Spain is known for producing some of the best cured meat products in the world. But whereas jamón and chorizo have slowly but surely become the talk of the world, others, like Lomo Curado, Sobrasada, and Salchichon, have been a little slower to install themselves as staple products in the minds of consumers outside their native Spain.
Maybe it’s the market saturation: so many great cured meat products have hit the American market in the last few years that keeping up with the lesser-known options has become hard. Or maybe it’s passing similarities with other cured meats. Perhaps you think that if you’re already keeping salami, chorizo, or pepperoni in the pantry, there’s nothing new that something like salchichon can offer.
Luckily, the attitude around cured meat products seems to be changing, at least among the budding epicures. New products are considered exciting and unique from the get-go, something to try and compare to the old. After all, it took quite some time to convince most people that jamón was not the equivalent of prosciutto but a completely independent product with a distinct and unique texture and flavor profile.
The same goes for Salchichon. It may seem like something familiar, but it deserves to be given a chance to prove itself as an independent product. We decided to pick the twelve most often asked questions from the internet to answer and maybe convince the interested parties to give this delightful Spanish sausage a chance!
What is Salchichon?
Salchichon is one of the, if not the, most famous Spanish pork sausages. It’s traditionally made from specifically selected cuts of meat, a careful balance between more fatty cuts and lean meat to achieve its signature texture: chewy but smooth and slightly creamy.
While traditional Salchichon is a pork product, in recent years, other varieties have started popping up more and more often. It’s not uncommon to encounter turkey, beef, or ox sausage labeled Salchichon these days, with the main similarities laying in the way the sausage is made. That said, certain traditional types of Salchichon do not allow for such substitutes. Don’t expect to find authentic Salchichon de Vic or Salchichon de Aragon made with turkey.
Otherwise, as long as the fatty and lean meat ratio is correctly determined, the classic Salchichon texture shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. The meat is coarsely chopped without separating the layers of meat to keep the mixture properly moist.
The meat is then generously salted and spiced, usually with some kind of pepper (most often black pepper), along with various other spices like rosemary, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, and coriander. Each producer's spice blend is unique, so Salchichon may greatly vary from artisan to artisan.
Once properly flavored, the meat is left to marinate for about a day, stuffed into a casing (usually pig or cow intestines), and left to dry for around 40-45 days.
What does Salchichon taste like?
Traditionally Salchichon is generously flavored with various spices, so its flavor tends to be very robust and complex. It’s not necessarily spicy, though the ample amount of pepper used does add a bit of a bite.
The flavor profile tends to depend heavily on the spice blend used by the producer in question. Those who prefer their sausage on the spicier side tend to up the amount of pepper and add garlic and rosemary to the blend. On the other hand, those who prefer their sausage more delicate and complex use nutmeg and clove to balance out the peppery flavor.
Certain producers don’t shy away from mixing all the classic Salchichon spices into the meat mixture, banking on a robust, very complex, but well-balanced flavor profile with both spicy and sweet undertones.
Generally, Salchichon is supposed to be slightly spicy and savory, but not overly salty, and with a bit of underlying sweetness. Other flavor notes will depend on the spices used.
Determining the anticipated flavor is easier with commercially packaged Salchichon, as the packaging will list the spices used. With artisanal Salchichon, either ask for a taste on the spot or take a risk. It takes a lot to ruin this one, so if you’re a fan of dry-cured meats and spices, you’ll likely still love what you get.
Which is the best Salchichon variety?
The title of Best Salchichon is, frankly, subjective, as the absence of rigid rules with the spice blend means each person will determine what type of Salchichon they like based on their personal preferences.
Traditional Salchichon varieties like Salchichon de Aragon spiced with black and white pepper, nutmeg, and marjoram, Salchichon Cular spiced with signature Basque spice blend, and Salchichon Iberico spiced only slightly and mainly depending on Iberian pork for its delicate flavor are all considered sumptuous delicacies in their own right.
However, there is a type of Salchichon that’s considered a head above the rest, somewhat of a seminal product for its kind. It’s Salchichón de Vic, also called Llonganissa de Vic, a Catalan-style Salchichon traditional to Spain’s Osona district’s Vic Valley.
The EU has granted Salchichon de Vic PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status, so it can only be produced in specifically designated areas: one of the 28 towns located in the Vic Valley. The meat used in production must come only from pigs raised in the area according to specific guidelines. The breed must be a type of Spanish White Pig, either Berkshire, Large White, or Duroc. The Regulatory Council must label authentic Salchichon de Vic.
Is Salchichon the same as salami?
