Cured meats (Chacina) is a term that refers to the production and preparation of cured, salted, or smoked meats, especially pork. It is a food preservation technique that has been used for a long time in various cultures and regions around the world.
Cured meats can include different types of meats such as sausages, hams, bacons, chorizos, among others. These meats are processed and treated with salt, spices, and other ingredients to enhance their flavor and extend their shelf life. In some cases, they are also smoked to give them a distinctive smoky flavor.
Today, cured meats is considered a form of artisanal and traditional gastronomy in many places around the world, and charcuterie products can be found in specialty stores and local markets.
Spanish cured meats
In Spain we know very well what a cured meats is, but for those who don’t know, it is a fundamental type of food in the Mediterranean diet.
To define it in a quick and simple way, we could say that a cured meat (Chacina) is a casing filled with minced and seasoned meat. Both the casing and the meat are usually pork and the seasonings used, may vary according to the type of product to be made… but there is much more to it.
What are cured meats?
By raw meat, we mean any piece of processed meat that has been “stuffed” into a casing, whether of animal or artificial origin. These pieces are usually composed of minced pork meat seasoned with various aromatic herbs, which always includes paprika and salt, although other classic spice used in the preparation of raw sausages are usually pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme or ginger among others.
The term stuffing has to do with the action of filling the casing with this meat material, being the natural casing the best valued, since it has a certain flavour; when it is not from natural source, the casings are usually made from collagen, plastic and cellulose.
Cured meats can be eaten raw or cooked but they must always go through a curing process, which makes them an easy food to preserve. The easiest way to recognize whether it is a sausage or it is not , it’s to observe if the product is inside a casing, according to this rule we understand why the Iberian ham or any type of cured ham can not be considered as such.
Types of cured meats according to their composition
There are countless cured meats, each one better than the previous one, but when it comes to classifying them we will try to group them all into three big lines, although we clarify that this is not the only possible classification.
- Fresh: This type of product does not undergo any curing or maturing process. Among them we find the sausages (longanizas, salchichón) and raw sausages.
- Cured: This group includes a wide variety of sausages and in order to be considered cured, they have had to go through a cooking process after its preparation, whether cured, smoked or blanched. These cured sausages can be chorizos, chistorras, lomo, salchichón and longaniza among many others.
- Cold cuts: What is peculiar of cold cuts from other type of sausages is that the meats used to make them cannot be distinguished, as they have been crushed so much that they form a homogeneous paste. Among these are the York ham and the Frankfurter sausages, for example.
According to the type of raw material or the mixture of ingredients, there are other ways of classifying cured meats. In the Enrique Tomás’ stores you will find the most representative Iberian and Gran Reserva cured meats of our culture, so if you feel like tasting them, don’t hesitate to do it right away!