance the richness of the chorizo fat and the intensity of the paprika flavor. A wine from La Rioja DOC, Navarra DO, La Mancha DO or Somontano DO. In Spain, because we have many varieties of chorizo, we have many appropriate wine regions to choose from. You won't go wrong with any of them”.

Can you talk about some industry trends in chorizo?

“The Spanish charcuterie industry is a very traditional one. You won't find new flavors or mixes. The industry is focusing instead on sustainability, animal welfare and social and environmental responsibility”.

Plate of macaroni with chorizo

Where can you find chorizo in the U.S.?

“You can find the very best acorn-fed Ibérico chorizo on our website”. 

Thanks Carolina! Ibéricos COVAP lists premium chorizo, such as the Alta Expresión Dry-cured Acorn-fed Ibérico Chorizo weighing in at 1lb, as well as other Trio Boxes or Tasting Boxes with chorizo, to really tickle the palate. For more serving suggestions, we took a look at what the certified Restaurants From Spain chefs are creatively concocting with chorizo on their menus across the USA. In Asheville, NC, Katie Button offers spicy chorizo wrapped in potato chips as a tasty aperitivo. Meanwhile, in New York City, you can try a brunchy butter brioche with spicy chorizo and quail egg at Casa Dani. Or, head over to Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards to try the mollete de pringá - a crispy bun filled with an iconic Seville recipe that features chorizo, pork trim and blood sausage. And, finally, how to get your chorizo fix in Las Vegas, NV? José Andrés has a few options at his Jaleo Las Vegas restaurant - our favorite is the grilled chorizo with olive oil potato and cider sauce. Now you can go ahead and choose your chorizo!