Meat product made from various cuts of the white pig, mainly rib and tail meat, marinated and stuffed in casing, before being smoked and semi-cured.
Sinewy, moist and non-uniform texture, its taste ranges from spicy or moderate notes to very intense flavors. When fresh it has an intense aroma, resulting from the garlic and paprika marinating process and smoking with oak and holm oak wood. Once cooked the characteristic notes of cooked lean appear, as does the aroma of the salting and natural spices.
It is characteristically oval in shape due to the gut in which it is encased, and has a rugged external appearance, firm to the touch and dark red in color. The piece weighs between 500 and 1,600 g (17.63 – 56.43 oz), and when cut it has a deep red color, characterized by regular portions of the main raw material. Humidity must be less than 65%, the fat to dry extract ratio less than 48%, and the protein to dry extract ratio more than 37%.
Production / Processing method
The companies that produce the botillo sausage reproduce the basic elements of the homemade production process of rural slaughterhouses.
Firstly the pork cuts are selected and sliced into regular-sized pieces, with their corresponding lean, in the following proportions: 65% to 90% rib meat, 10% to 20% tail meat and other cuts, mainly tongue, cheek, shoulder and chine, up to a maximum of 20% (no one piece can account for over half of this percentage).
Salt, paprika, garlic, authorized additives and natural spices are then added. The ingredients are mixed, kneaded and stuffed into the pork gut, which has been salted and marinated to achieve perfect color and preservation.
One of the main ingredients used in marinating El Bierzo botillo is pimentón (a type of Spanish paprika), obtained by grinding dried red peppers. Similar products made in adjoining geographical zones do not contain pimentón as, unlike El Bierzo, red pepper is not a commonly-grown crop.
The third stage of the process involves smoking for a minimum of one day over natural oak or holm oak wood. The smoking process, carried out on the cold product, is totally traditional. The wooden pyre is lit and the smoke produced is in direct contact with the sausage, with no artificial controls (such as filters or fluidizers).
The product is finally cured in drying sheds for at least two days, removing any water it contains and ensuring the botillo reaches perfect consistency.
The total process has an overall minimum duration of five days, with an average of approximately nine days.
Geography / Relief and climate
El Bierzo, with a surface area of 2,759 km2 (1,714 square miles), is the largest of the Leon areas in Castile-León, located on the border with the regions of Principalty of Asturias and Galicia. It is situated in a depression surrounded by mountainous formations, with altitudes exceeding 2,000 meters (6,500 ft). These mountains contain the oak and holm oak forests which provide the wood needed to smoke the botillo.
There are three distinct geographical areas:
- Bajo Bierzo: also known as Hoya Berciana, it includes all areas under 700 m (2,300 ft).
- Alto Bierzo: the area between 700 m (2,300 ft) and 1,000 m (3,280 ft).
- Montaña Alta del Bierzo: this area is found above 1,000 m (3,280 ft), and surrounds the Hoya Berciana.
El Bierzo combines an Atlantic and Mediterranean climate, with cool winters and frequent rain, especially at the end of spring and summer.
The north-westerly winds reach the Bierzo area and explain its link to Spain's wetter areas, with average rainfall of 645 mm (25.41 in), which reaches over 1,000 mm (39.4 in) in some areas.
Its temperatures, which are milder than in other areas in the province due to the mountainous barrier surrounding the depression, as well as its high rainfall, determine the smoke curing of the sausage, as exclusively cold and air-based curing is not possible.
Consejo Regulador de la IGP Botillo del Bierzo
C/ La Iglesia, 2
24549 Carracedelo (León)
Tel: (+34) 987 048 900
- Spanish Ministry of Agriculture
It is characteristically oval in shape due to the gut in which it is encased, and has a rugged external appearance, firm to the touch and dark red in color.