Top tips to get the most of chorizo

6 ways to get the most out of chorizo in your cooking

by Great British Chefs 24 July 2020

We tend to slice, fry and simmer it, but the intense flavour of chorizo makes the Spanish cured sausage an ingredient ideal for experimentation. From mayonnaises and broths to incredibly indulgent crisps, here are some ways to make the most of Spain’s most beloved culinary export.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

When it comes to charcuterie – that age-old method of combining ground meat with salt, stuffing it into casings and leaving it to dry and cure – no one does it quite like the Spanish. Iberico, lomo, fuet, Serrano, Bellota: these words (among many others) are synonymous with quality and, along with hundreds of others, make up the incredible selection of Spanish cured meats (plus the regions they come from). None, however, have captured our hearts quite like chorizo.

This red sausage, often a little spicy, usually very garlicky and always deliciously rich, has the ability to instantly imbue a dish with its incredible flavour. Most commonly sold in the classic horseshoe shape ready to be sliced up and cooked with (but also available thinly sliced ready to eat and as a fresher, softer sausage), it packs a punch that few other cured meats can hold a candle to. It’s why chorizo is such a popular ingredient to cook with; as it heats up, the fats and oils inside the sausage render out of it, mingling with whatever else is in the pan.

While chorizo is fantastic fried until crisp, simmered in sauces or sliced thin to add to sandwiches or adorn pizza, top chefs know that it can offer so much more. The rendered fat and oils can be used to create all sorts of wondrous things, while cooking the sausage in different ways results in delicious infusions, textural contrasts and knockout sauces. Take a look below at six ways chorizo can be used beyond the norm and up the flavour factor of your next dinner.

Oil

If you’ve been throwing away the rendered oil you fry chorizo in, you’re missing a trick – it’s an incredible thing to have in your fridge for future dishes. Use it to create intense dressings for salads, fry chicken, eggs or fish in it for extra flavour, stir it through potatoes or lentils; it’s a wonderfully versatile ingredient which instantly adds bags of taste. If it’s quite thick, then simply whisk it into a little vegetable or olive oil to loosen. You can also just cover already fried chorizo in a neutral oil and leave in the fridge for twenty-four hours to infuse.

If you’re truly dedicated to the cause, then you can make a chef-quality chorizo oil from scratch. Take a leaf out of Alyn Williams’ book and simply add vegetable oil, finely diced chorizo and a little water to a saucepan. Bring it to the boil and cook until the water has evaporated; this way the chorizo has plenty of time to infuse the vegetable oil with its flavours before crisping up and burning. The resulting oil will remain liquid and be less rich – but still contains all that incredible chorizo flavour.

Mayonnaise

The basic foundations of mayonnaise – egg yolks, vinegar and salt whisked together with oil until emulsified – provides the ultimate vehicle for added flavourings. Garlic, lemon, black pepper or herbs often find their way into homemade mayonnaises, but a touch of chorizo’s magic oil will instantly transform this condiment into something knockout. By emulsifying the egg yolks with a chorizo oil made using one of the methods above, you’ll be rewarded with a light orange mayo that’ll steal the show in sandwiches.

Jam

It might sound strange, but anyone who has had bacon jam before knows how well salty pork contrasts with the sweetness of sugar. And with chorizo’s added ingredients of garlic and paprika, the resulting jam is an explosion of flavour. There are two ways of making it – finely diced chorizo can be fried until crisp and then candied in brown sugar, or you can do as chef Robert Thompson does, making a smoother mayonnaise-like emulsion but with glucose syrup for added sweetness.

Broth

Chorizo often gets stirred into thick tomato sauces, but it’s equally good at flavouring looser, lighter sauces and stocks too. By simmering finely diced fried chorizo in cider and chicken stock, chef Kuba Winkowski creates an incredible broth which he uses to finish off his beautiful pasta dish. If making homemade chicken stock at home, adding a little chorizo into the mix while it simmers and bubbles away will make it ideal for cooking Spanish dishes, too.

Crust

Cooking chorizo with other ingredients that can absorb and suck up flavours is a no-brainer and makes good use of the rendered oils. Whenever you’re cooking a dish that contains chorizo and onions, for example, always gently cook the chorizo before adding the onions, so there is plenty of rich red oil for the onions to soak up and cook in. This idea can also be extended to the likes of bread – Marcus Wareing blitzes together chorizo, bread and almonds to create a paste, before using it to cover pieces of meaty monkfish. As the monkfish cooks in the pan, the chorizo paste turns from soft to crisp, whilst also protecting the fish from the harsher direct heat. It’s a clever little trick that can be used in all sorts of dishes – try just frying the chorizo and breadcrumb mixture on its own to create a crumble that can be scattered over salads before serving.

Crisps

The way chorizo crisps up when it’s fried, shiny with fat and gently bubbling away, is one of its greatest appeals – it’s rare to not sneak a piece or two directly from the pan before dishing up. Take things to the next level by making chorizo crisps – one of the easiest and most delicious ways to add a crunchy garnish to a recipe. The key is to slice the chorizo as thinly as possible, then sandwich the slices between two paper-lined baking trays to keep them flat as they cook in a hot oven. After 10 minutes, they’ll have crisped up in their own fat, ready to be used to adorn eggs, fish, chicken or vegetables in need of a salty, rich, garlicky kick. They’re also a fantastic bar snack (perfect with a glass of ice-cold sherry) and will happily sit in an airtight container for up to a week – although we’d be surprised if they lasted that long.