In order to make our way through the enormous variety of Spanish sausage products, we should start by looking at how they are made. For starters, they are generally made from pork from the Duroc, Landrace and Large White pig breeds There are two main categories of products: raw products which are then dried or cured, and cooked products. The paradigm of the former is chorizo, which is matured not only by time and air, but also by the salt and spices that are added to the pork, with emphasis on pimentón, the main distinguishing ingredient.
The most representative of the cooked products is morcilla (blood sausage), of which there are many versions. Other products are first cooked and then cured, such as the many butifarra sausages made in Mediterranean regions (and particularly in Catalonia), and the smoked sausages that are typical of Galicia and other mountainous, rainy parts of northern Spain.
In the Mediterranean regions of Catalonia, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands, most of the pork products are cooked, and the seasoning of choice is often black pepper rather than pimentón. One exception in this region which does use pimentón is the famous sobrasada from Majorca. In the rest of Spain, including the Canary Islands, curing is the usual method, mostly for chorizo and blood sausage, and pimentón is widely used as flavoring.
In any case, there is not a single region or district in Spain without its own ancestral recipes and sausage-making traditions. Most of the products retain their local name and some have become known far from their place of origin, such as morcilla de Burgos, or PGI Chorizo de Cantimpalos (Segovia), both traditional products from Castile-León.
Charcuterie is usually consumed as it comes but many types may also be roasted, grilled, fried or used as ingredients in a large range of regional dishes. The well-known fabada (a bean stew made with Asturian faba beans) would be unthinkable without the chorizo, blood sausage and pork fat from Asturias. The same can be said about the fresh chorizo in patatas a la riojana, or the many versions of stew known as cocidos which would not be the same without their local charcuterie products. The huge range of flavors, aromas, shapes, textures and colors of Spanish charcuterie is practically unique the world over, and represents a distinctive contribution to western pork gastronomy.