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Portuguese Recipe: Homemade Chouriço

Cooking 6 days Preparation 3 days 6 medium
Recipe type: Sausage Cuisine: Portuguese

Since Portuguese “chouriço” is often confused with its Spanish cousin “chorizo,” let’s iron out the differences. The biggest defining factor is in the amount of paprika used. Spanish chorizo has a much greater percentage of paprika than the Portuguese chouriço. On the other hand, the Portuguese chouriço is smokier than Spanish chorizo and can be eaten cold (charcuterie-style), fried, grilled and boiled, which makes it a popular ingredient in Portugal’s hearty soups. The most famous: Kale soup or “Caldo Verde.”

This recipe was made by Sonia Andresson-Nolasco



  • 50 lbs. of pork butt/shoulder (makes about 90 chouriços)
  • 3 liters of white wine (Lopes uses red, but my mother sticks to white. Your choice.)
  • 2 liters of water
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 6 bay leaves (make sure they go in whole, since they’ll need to be removed before stuffing the meat into the casings)
  • 1 or 2 ounces of red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you want)
  • 400 g. of paprika
  • 250 g. of “Massa de Pimentao” (You can buy this red pepper paste at most Portuguese supermarkets, Seabra’s offers it)
  • 15 heads of garlic (minced)
  • 400 g. of coarse salt
  • Cow intestine (or artificial casings): Ask the butcher for the right amount based on the pounds of meat you’re using.  My mother bought her meat and intestine at Lopes.




  • Large, deep basins (for marinating and then to hold the finished sausages)
  • A roll or two of twine
  • Sausage stuffing funnels
  • Needles and colorful thread

Seasoning & Marinating the Meat

  1. Cut the meat into small cubes and drop into the basin(s).
  2. In another large basin/bucket add the white wine, the water, olive oil, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, paprika, “Massa de Pimentao,” minced garlic and salt.
  3. Mix all the ingredients by stirring, preferably with your hands until the salt has dissolved.
  4. Let it sit for 3 days; stir twice a day (morning and night) for the 3 days. It’s important that the meat remain somewhat wet, so if necessary add a bit more wine or water. The sauce should remain reddish.
  5. On the third day, take out a few pieces of meat and fry them up in olive oil to check the salt. It should be savory but not too salty.
  6. If it’s too salty, add some more water and if necessary add more of the other ingredients to maintain balanced flavors. REMINDER: Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves.

The Sausage Casings

You can opt to use artificial casings, but we used natural casings a.k.a. cow intestine.

  1. Wash the intestine on the same day you cut the meat.
  2. Wash it several times with coarse salt, white vinegar and lemon.
  3. Then store in the refrigerator with some salt and lemon juice. On the second day, try to turn the intestine inside out and repeat washing.
  4. On the third day, turn it again and wash once more. Now it’s ready to be used.
  5. Cut it up into about 20-inch casings. 

The Stuffing Process

We went totally old-school and used a regular-sized dinner plate to measure the twine.

  1. Wrapped the twine around the plate over and over.
  2. Then cut and created equal length twine strings that were used to fasten the ends of each sausage casing. 
  3. Take one of the strings and fasten TIGHTLY to the end of one of the casings.
  4. Insert the other end of the casing with the sausage stuffing funnel, hold it well with one hand while with the other you grab the meat and shove into the funnel opening, until the casing is full. Using a sewing needle, prick the casing to remove any air. WARNING: Make sure you add a large colorful thread to your needle. You want make sure the needle never gets lost in your meat. That’s very dangerous!
  5. Leave a little space between the stuffed meat and the end of the unfastened side of the casing, so you have room to tie the twine around it.
  6. Then tie the two strings together; that’s how they’re going to hang during the smoking process.
  7. Once you’re done stuffing, run all the sausages through cold water and then let them rest in clean basins before smoking.

Smoking & Storing

The biggest challenge is smoking the sausages. My parents smoked theirs at a friend’s house in rural New Jersey. This person has lots of room to do these kinds of projects. My grandparents used to smoke theirs in their stone barn. You have to build a medium fire using sticks and branches that create lots of smoke underneath the area where you’ll be hanging the sausages. You leave the embers burning low underneath them for 4 days. Leave the sausages hanging in the same place for another 3 days, no fire needed at this point. Afterwards, store them in a dry place and in vegetable oil. Or, freeze them. If you have too many, freezing them is probably the best option. If you’re going to consume them right away or decide to make a small batch, you can leave them hanging right where they are. However, you need to rub them with vegetable oil two times a week to avoid any mold from building up on the sausages.

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