Going Beyond Jamón: Spanish Cured Meats that We Can’t Stop Eating
Chances are you’ve heard about Spanish ham, jamón ibérico, and all its delicious glory. However, did you know that there are a plethora of other Spanish cured meats out there that deserve your attention? Here are 9 meats that you need to sink your teeth into and understand why we’re so in love!
Jamón ibérico is the king of Spanish cured meats, a delicacy that Spaniards treasure. Spanish ham is full of flavor that isn’t overly salty and marbled with tasty fat that helps to enrich its taste. The cream of the crop is jamón ibérico de bellota, which comes from free-range Iberian pigs that graze on acorns for at least two years. It can be pretty expensive, but after just one bite you’ll understand why.
Salchichón is a pork sausage that is simply seasoned with salt and pepper and then left to dry for a period of time. Since very few spices are mixed in with the sausage, you’ll really get a good taste of the high-quality pork coming through. Like all other Spanish cured meats, the secret to serving salchichón is slicing it very thinly to let the natural aroma shine through.
Fuet is a pork sausage that hails from Catalonia and is very similar to salchichón. The main difference is that this sausage is quite thin in diameter, usually around 35mm wide. Fuet is a mix of lean pork and lard with spices thrown in. It is then stuffed into casing and left to dry out for about two weeks. The result is a rich, sweet taste with notes of salt and pepper. Since fuet is a thin sausage, one little sliver makes for the perfect bite!
Lomo is a whole pork tenderloin that is slathered in garlic and pimentón de la Vera (Spanish paprika) and left to dry. The curing process takes about 3 months, during which the spicy aroma grows stronger and bolder. Lomo is a lean meat, so it doesn’t have the oily fattiness that many sausages do. Wrap a thin slice around a bit of Spanish cheese for a bite that will blow your mind!
Chorizo is similar to salchichón, but pimentón de la Vera again makes an appearance to add a punch of flavor to this most delicious of Spanish cured meats. The pimentón can either be mild or spicy, so you can find chorizo with varying degrees of heat. The spices also give it a lovely, dark red color as well. Chorizo is delicious on its own, but adds new depths of flavor when it becomes a component in dishes like Spanish omelet or lentil stew.
Chistorra is another fatty pork sausage that contains garlic, Spanish paprika, salt and pepper, and hails from Navarre. When you compare it to chorizo, it is usually a bit spicier and much thinner in diameter. Commonly, chistorra is grilled or fried and nestled in a loaf of crusty Spanish bread and eaten as a sandwich. However, this sausage can be prepared in a number of ways, so don’t limit yourself to trying just one!
Morcilla gets its dark, black color from its key ingredient: pig’s blood. Ground pork, blood, onions, rice and spices come together to make this unique Spanish sausage. They say that the best of which comes from Burgos, in north-central Spain. Typically, morcilla is cut into small portions and pan-fried, then served over bread. Morcilla can also be used in stews, such as cocido madrileño, for extra flavor. This sausage really demonstrates how Spanish cuisine puts an emphasis on not wasting food, as even the blood of the pig serves a purpose.
Botifarra is another pork sausage that comes from Catalonia, however this one is a bit more complex as there are so many variations and ways to eat it. Raw botifarra can be grilled and eaten with calçots and white beans, especially during springtime barbecues. Also there are a variety of cured botifarras that contain different ingredients depending on the type. Some may have pig’s blood, a number of spices, egg, or rice mixed in with the pork meat. Just like other Spanish cured meats, these are best just thinly-cut and paired with tasty bread or a delicious Catalan wine.
To round off our list we have sobrassada, a spreadable sausage that you can slather on bread, just like a paté. It is a specialty of the Balearic Islands where the locals like to spread it on their toast in the morning for a hearty breakfast. Meat from local pigs is mixed with paprika, salt and spices and left to dry. However, it doesn’t harden like other sausages do. It stays nice and soft, making it easy to spread and eat. Feeling bold? drizzle some honey over it to enjoy it just like the locals do!