Tag Archives: chistorra

Take a Break from Jamón: My 5 Spanish Pork-based Dishes Worth Indulging In

2018_072723_2137_542If you think Spain is all about jamón, think again. The Spanish pork-based cuisine is rich and diverse, certainly a lot more other than the well-loved cured pork. Countless delectable cerdo dishes, served as tapas and raciones, are waiting for you to relish.

Forget jamon for awhile. Here are five typical mouth-watering pork dishes that you must try:

1. Cochinillo

image19Having a cochinillo means ordering a whole pig, a piglet to be exact, one that’s roasted in a special oven for several hours. Perhaps all parts of Spain offer this dish, albeit the town of Segovia is said to serve the perfect Cochinillo asado.

What’s cooked are piglets a few weeks old, and normally, the dish is enough to feed six to eight people. You get to savor slices upon slices of tender, succulent meat, but only after first indulging in the dish’s crunchy, caramel-brown, fat-layered skin.  I purposely went to Segovia to experience their much-touted cochinillo. Simply delicious. However, I had to settle for a portion since I was in my lonesome.

2. Callos a la Madrileña

2018_072508_0013_621The sticky bit-salty sauce is what made me fall in love with this dish, apart from the tenderness of the callos meat itself. One of the more popular, traditional Spanish comidas, callos is served in numerous bars and restaurants, big and small, in Madrid and all around Spain. I brought some at home once, but instead of eating it with bread, I had it top a plate of hot, steaming rice.

If you’re in the vicinity of Calle de Alcala, try dropping by at Bar Manduka, a highly patronized restaurant bar, where a warm welcome greets clients and waiters are quick to serve. Their callos might be a bit spicy, and excessive in flavors even, but that is exactly why I love it.

3. Orejas a la Plancha

image5One typical Spanish dish that you must try is the orejas a la plancha. It’s pig’s ear, cartilage and all, grilled in olive oil, salt and spices. While looking forward to having a taste of this unusual pork fare, I was constantly reminded to eat at specialty restaurants lest I end up chewing forever on tough cartilage and cringe on the sight of hairs still present in the skin.

Finally, I opted for Cafe Aurelio, the first restaurant I checked around Calle Bravo Murillo that serves orejas.  Salted and grilled in oil, what made it especially flavorful was the orange-reddish sauce on top. Suffice it to say that their version was a delight, and made me a huge fan of the dish, and the cafe as well. I must say Orejas is one tapa worth choosing over all others, and you’d gladly share with friends over ice-cold refresco or chilled cerveza.

4. Chistorra

image7Salty, spicy and with a hint of sour is how I describe another favorite cerdo dish, a Spanish sausage from Aragon, never mind if it is on the greasy side. If you’re limiting your fat consumption, however, go for the type with a mix of beef.

I like that the chistorra at Museo del Jamon, our designated restaurant for friends visiting Madrid, comes with a reddish sauce that I love dipping my bread in. It is another dish that I’d rather eat with rice, along with a vinegar-garlic-pepper concoction to dip it in. Sounds weird,  but hey, it works for me.

5. Torrezno

2018_072723_2111_682 I had my first Torrezno on our way to Barcelona, when we made a quick stop in a food cafeteria in Zaragoza. I heard about so much about the dish, and had been wanting to try it, when lo and behold, there they were, a heaping plate of half-inch thick strips of fried pork displayed in the bar counter. We bought three, one for each of us, together with a small basket of pan slices. Cold but still crunchy, the taste almost blew us away.

Torrezno is served as a tapa and common in the Spanish city of Soria. A crunchy dish of marinated pork belly, it is fried in olive oil and chopped bite-size when served. Like chistorra, torrezno has a high fat content, but many in Spain consider it as a snack, and the perfect tapa to complement some rounds of drink. The one in the photo above is from Bar Los Torreznos near Goya Metro Station, quite different from the typical chopped strips I was expecting. But still, it was a great treat, especially when I ordered some pimientos del Padron to go with it.

