Like avocados, chorizo is one of those Tex-Mex staples that has seemingly surged in popularity in the last few years. Every day, more and more people are trying chorizo for the first time and discovering that they love it, but the dish’s funny-sounding name and interesting texture can lead to confusion—sometimes with hilarious results.
If you’re just now getting “into” chorizo or have thus far been too scared to try it, today’s post is for you. Here’s a crash course on your new favorite breakfast or brunch protein:
“What is chorizo, anyway?”
Chorizo is a type of spiced sausage popular in Mexico and Spain. Traditionally, chorizo is made out of pork, but beef, chicken, and even soy varieties are now fairly common in grocery stores and eateries. If you’re ordering chorizo in a restaurant and you have some kind of dietary restriction or food allergy, then you may want to ask what the primary protein in their recipe is beforehand—lest you get a nasty surprise later on. One thing to remember, though: unless specifically specified, chorizo is not vegetarian, let alone vegan!
It’s worth mentioning that Spanish chorizo and Mexican chorizo are very different beasts. Spanish chorizo is usually seasoned with garlic and pimenton (smoked paprika), and it comes in two varieties: dulce (sweet) and picante (spicy). Lean Spanish chorizo typically has a similar texture and consistency to salami or pepperoni, but softer, fattier varieties do exist and are better for cooking. Meanwhile, Mexican chorizo—the kind most Americans are familiar with—is typically seasoned with vinegar and chili peppers. Its texture is much looser and “wetter” than its Spanish cousin, and it’s nearly always made with raw pork instead of fermented pork or cured pork.
Spanish Chorizo and Mexican chorizo have dissimilar tastes and textures, so if a recipe calls for one kind of chorizo, do not substitute with the other! You’ll also want to know the difference between the two when eating out. Most Tex-Mex places will have the Mexican variety, while Spanish and “tapa” establishments tend to favor the European kind. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for clarification.
“How do you prepare and serve chorizo?”
That depends upon what kind of chorizo you’re working with. If you’ve managed to get your hands on cured, pre-cooked Spanish chorizo, then it can generally be eaten the same way one would eat salami or pepperoni: sliced and served on sandwiches, chopped and placed atop crackers, or even diced and used as a topping for pizzas and salads. The sky’s the limit!
If the chorizo in question is of the Mexican variety, though, you’ll likely need to cook the stuff first—remember, eating raw pork is never a good idea! But the good news is that preparing chorizo is not terribly complicated. Simply squeeze a generous dollop of ‘rizo into a pan and cook it (med-low heat, no extra oil) until it’s completely separated, is bubbling, and overall looks “done.” Mix the chorizo with a couple beaten eggs and/or diced potatoes, and you’ve got a flavorful treat with which to start your day. Eat it with a fork, wrap it in a tortilla, or add cheese and veggies to make a breakfast taco—again, the sky’s the limit.
“I want to try chorizo! Where can I find some?”
The widespread popularity of Mexican chorizo has made it much easier to find than ever before. Most major grocery stores now stock it; traditional pork (and non-traditional variations of) chorizo can usually be found in the same general area as sausage, bacon, and other breakfast meats. On the other hand, Spanish chorizo may be a little trickier to obtain locally. Gourmet and specialty/ethnic grocery stores might have it in their deli department, but you may wind up having to order it from an online catalogue.
Of course, if you’d like to eat chorizo but are iffy about cooking it on your own, then there’s an easy way to get your fix: hit up your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant and look to see if they serve breakfast entrées. If they do, then 10-to-1, chorizo burritos or tacos will be on the menu.
Whether you’re the kind of person who likes to eat breakfast at the crack of dawn or you’re more of a later-in-the-day “bruncher,” chorizo is a great way to add some spice to your morning. It’s also a fun treat for snacks, lunch, or even dinner. So if you’ve never before tried chorizo, now might be a great time to be adventurous. And if you’re a longtime eater (and lover) of chorizo, then just keep on doing what you’re doing! Let’s keep this trend alive, folks!