Chorizo is most basically a spicy pork sausage made with garlic and pimenton. Pimenton is a Spanish smoked paprika that is made from dried and smoked red peppers. The pimenton that is added to the pork mixture is what makes chorizo smokey and bright red in color. There are also some varieties between Spanish and Mexican chorizo; Mexican is normally fresh while Spanish is smoked. In the United States today, chorizo can be bought one of two ways. The first is fully cooked and dried (similar to a hard salami). The second is fully cooked and soft (semi cured).
Chorizo is a wonderful ingredient to work with because of its unique, smokey flavor. Try adding chorizo to a frittata or omelet with some fresh herbs and feta cheese. Chorizo is also great with shellfish like fresh mussels and clams. For a great recipe for spicy chorizo and mussels, check out Martha Stewart’s recipe here. And for an authentic recipe to make your own chorizo, check out Epicurious’ recipe here.