Chorizo is essentially an unassuming pork sausage. But all you need is one bite to taste its spicy Hispanic roots and realize the world of possibilities for using it in the kitchen. Chorizo’s bold, zesty chile flavor is complemented by the warmth of cinnamon and cloves and balanced by herbs and spices like oregano, paprika and garlic. And pork — ahhh, pork! — imparts its unparalleled richness and depth of flavor.
First things first: there’s Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo, and they’re completely different things: Mexican chorizo is raw, made with fresh pork, herbs and spices. It must be cooked before eating. On the other hand, Spanish chorizo is smoked and can be eaten as-is, sliced like salami and often sold chilled. This is an important distinction, so be sure you know what you’re buying.
Mexican chorizo is sold in sausage-like tubes or links; they can be sautéed or grilled whole, like any other sausage, but another more versatile option is to cut open one end, squeeze out the filling and sauté it. Then the crispy, zesty crumbles can be used in myriad ways: mixed into any pasta dish or sauce where you usually use ground beef — like lasagna Bolognese or carbonara; added to scrambled eggs, omelets or frittata; crumbled atop papas locas or nachos; added to quesadillas or tacos; or mixed into chili con carne.And it’s easy to keep in the fridge so you always have some on hand.
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