Fiestas patrias: choosing the right chorizo
September 10, 2017
Chile’s Independence Day celebrations, the Fiestas Patrias, are fast approaching. This is Chile’s favourite celebration, several days when everyone eats, drinks and parties without restraint. Work for most people will grind to a halt this coming Friday, 15 September and by Friday evening, people up and down the country will have fired up their barbecues. A much-loved part of Chilean cuisine during this period is the choripán, a chorizo (sausage) in a bread roll. So, for anyone visiting or living in Chile who wants to try Chilean sausages for themselves, here are a few pointers.
The different types of sausage in Chile
First of all, you may be wondering what the difference is between chorizo and longaniza – I certainly was till I looked into it. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not actually their ingredients or flavouring or level of spiciness, but their format that makes them different. Chorizos are shorter (around 10cm) and stringed together. Longanizas are about twice as long and not usually attached to one another.
I haven’t found any good definition of the difference between chorizo de campo (also known as chorizo blanco) and chorizo parrillero, two of the most popular kinds of sausages in Chile. Clearly they are different in colour, with the former being pale and the latter being an almost alarming shade of orange-brown. In terms of ingredients, they seem to be similar but the list of ingredients on all the chorizos parrilleros we tried was slightly longer and included something to add colour, sometimes paprika or Chile’s smoked chilli powder merkén and sometimes more chemical-sounding ingredients. My other observation is that the parrillero variety of chorizo, being designed for cooking on the barbecue, seems to give off more fat, while the chorizo de campo seems dryer during cooking – even inclined to burn – but this does not translate into a lower calorie count, as you’ll see below. I’d be very happy to hear from you if you have any insights into this.
What goes into a Chilean sausage?
Good question: you’ll need a magnifying glass to read the ingredients list and forget finding ingredient or allergen information on any of the company websites. I was very surprised to discover that some sausages contain beef or chicken as well as pork. This isn’t always detailed on the front label; you have to get that magnifying glass out. If you have allergies, do check that list – the ingredients vary substantially between brands.
Sounds obvious, but don’t forget – as I did – to check the expiry date (one pack I bought was three weeks out of date). It’d be a real shame to find yourself on a public holiday with food you can’t eat.
Choosing the right chorizo for you
Now if you are trying to decide which brand of chorizo to buy for this year’s celebrations, look no further. An international panel of sausage-lovers has nobly tasted its way through 10 of the different products on the market and ranked them by taste preference. And what’s more, we’ve analyzed them by price and by calorie count. Read on to get the results.
The taste test
7 people of different ages and nationalities blind tasted 10 different sausages and gave each one a score. Below the products are ranked by their combined score to reveal our tasting panel’s favourites. A big thank you to Loreto Fuchslocher, John Ewer, Kate Whitlock, Natascha Scott-Stokes and Kathy Baxter, as well as a taster who prefers to remain anonymous, for helping me out in this noble cause!!
- 1) Joint winners were both from La Crianza, each with 35 points:
- La Crianza Chorizo de Campo
- La Crianza Chorizo Patagónico
- 3) Cecinas Llanquihue Chorizo Parrillero – 31 points
- 4) La Preferida Chorizo de campo – 29 points
- 5) Jumbo’s own brand products tied in 5th place with 25 points:
- Artesanal Chorizo blanco
- Jumbo Artesanal Longaniza
- 7) Receta del Abuelo longanicilla – 22 points
- 8) La Preferida Chorizo Parrillero con Carne Angus – 19 points
- 9) Receta del Abuelo chorizo de campo – 16 points
- 10) Receta del Abuelo chorizo parrillero – 16 points
The calorie count
If you’re watching your waistline, then you may be interested to know which chorizos are most fattening.
Chart 1 shows the weight and calorie count for each type of chorizo.
Chart 2 levels out the playing field by comparing the number of calories per 100g for each type of sausage.
I’d love to hear your experience with Chilean sausages. Do you have a favourite brand? Any insights into the types available?
And to accompany your chorizo?
And of course, no choripán experience is complete without pebre and a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany it. Click here for a recipe for pebre, Chile’s very own spicy salsa. Many people put a generous amount of this salsa on their bread, then add the sausage. Some also add mashed avocado, lightly seasoned.