Portugal offers an amazing variety of sausages - from north to south. In the Alentejo cured meats and sausages are a hallmark of local cuisine. They are served boiled, fried, roasted, alone, as accompaniments, and as the key ingredient in local cuisine. The pata negra pig of the southeastern Alentejo is featured in many of the region’s cured meats. And the Alentejo is home to so many different kinds of sausages: painho, chouriço, morcela, cacholeira banca, lombo enguitado, farinheira, etc. The "Rota dos Sabores do Alentejo "Alentejo Flavor Routes” lets you taste cured meat products at the point of production: Information at www.rotadossabores.com
The northeast corner of the country is famous for its smoked presunto hams, and for delectable handmade sausages. Inland areas supply succulent and tender meats, locally grazed. In the Trás-os-Montes, there are an abundance of smoked meats and sausages in region between Chaves and Lamego, including spicy garlic sausage ("alheiras") in Mirandela, and pickled pork sausage ("salpicões") in Vinhais.
Presunto (Cured Ham)
You have heard of prosciutto and jamon, well meet presunto! Ok, so we are talking about the leg of pigs - but traditional ingredients, call it terroir, meaning that the cured ham is very different from region to region. Ancient breeds, centuries of tradition and really good salt makes presunto something quite special. The presunto must have a minimum weight of 5 Kg, have an agreeable taste, be very smooth, delicate and slightly salty, and sometimes a touch piquant to make the grade. In fact, Portugal has several DOC presunto regions. Fancy!
Now we can’t share every sausage – as we have alheira, linguiça, morcela, farinheira, chouriço de Vinho, chouriço de ossos, chourição, cacholeira, paia, paio, paiola, paiote, and of course, tripa enfarinhada. But here are just a few more to enjoy!
Chouriço (no Z’s here)
Portuguese chouriço is made from ingredient including pork, fat, wine, colorau, garlic, and salt. It is then stuffed into natural casings and slowly dried over smoke or in dry air. And each region offers a chouriço based on local traditional and flavors. As for eating it, look for chouriço in great dishes from feijoada in the Northeast, to in the bottom of a bowl of Caldo Verde soup, or in Cozido. Or just flame-cook it over aguardente and enjoy! Now, to bring it up a notch, try blood chouriço (chouriço de sangue) – basically chouriço seasoned with pig’s blood.
Linguiça (Go Pats!)
Linguiça is a New England favorite, and it got there via the Azores – where it is a big deal. Thinner and a bit spicier than chouriço, linguiça grills well, and is great for a tailgate (look for it at Gillette Stadium). Linguiça is a partner in Porto’s Francesinha sandwich, adding to the taste riot.
Farinheira is another smoked sausage made mainly from wheat flour, beef and spices. Why no pork? Legend has it the Farinheira was invented by the Jews during the 15th century to fool the Inquisition to believe that they had converted to Christianity by showing they were eating pork, because it looks like a pork sausage.
And the rest…
The alheira is made with made veal, duck, chicken, quail or even rabbit -plus bread. Now the name alheira comes from alho (garlic) this is not a garlicky treat.
Paio is made of pork loin, seasoned with garlic, salt, and Capsicum pepper and smoked. It is a hard sausage, usually quite wide, and can be sliced and eaten on bread.