Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fermín Ibérico Raw Chorizo Sausage Food Review

I grew up (religiously) watching The Brady Bunch; so I'm well aware how important it is to have a great butcher (who didn't love Sam the Butcher?) Nowadays, most folks are content with grabbing whatever's available; but smart people know to visit the right place, and chat with the right people. Where I come from, that means Wagshal's, AKA "The President's Deli." It's been around for 90 years, and (current owners) the Fuchs know just about everything there is to know about meat.

Wagshal's is also home to the first Spanish made, raw Ibérico chorizo available in the United States. Nitrate-free, it's sold in packs of six links for $14.99 (although it's currently on sale, right now.) Its' ingredients are refreshingly simple (Ibérico pork, garlic, olive oil, pimentón (paprika) oregano and salt) and top quality... hence Fermín's moniker, "a cut above." I'm a big fan of Spanish chorizo (more so for slicing, than cooking) and jumped at a chance to try these bad boys on for size.

Keep in mind, it's fresh sausage; but the packaging allows you to refrigerate or freeze it. If you can resist opening it for that long, more power to you. Me? I'm an "eat now, ask questions later" kinda guy. Cooking chorizo (or any sausage, for that matter) can be tricky, especially if you're grilling it. Cook it at too high a temperature, and the casings will come off... leaving you with mashed sausage (not good.) Keep the heat low-medium to medium, and you should be fine.

In terms of flavor, odds are you might be more familiar with Mexican chorizo (sans casings.) It's very spicy (Spanish is much milder) and is often broken into crumbles and used for tacos, or mixed-in with scrambled eggs for breakfast. That doesn't mean Spanish chorizo doesn't pack any kick. Fermín's does... quite a bit, in fact. It's color is brighter too (more red than brown, courtesy of the paprika) and it smells nicer/richer than its Mexican counterpart.

I cooked mine (three links at a time) in a tablespoon of olive oil (Trader Joe's Spanish EVOO) for about 10 minutes, before adding a cup of merlot, and cooking an additional five minutes or so. The casings started to pop a little on the sides (too much heat) but remember, you can eat the casings too. Slice into small pieces (about 8-10 per link) with a sharp knife, and eat devour as is.

What's the verdict? Goodness, they're delicious. Serve with some nice couscous and your favorite vegetable or salad. Remember, it has quite a bit more fat than hard chorizo; but fat = great taste, and this sausage is no exception. Great garlic aroma too. I put the second lot inside a crusty French baguette, and made a delicious sandwich with some hot cherry peppers (I'm a sucker for heat) and tomatoes. Like most meats, Spanish chorizo is high in saturated fat (2 grams per link) and sodium (465 mg per) but each link packs nine grams of protein and contains less than 100 calories. In other words, don't go crazy (but enjoy!)

Just in case you're not much of a cook (or you're in a perpetual rush) Wagshal's also sells the dry-cured, pre-sliced variety in 2 oz. packages for a mere $6.99 per. I haven't tried them yet; but since I eat them like candy, I'd better wait until after my physical in a few weeks. Also on the menu... Fermin Iberico Sliced Bacon ($8.99 for ½ lb.) just in case you want to make the best breakfast sandwich ever. Perhaps it's time to write another review <grin.>