Just as the hot dog is an American classic, chorizo is a traditional favorite in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. And just as hot dog styles (red hots versus NYC-style versus all-beef versus pork-beef combo versus skinless — you see my point) vary throughout the country, the ingredients in chorizo vary depending on the part of the world you’re in.
The staple ingredients of this dry-cured (read: ready-to-eat) sausage in Spain are pork, garlic and paprika. Chorizo in La Rioja, in the north of Spain, contains both sweet and hot paprika, while chorizo in Andalusia, in the south of Spain, contains black pepper, cloves and dry white wine along with the standard ingredients.
Moving slightly west to the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal’s chourico (shore-EE-so) is a chunky, juicy dry-cured sausage, heavily seasoned with paprika and garlic. In Lisbon, chourico is often heated up on a grill and topped with heated aguardiente, or fire water, a brandylike alcohol.
Mexican chorizo is uncured, which means you need to cook it before you can even think about enjoying the delicious meat. Traditionally, Mexican chorizo is a mix of pork, chiles and flavors like coriander and ginger, with the added tang of vinegar.
I love pairing chorizo with clams, bell peppers and, surprisingly, pears, which balance out the smoky heat of the chorizo with a fresh, sweet flavor. All of these types can be used interchangeably, but don’t forget to cook the fresh Mexican variety before eating! And now I present to you Chorizo 25 Ways. ¡Ole!
- Many traditional Mexican recipes call for the chorizo casing to be removed and the meat to be crumbled while cooking. You can easily make your own chorizo at home. Bobby Flay makes chorizo to add into in his Spanish Tortilla with Chorizo, Piquillo Peppers and Gurroxta Cheese recipe; Guy Fieri adds tequila and adobo sauce for an extra bite in his Homemade Chorizo recipe.
- Briny shellfish and spicy, smoky chorizo is a match made in flavor heaven. Try out Kelsey Nixon’s Brothy Clams and Chorizo (pictured above) or Roasted Mussels with Spicy Pork Sausage.
- Spanish-Style White Bean, Kale and Chorizo Soup is a classic Spanish comfort food, filling but not overindulgent.
- Orange zest brightens up a hearty meal of Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes. Toss everything into the oven and you’re done! Nigella Lawson thinks ahead and instructs us to make a quesadilla with the leftovers. Like you really needed an excuse to make a ‘dilla.
- Served at any time of day, hot or cold, tortilla Espanola is a classic Spanish dish that is usually made up of eggs, onions, potatoes and whatever else you have lying around in your kitchen. Try out Emeril’s Spanish-Style Potato and Chorizo Omelet with a Garlic and Pimento Mayonnaise.
- Fry. Your. Chorizo. Molotes with Fresh Tomato Salsa (traditional street food in Oaxaca, Mexico, breaded with corn masa and fried) and Nadia G.’s Chorizo Corn Dogs with Grainy Maple Mustard are a good place to begin your chorizo-frying experience.
- Eggs a la Paloma, baked eggs in tomato sauce, is the Mexican equivalent to Eggs in Purgatory or Shakshuka; it’s a perfect way to use up leftover tomato sauce and a great excuse to spice up breakfast. Oaxaca cheese is stringy and similar in taste to Monterey Jack, but with the texture of mozzarella.
- Nachos in a bag. Don’t pretend like you don’t love this: Treva Sue’s Baggy Nachos.
- Stuff everything with chorizo. Seriously, just about any vegetable you can think of should be stuffed with chorizo. Stuffed Piquillos, Mexican Potato Skin Bites and Stuffed Mushrooms all do the trick!
- Kickin’ Meatball Parmigiana with Diavolo Sauce — the mozzarella goes IN the beef and chorizo meatballs. Genius.
- Heat cured chorizo (similar to bacon) to render the fat, which makes for a super flavorful substitute for olive oil to saute the veggies in for Cuban-Style Short Ribs.
- Latin Burgers with Caramelized Onion and Jalapeno Relish and Red Pepper Mayonnaise may sound like a lot of work, but this trio of burger meats (sirloin, chuck and chorizo) comes together in just over an hour.
- Queso Fundido is a cheese, meat and pepper casserole. It’s a lot like lasagna without pasta getting in the way of your cheese and chorizo.
- Pigs in a blanket, Mexican style: Guachup is a guava paste and vinegar condiment, a perfect complement to Chorizo Rolls.
- Roasted garlic adds a smooth, slightly sweet flavor to just about any meal. Slice off the top of a head of garlic to expose the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and roast until very tender. When the garlic cools a little, you can squeeze out the garlic paste. I love slathering it on crostini. Rachael Ray mixes hers with some honey to bring a sweet, roasted flavor to her Chorizo, Roasted Butternut and Zucchini Chili Pot.
- Jaime’s Chorizo Enchiladas is a simple recipe with layers of flavor, featuring rehydrated ancho and guajillo chiles. Relatively low on the Scoville scale, these chiles bring just enough heat and smoky flavor to wake up your taste buds without setting your whole mouth on fire.
- Fougasse is France’s answer to both focaccia bread and calzones, because it is the name of a flat bread dough and also the name of the stuffed sandwich that you make with the dough. Try your hand at bread making with Chorizo and Thyme Fougasse.
- Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because each individual thread is picked from the saffron crocus by hand. Luckily for us, a little goes a long way and gives Saffron Rice with Chorizo and Peas a beautiful color and flavor.
- Chorizo and Preserved Lemon Couscous is no ordinary side dish. Make the preserved lemons a week before you want to eat them. Need this couscous salad right now? Pick up some store-bought preserved lemons at a Middle Eastern specialty store. Israeli couscous is pearl-size and made of semolina; it’s very similar to pasta and is cooked in the same manner.
- Beef and Chorizo Chili Cheese Nachos are a winner for almost any event. The juice from pickled jalapenos is a great secret weapon for cooking — it brightens up heavy, meaty dishes and gives these nachos a tangy kick!
- A strata is made for brunch; you make this egg casserole the night before (the longer it sits, the better it tastes) and cook it when the guests arrive. Rachael Ray’s Mexican Chorizo Strata is Sunday morning’s best friend, served with avocado sour cream. Peeling the skin off chiles can be super easy: Place them under the broiler until blackened, let them cool in a bowl and the skin will rub right off.
- Weeknight roasted chicken just got a chorizo makeover with Emeril’s Chorizo-Stuffed Roasted Chicken.
- Socarrat, the crispy rice at the bottom of paella, is the magic behind Hearty Spanish Paella with Sherry, Chorizo and Shrimp. Resist the urge to stir your rice while cooking; the bottom layer will crisp up and reward you with lots of tasty socarrat.
- Scallops and Chorizo, the ultimate quick dinner, is on the table in 10 minutes. Pair it with a bright and citrusy Herb and Chickpea Salad to round out a light, summery meal.
- Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day if it’s Kelsey Nixon’s Breakfast Tacos with Chorizo, Egg and Potato.
More 25 Ways: