pigNow that the majority of households have freezers, there is obviously not the necessity to salt and cure the whole pig, but the tradition of making ‘chacina’ , sausages, is still very strong and families come together for the annual ’matanza’ as they would for a wedding or communion.We usually kill between 2 and 4 pigs every year which keeps us and our guests well fed on pork, ham and sausages.

With the help of Mariluz we can have the whole thing done in three days. First day kill the pigs, second day mince and season the meat and the third day make the sausages and salt the hams.

Having set aside a couple of shoulders for mincing and a couple of fillets for making caña de lomo most of the better cuts are prepared for freezing i.e. the remaining shoulders and fillets, the tenderloins, ribs and cheeks. Mariluz and I then set about cutting up the rest dividing it into fairly lean to be used for ‘salsichon’ and the fattier stuff to be used for sausages and pate and then the various offally bits go into the ‘chorizo’. There’s always a lot of fat which is difficult to know what to do with. Some we render down over a low heat and then strain and pour off into earthenware jars which next day has solidified into pure white lard. The crunchy bits that are left behind sprinkled with salt make tasty pork scrathchings (chicharrones) which the birds appreciate if no one else. Then
there is the caul fat, like delicate lace which we use to make crepinette.

The ‘tocino’ or belly fat where nicely streaked is either salted or this year I hope to experiment with the new home made smoker and turn it into bacon. Then there’s the head … having taken out the cheeks ‘carrillada’ (highly recommended if you see this on a menu / extremely tender and succulent), and the tongue which goes into the chorizo, I’m ashamed to say I don’t really want to do anything with the rest. I have a friend who likes brains.

I know my neighbours go to great lengths to make the ears and snout edible (which they call the ‘enchufe’ or two pinned plug!) but I give them to the dogs who usually bury them in my flower-beds. Having got the meat cut up it’s time for lunch of hearty soup with crusty bread and the ‘lagarto’ a very tender strip of meat that runs down the backbone grilled over the fire, all washed down with a glass of tinto. Then we’re ready for an afternoon of mincing and the all important seasoning.

The mincing is quickly done as we have the loan of a lovely shiney Italian made semi industrial electric mincer which does the round of the neighbouring farms together with a rather more ancient manual sausage stuffing machine on wooden legs. The seasoning I still get slightly anxious about. It is done ‘a ojo’ by eye, but having spent a year growing it and then gone through all the palaver of killing it, what a disaster to ruin it by adding too much salt! Of course every village has its own recipe for chorizo and salsichon which have been handed down from generation to generation and any variation made in other villages is dismissed as an aberration. However being foreign does mean you are an exception to the rule so I do get away with making my own brand of sausage although I must admit to having trouble persuading anyone to try them and also run the risk if it all goes wrong of the dreaded remark ‘pues claro’ (well of course, told you so) so I do it a bit the traditional way and a bit my way.jamonsmall

The cañas de lomo are sprinkled with salt and marinated whole overnight in a mixture of crushed garlic, cumin and pimenton diluted in water to make a paste. The chorizo meat is seasoned with salt, garlic, cumin and pimenton. The salsichon meat is seasoned with salt, black pepper crushed and whole, nutmeg and moistened with either white wine, manzanilla or anis.


El Moro Sausage Recipe

Mix equal amounts of lean and fat minced meat. To each kilo of minced meat add one level desertspoon salt. 2 level desertspoons cuatro especies (7 parts white pepper to 1 part ground nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cinnamon).
A handful of fresh herbs, thyme or sage or whatever is by the back door. Mix well and leave overnight to absorb the seasoning before sausage making.