If you’ve even wondered what Portuguese chorizo sausages are made of, read our guide for more facts & information…
Some people might say that Portuguese chorizo sausages don’t exist at all. Here’s the reason why: They would say that a chorizo sausage is a Spanish sausage and a chouriço sausage is the Portuguese one. There are some differences and many similarities, much like the differences and similarities between the Portuguese and Spanish peoples.
In both Spain and Portugal the sausages are encased in intestines. This practice dates from the time of the Ancient Romans. In basic terms chorizo is pork sausage made from coarsely chopped fatty pork and usually seasoned with smoked red peppers and paprika. Chouriço is made with pork meat or pork shoulder and possibly fat, wine, annatto and salt. Annatto is used in food colorings and as a seasoning. It is derived from the achiote trees found in the American tropics. Some understandable skepticism has arisen regarding the Ancient Romans being familiar with annatto.
Both types of sausage involve stuffing meat into tripe and are usually dried over smoke. Authorities on the subject (perhaps self-appointed) estimate that there are possibly hundreds of different types of chorizo sausages in Spain. That certainly opens the door, if not the border, to some different types of Portuguese chorizo.
Irrespective of national origin a chouriço sausage is typically made using pork shoulder, and seasoned with black pepper, salt, garlic, and sweet paprika. By comparison as much as 20 percent of a chorizo sausage’s weight can be taken up by paprika. In a chouriço much of that 20 percent is displaced by garlic and black pepper. Chorizo meat is more typically coarsely chopped pork and pork fat.
The paprika used in a chorizo, aside from being more abundant, is often called smoked pimentón, whereas chouriço makers may only use ordinary paprika. That paprika may not be smoked at all. It seems to be more common for a chouriço sausage to contain red wine. However, if reports about the Spanish concocting hundreds of different types of chorizo sausages are true it would hardly be unexpected for a Spaniard to experiment with adding a bit of wine to his chorizo, perhaps only in secret. He or she might even call it a Portuguese chorizo sausage.
Although Spanish chorizos are abundant in variety they are said to follow certain rules in regard to their girth: a general rule of thumb (or rule of sausage) is that long, thin chorizos are sweeter and short chorizos are spicy, although this is not always the case. If the Spanish chorizos only follow the rules somewhat loosely there is really no telling how closely a maker of Portuguese chorizos might follow them – if at all.
Those in the know also say that Mexican chorizos are entirely different again. Not to mention the Catalan xoriço or the Galician chourizo…whoops I guess I just did.