Chorizo: Spicy Spanish sausage: Pronunciation:. Cho-ree-tho. (Spain), Cho-ree-so (South America, USA). Cho-rits-oh (Error).
If you’re wondering just how impactful the right combination of food and beer can be, then this is as good a place to start as any. As I’ve mentioned in the intro, my own epiphany came via the humble marinated anchovy: as they’re a little trickier to track down than chorizo, though, this provides a great starting point.
Chorizo is the spicy Spanish sausage which is enjoyed not only the length and breadth of the Iberian peninsular, but now across much of the western world, too. Ten years ago, hardly anyone in the UK had heard of it; these days, if some Come Dine With Me contestant hasn’t included it chopped up with their scallops or their Mediterranean chicken thighs, then something’s gone badly wrong. Now available in all supermarkets and delis across the nation, the stuff’s great on its own but pair it off with a glass of icy-cold lager and you’ll understand what the Spaniard meant when he told me that chorizo and beer was the reason God invented bread. You can cook chorizo in cider or red wine and it’s a perfect bedfellow for a whole range of foodstuffs ranging from rocket to mussels so don’t be too surprised to see it cropping up at regular intervals throughout this blog.
To enjoy chorizo, bread and beer, simply do the following.
- Go to your supermarket and head for the deli counter or cooked hams section. There amongst the Bavarian smoked, Prosciuto and Salamis you’ll find what you’re looking for. Don’t go for the flat-pack / thinly sliced variety – we’ll save that for later: we want the long, red sausage bent in two and often contained in a plastic wrapping. Alternatively, your deli should sell small versions of this, hanging by string behind the counter.
- Now the bread! Choose any one of the following: A baguette, French stick or a loaf of sliced white bread. I like to recreate the crunch factor enjoyed in Spain so I usually toast the bread or sliced baguette/stick.
- Beer: Euro Lager / Pils (as opposed to Czech pils) is great: San Miguel, Cruzcampo, Estrella Damn, Mahou and Alhambra are Spanish and designed with culinary gems like chorizo in mind so you can’t really go wrong.
- Home: Turn on the grill to medium high or turn the hob on to the same. Put 2 pieces of white bread in toaster (if you want it crunchy, put in a few minutes before cooking and let it stand). If using a French loaf, cut in half and slice down middle, or cut into rounds of around 2 – 3cm thick. Slice the chorizo into 12 – 14 pieces of around 1 – 1 ½ cm thick and put under grill, in frying pan or griddle – you don’t need oil! Soon the scarlet paprika coloured juices will start to run. After a minute or two, flip a piece over. You want to catch it just before it starts to blacken, though I’m certainly not averse to a bit of the black stuff. When the chorizo starts to crisp, turn all the pieces over and leave until the same effect is achieved. Arrange the chorizo evenly on both slices of toast, on top of your toasted rounds or, if using sliced French loaf arrange between pieces or place on top of one piece.
- Take a bite and a slug of cold beer. This is one of those combinations where a few base ingredients go a long way. With the amalgamation of the sweet and salty paprka-infused cured pork, playing nicely against the subtler baseline background of the bread, the beer is provides a nice contrast in playing a dry, crisp straight bat to those big flavours. The malt notes of the beer play alongside what may well be a bready, almost biscuity flavour from your lager (depending on what you’ve chosen). A light, bitter finish will round the whole thing off, with the carbonation – bubbles – clearing it all away. (See the piece on Boquerones for more on this.)