Everyone in Spain, and more and more people outside the peninsula, know the two most famous Asturian sausages now. The smoked chorizo and morcilla are famous, and protected by DOPs. But there is a whole world of other local Asturian sausages – some easy to find, some very local and obscure.
This is my attempt to catalog all of the local sausages in Asturias in one place. Use this as your guide to what to eat on your next visit. Many of these sausages are very regionally specific. Some are found only in very small areas. Some of the others however, are widely available anywhere in Asturias. A few are available (and famous) throughout Spain. Those you will find it easy to procure the States, or import.
First a couple of words about the potentially confusing definitions of various sausage-like things in Asturian and Spanish common use. The most general term for sausages is embutíu or embutido, respectively. This is the broadest category and is defined as "(usually chopped) meat and other things stuffed into a casing." Salchicha is almost the same term except it means "meat and other things stuffed into a casing." Note the subtle difference. While chosco is an embutido, it is not a salchicha. That makes salchicha pretty much exactly to what an English speaker thinks of as "sausage". A fiambre however is a cold cut or luncheon meat. All precooked or cured meats that are sliced and served cold or hot are fiambres.
Like in the rest of Spain, the most popular sausage is always some variation on chorizo. Asturias has an abundance of chorizos. Surprised? Supposedly Spain has only one chorizo. The real authentic chorizo. Right? That’s what the internet says. Well, the internet is wrong. Multiple chorizos exist in Spain. Heck, there are multiple chorizos just in Asturias. Here are the most widespread, and most popular:
Ahumado de Asturias
Chorizo Asturiano sausage is made with pork loin and bacon, salt, sweet and spicy paprika, oregano and garlic. Cured first for between 15 and 90 days, then smoked over oak. I have already said a lot of good things about this sausage.
Asturians have a very deep love affair with all things Argentinian, especially on the barbecue grill. This Argentinian cook-out staple found a second home in Asturias. From there it has conquered most of Spain, one grill at a time. You can find it in pretty much any butcher shop or grocery store in the province. The Asturian version is usually about 30% pork and 70% beef.
Most Spaniards do not consider picadillo a sausage. But the fact is that this is just uncased chorizo. So to Americans, Mexicans, most people outside of Spain really, this is a type of chorizo. Readily available all over the region, it is used in a large number of dishes. Picadillo is the fuel Asturias runs on. This is what Americans think of when someone says “Mexican chorizo“.
Morcilla is composed of pig’s blood, onion, bacon, paprika, garlic and salt. Stuffed into natural casings and smoked with oak, this is rarely found by itself. There are morcillas blancas that do not use blood, particularly in the southwestern part of the country.
Longaniza de Avilés
Longaniza de Avilés is a registered trademark of Vallina Sausages. They have made it since the seventies when a German butcher joined the firm. He combined traditional German sausage making with traditional Asturian techniques: giving rise to this sausage that is now a part of the gastronomy of the city.
Some chronicles of Noreña say that in 1799, Doña Cipriana Rodríguez Sotura invented moscancia as an accompaniment to the typical chickpea stew. It differs from morcilla. Beef or lamb tallow is used in addition to blood, bacon, onion, paprika, garlic and salt. Stuffed into natural casings and blanched, it is eaten mostly in cocidos and other stews.
Lean pork, bacon, blood, onion, paprika, salt, garlic and spices are the ingredients of sabadiego, another Noreña specialty. Usually simply pan fried it is also very popular for parrillada – grilling out. Primarily known in the central valley of Asturias, it is becoming more widely known thanks to the “Caballeros de la Orden del Sabadiego“, which promotes Noreña cuisine and sausage making.
I often joke that Asturians will make a sausage out of anything. If you needed any proof of that, you could look at chosco de Tineo. It’s a little difficult to call something that is 80% whole pork loin a sausage, but here in Asturias, no one seems to mind. Once you taste it, you won’t mind either.
Imagine a chosco, but made with short ribs instead of whole loin. That is butiello, and its Leonese neighbor botillo. 80 or 90% short rib, mixed with 10-20% pig tail. It does not share the IGP designation that its neighbor to the south has. Instead, it is protected only by its relative obscurity. However, it is well worth hunting down.
Another unique sausage here. Actually two unique sausages, that share a name. The first variety of el xuan is a variety of blood sausage. Begin with the same ingredients as the morcilla asturiana, above. To this, add cooked pumpkin and green chilis.
The other version of el xuan is essentially a smoked pork chop in sausage form. Take super fatty pork chops. Grind them up. Then marinate them in a mixture of paprika, garlic, and salt. Ferment, then smoke, like many Asturian sausages.
Andoya is a similar sausage to chosco, being also made with whole loin. However, it is a different sausage because of the curing process. First marinated in salt, paprika, white pepper, and oregano. It is then held in this marinade for five days. After that, it is cased and fermented. Its shape is sort of a flat chosco. It is typical of the Asturian southwest.
The emberzao is a very unique sausage. It is cased with cabbage and not intestine or synthetic casing. This makes it rather more of a cabbage roll than a sausage to me, but Asturians say it is a sausage, so I guess it is! It is part of a family of sausages that also includes pantrucu, bolla, boroncho, and fariñón. All of them are variations in blood sausages. Some are more like morcilla, some less so. Each is defined by the starch component that is added. Some have corn flour, some have wheat flour. Others have rice or corn meal.
- Álvarez Riestra, A. (1799). Noreña en el recuerdo. Ecce-Homo.