Museo del Jamón: Indulge in Some Fine Ham, Bocadillos and Much More

Perhaps  you just flew into Madrid for the first time, and so you’re an absolute newbie in the city. More often than not, you are at a lost on which Madrid restaurant to go to have your first Spanish “comida.” In which case, I would recommend Museo del jamón. I suggest you try out one of the most frequented branches along Calle Mayor, at Puerta del Sol. (There are two Museos in the area, the other one is in Carretera de Jeronimo.) Here is where I had my first dinner in Madrid, and a taste of the savory Jamón Iberico, that much-talked-about premier ham product made from an olive-fed, black Iberian pig.

Popular for the numerous ham ( Are they even edible?) that hover above the sides of the restaurant as they hang from its ceiling, the Museo is a hands-down choice of many first-time diners in Madrid. And rightly so, since the restaurant offers not just high grade jamón, but a wide variety of fresh and full-flavored meat and sea food dishes as well.

It’s clear that the restaurant is a hot spot when it comes to anything that’s cured ham. It manages to be steps ahead of its competitors, which is why it is touted as a major player of the jamon industry of Madrid. Needless to say, when one experiences his first taste of the Spanish ham, it’s likely that it is thru Museo del jamón.

At Museo in Calle Alcala, you may opt to enjoy a sit-down dinner at its comidor on the second floor, where order is served within minutes (at least in my case); or have a quick sandwich and beer (or refresco) fix at the bar. If you choose the latter, you might be required (especially during meal hours) to display some jostling moves to be able to give your order and land a bit of dining space at the bar.

Popular dishes at Museo del Jamón (ones that I’ve tasted so far):

imageThe mixed carne dish is simply meat overload.  Allow your palate to revel in the richness and mouth-watering taste of  pork and beef fillet, bacon, and sausages – cooked either grilled or friedimage Probably one of the best frituras de pescados in town. Sea foods tend to be greasy when fried, and this one at Museo is no exception. But regardless, our plate ended up clean. The taste was just spot on that we thought it’s such a waste if any was left uneaten imageChistorra resembles the chorizo, only it is smaller, more like bite-size that you can just pop into your mouth to relish. I love that it is a bit sour and spicy, and served in heaping quantity. It jives well with any bread, albeit the baguette is a fine match. Chistorra comes drenched in a thick, reddish liquid which I mistaken as oil, but was told it was apple cider

1-euro Bocadillos, copa y bebida con aperitivo at Museo del Jamón

Now for those who love bocadillos but can only spend so much, there’s no other place to enjoy them but at Museo del Jamón. The restaurant offers six varieties of these sandwiches – jamon, queso, lacon, chorizo, salami, and salchichon – for an incredibly low price of 1 euro per piece. Tasty meat choices as liberal fillings to fresh, crunchy bread – who could resist such an offer? Many other items are available for 1 euro at the bar, like a bottle of Pepsi or 7-up or a copa of cervesa (which costs less, at 90 cents). What’s more – an order of any of these drinks comes with aperitivo, the Spanish term for aparitivo or light snack. Order a refresco or cervesa at the bar and it is served along with an aperitivo in the form of small sandwiches, empanadita, chips, or a few slices of jamon.

image The plain bocadillo de queso is the quintessential sandwich for days I want to go meat-less – that sadly becomes not so if my order of refresco comes with this aperitivo
imageBocadillo de salami is perfect for those who love spicy and salty meat. If only for the rich taste, it makes me wonder why the sandwich only costs a euro. Again, my refresco was served without any appetizer
imageSalami bocadillo and la copa de cerveza is an affordable food combo that seems meant to satiate a hungry soul. My beer comes with a mini jamon sandwich
imageBocadillo de Chorizo is another favorite. In fact, I took a few bite before I realized that I have yet to take a photo for my blog. Chips, this time, was served as an aperitivo

imageBocadillo de Lacon, made from the hindlimbs of pigs, is like spiced ham and saltier compared to the traditional cured ham. Its largely meaty and tasteful qualities make it my top favorite among all six sandwiches

imageBocadillo de Salchichon. The Museo at Carretera de Jeronimo has available dining counters set against the glass windows on its sides, affording full view of the busy streets outside

image Notice the slot machine near the bar, a common fixture found inside many food establishments in the city

image Display counter of various cured ham products for take-away
image Museo del Jamon along Calle Mayor