A Family Tradition—Making Chorizos

I cannot remember when I first tried Mario’s parents’ homemade embutidos (the Spanish word for all types of sausages and salt-cured meats). I do remember, though, the times I’ve eaten chorizo  or salchichón in a bar, though. These version are too salty or too chewy, too tough or too lean. I suppose, in a way, I’m a total chorizo snob. (Funny when you consider that chorizo is also a slang word for thief.)

A few autumns ago, I accompanied Mario and his parents to their friends’ finca, or estate/property. Really it’s just a  house with a large backyard and a pool. Oh, and now there are a few chickens running around, laying farm-fresh eggs with thick yellow yolks—best consumed fried in olive oil with chichas (known in other parts as picadillo or zorza).

Finca Zamora Spain

Mario and his godmother/cousin enjoying the finca

My in-laws are zamoranos, Zamorans. They are both from small villages in the Zamora province, located in the northwestern part of Spain, in the autonomous community of Castilla y León. As such, they are accustomed to eating good food. When they were children, their mothers cooked what was local, what was in season, and what tasted good. My father-in-law, Jesús, recalls not being able to afford olive oil, an expensive treat. So they cooked with lard. And you know what? My mother-in-law, Pepita, makes some tasty desserts with lard. Pig products were (and still are) king, and thus cured meats are king: jamón, lomo, fuet, chorizo, and salchichón.

When I got to the house, my in-laws and their friends had already put their manos a la obra!

Chorizo making ZamoraChorizo making Zamora

They don’t actually do their own matanza, though I do know a few families that used to (and some that still do!). They do buy only the best meat, though carne ibérica 100%.

The ingredients for a good chorizo are:

  • Pork. 100% Iberian meat. Do not skimp on quality; you will notice later.
  • Paprika.
  • Coarse salt.
  • Garlic.
  • Oregano (optional, but it gives the young chorizo and chichas a great flavor).

Chorizo making Zamora
Look at how pumped I am!


  1. Wash the guts. Yes, I said wash the guts … If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen (or the finca). You may need to remove some fat.
  2. Chop the meat into elongated pieces, but not too thick. This helps when you’re trying to put the meat through the machine (as seen above).
  3. Knead the meat. Once the meat is chopped and the condiments prepared, they are mixed together, until the paprika and salt are well distributed. It should look red.Chorizo meat
  4. Let stand for several hours or overnight.
  5. One person should fill the machine and turn the crank while the other stuffs the sausage.Chorizo making Zamora
  6. Once the sausage is finished, it’s time to tie the free ends.Fresh chorizo salchichón
  7. You take the uncured chorizo and salchichón to a cool, dry place to cure. Mario’s parents use an old village house and hang them from the rafters. (Really!) The ideal temperature is cold, but not much lower than 0C/32F.Chorizo salchichón curando curingChorizo salchichón curando curingChorizo salchichón curando curingChorizo salchichón curando curing
  8. Don’t forget to enjoy some chichas with red wine, the perfect way to coger fuerzas on a cold autumnal day!

Chichas picadilloCooking chichas cocinando chichasEating chichas Comiendo chichasEating chichas Comiendo chichas

You may not believe it, but after this mid-morning “snack,” we ate arroz a la zamorana for lunch. This rice dish is full of, again, all the pig parts: ear, hoof, ham, sometimes even snout. You know, a light lunch.

Arroz a la zamoranaArroz a la zamorana

What’s your favorite: chorizo, salchichón, or some other embutido?

Let’s Link—Week 3

Let's Link!

And we’re back with another link list! Sorry for the delay, but last weekend I was visiting Zamora and Mario’s family for the November 1 holiday, Todos los Santos, or All Saints’ Day in English. In Spain, families tend to visit the graveyards to put flowers on relatives’ graves. We had a merienda consisting of chocolate a la taza (basically melted chocolate, thick and delicious), chorizo, Zamoran cheese, fried bread, two kinds of cake, wine, and liqueurs. Other, more-widespread culinary traditions include eating Huesos de Santo (Saints’ Bones) and buñuelos de viento, which are filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, or chocolate.

Here are some of my favorite links from the past two weeks:

Do Different Languages Confer Different Personalities? Ah, a great question. I often feel more eloquent as well as funnier in English. In Spanish, I’m much less likely to express an opinion, because I find that it’s easier to quash. I also have a fear of looking silly, so this leads me to say less.

For Mind and Body: Study Finds Mediterranean Diet Boosts Both. For those of us living in Spain and consuming loads of olive oil, good news! The diet boosts both cerebral and physical health! I’m always happy to hear what I’m already doing is good for me.

The American Smile. I found this article, by fellow expat blogger (in Germany) Alex, to be hilarious and mind-opening. I never thought of this! Do Americans have a distinct smile? I know we smile a lot and especially on cue. But most of the time my smile is genuine; I’m not faking it. Also, I agree with Alex that flossing is not just made up by dentists. Flossing is totally important!

Recipe: Chorizo Burger with Paprika. It seems the UK has gone “mad” over chorizo, and this recipe just adds more evidence to the pile. A chorizo burger? Has the UK gone too far?

The Guiri Complex. What is really like to live in another country? Sometimes I get the picture that people think we live in a constant vacation world, that our lives are only filled with sunshine and rainbows. What is it like to miss things from the US? Should we always be searching those things out or treat them as what they are—a treat? Cat explores this question.

And now in Spanish …:

Esquelas curiosas publicadas en ABC. Esquelas are like death announcements, in which the family of the deceased puts a notice in the newspaper. The Spanish newspaper ABC recently published this article for Halloween of some of its more curious notices, including one that lamented that the deceased forgot to pass along a recipe for “pickled paella”!

Una docena de los nombres de chica más puestos en España. Recently I read about some of the most popular girls’ names in the US, and this article supplied what I’d wanted since: a list of the most-popular Spanish girls’ names. Obviously, María leads the list.

Thanks for reading! Any links you’d like to share?

Fiesta de la Vendimia—Grape Harvest in Toro

As they pass you by, the parade participants hand out mini cups of wine, sloshing a bit on the ground … but who cares? It’s Toro and wine is abundant today. Others hand out slices of spicy chorizo or slice off some jamón serrano for you to sample. I was lucky, as I seemed to get more wine and food than the rest of my party. We called it the efecto guiri, the guiri effect.
Guiri Fiesta Vendimia Toro

Continue reading

Giveaway Winner Announced

Thanks to all who entered last week’s giveaway! I really enjoyed reading the comments and hearing when people started to read my blog. I wanted to pick you all as winners!

I decided to use RANDOM.ORG to pick my winner. I plugged all your names into a spreadsheet (multiple times, if you like[d] me on Facebook or follow[ed] me on Twitter). Then I generated a random number, which just so happened to be 16.

Random Number Generator

And #16 on my spreadsheet was none other than …


CASSANDRA from Gee, Cassandra!

Congratulations! I hope you (or your friends/family, since I know you’re in Spain) enjoy the gift card. I will be in touch with you via email to arrange the details.

Thanks to all who entered, and don’t forget to like Y Mucho Más on Facebook!