Yes, but no. It’s a bit complicated. Salami is an umbrella term encompassing a wide variety of cured, air-dried, and fermented sausages. We may say that Salchichon is a type of salami simply by virtue of being a dry-cured sausage.
However, most people tend to avoid calling Salchichon salami due to the place of origin. While products from Southern, Eastern, and Central Europe can all be called salami, the term is still mostly reserved for Italian products. Salchichon is Spanish, so not everyone likes to lump it into the salami category.
But still, calling it salami isn’t wrong.
What is the difference between chorizo and Salchichon?
While both are Spanish sausages made with coarsely chopped cuts of lean and fatty pork, the two differ in almost every other aspect. Even the “coarsely chopped pork” aspect of it isn’t always actual since Salchichon can sometimes be made with other meats, and chorizo is more coarsely chopped.
The differences between the two include, but aren’t limited to:
- Visuals, with chorizo being stark red and Salchichon being dark, almost purplish, pink;
- Flavor, with chorizo being much spicier and using Pimenton paprika, and Salchichon being more mellow;
- The dry-curing process tends to last longer for chorizo, sometimes up to 10 weeks.
You can learn more in-depth about the similarities and differences between the two in our short guide to Salchichon, Chorizo, and Lomo Curado.
Can you eat Salchichon raw?
Yes, Salchichon is entirely safe for consumption straight out of the package. The curing process is devised to protect the meat from bacterial growth and renders it completely safe as long as it’s done correctly according to the rules.
In fact, while technically there’s no cooking involved in the process and the meat used in Salchichon making is raw, the final product is considered to be closer to cooked after going through the entire curing process than raw.
What is Salchichon used for?
Salchichon is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen, fit for both raw consumption and cooking.
It’s often served as a cold appetizer, thinly sliced and paired with other cured meats, cheese, fruit, and nuts, like many different types of cured meats, including salami, chorizo, and prosciutto.
It’s also considered a go-to addition to cold or grilled sandwiches. Its smooth and moderately chewy texture goes well with cheese and vegetables, and since its robust flavor isn’t easily overwhelmed, it can be paired with almost any ingredient.
The robust flavor also serves it well when utilized as an ingredient in more complex dishes. You can use Salchichon as a pizza topping to one-up the classic pizza Salame or add it to salads assembled from neutral-tasting vegetables like greens, zucchini, potatoes, etc. It’ll also serve as an excellent flavoring ingredient for dishes made with legumes or eggs, adding a bit of spice and meatiness to it, giving the dish a more complex, deeper flavor.
What do you eat Salchichon with?
While Salchichon is possibly the most versatile Spanish sausage, there are specific flavor pairings that work better with it than others.
For example, it’ll work best with more mellow, milky cheese like mozzarella, burrata, white Scamorza, young Manchego, Gouda, or Colby.
It’s excellent with mellow leafy greens like lettuce, kale, spinach, and microgreens (though a moderate amount of basil can also work well, accentuating its complex flavor).
It also goes well with moderately sweet fruit like apricots, peaches, pears, and citrus-like oranges and tangerines.
As for drinks, Salchichon is typically paired with young, light, and fruity wines, both red and white.
How long does Salchichon last?
Commercially packaged Salchichon has a long shelf life: as long as it’s vacuum-sealed, it should be good for around 12 months after the packaging date. The label usually has a “best by” or “expiration date” to go off of. If the packaging is damaged, please contact the manufacturer to learn how it may have affected the shelf stability of your product, if at all.
Once opened, it’ll last for around eight weeks if stored in an appropriately cool and dry environment, either cellar or refrigerator.
Can you leave Salchichon out overnight?
Salchichon is a perishable product. FDA guidelines dictate that perishable meat-based products shouldn’t be left out for more than 2-3 hours, depending on the temperature. In the lower temperature, the product may remain safe for longer, while heat and humidity will create favorable conditions for bacteria, so the product may start to spoil sooner.
In any case, a whole night is too long to leave Salchichon out.
How do you store Salchichon?
Whether still in a vacuum-sealed package or open, you should store Salchichon in the refrigerator. Once opened, wrap it up either in plastic wrap or parchment paper to preserve its texture and flavor qualities better.
Can you freeze Salchichon?
Freezing may keep Salchichon safe for consumption for a more extended period, but it’ll likely significantly damage its texture and flavor qualities.
The freezing and thawing process will damage the fibers in the meat, making the sausage drier and more rubber-like in texture, as well as diminishing the taste and even aroma.
Better keep this one out of the freezer.
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