Sausages from Spain. Juan Manuel Sanz/©ICEX
The term charcuterie here refers to the sausage-like products in which different mixtures of minced meat, usually pork, are encased in a cylindrical skin then cured or cooked so that they can be kept for a long time. Geography, history and tradition combine in Spain to produce an extensive catalogue of these delicacies which, alongside Ibérico pork, are some of the most characteristic foods in the Spanish larder.
Charcuterie is generally made from pork from the Duroc, Landrace and Large White pig breeds. Ibérico pigs are natives to the Iberian Peninsula and are bred extensively in the holm and cork oak pasturelands called dehesas in south-west Spain. Their natural feed, mostly acorns and other plant products the pigs find while grazing, combined with their capacity for storing large fatty deposits which infiltrate their muscles, provide all the Ibérico products with outstanding organoleptic qualities. The products of the Ibérico pig are always properly labeled (salchichón ibérico, chorizo ibérico, etc.) to distinguish them from white pork products.
Great flavor, whether cured or cooked
In order to make our way through the enormous variety of Spanish sausage products, we should start by looking at how they are made. There are two main families – 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, especially pimentón (a Spanish type of paprika), the main distinguishing ingredient.
Among the cooked products, the most representative is morcilla (black sausage), of which there are many versions. Some products are even cooked and then cured, such as the many butifarra sausages made in Mediterranean areas, 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 used is often black pepper rather than pimentón. An exception which does use pimentón is the famous sobrassada from Majorca. In the rest of Spain, including the Canary Islands, curing is the usual method, mostly for chorizo and black sausage, and pimentón is widely used as flavoring.
A compendium of recipes
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 Burgos black sausage, or chorizo from Cantimpalos (Segovia), both traditional products from Castile-Leon.
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 cocidos, Spanish traditional stews par excellence, 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.
List of food stores in Spain
List of food stores around the world
- Burgos black sausage
- Catalan butifarra sausage
- Botillo del Bierzo PGI
- Chorizo de Cantimpalos PGI
- Chorizo from Pamplona
- Chorizo Riojano PGI
- Cured pork loin
- Fuet from Catalonia
- Lacón Gallego PGI
- Salchichón de Vic PGI
- Sobrasada de Mallorca PGI
- Cecina de León PGI
- Chosco de Tineo PGI
Total number of companies in the Meat Industry sector: 5,105.
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