Saturday, March 27, 2010

Charcutaria Micaelense

Blood sausage and hot chorizo from Charcutaria MicaelenseThis Friday I went to a Portuguese shop on 118th Avenue called Charcutaria Micaelense. It's a pretty unassuming building. If you turn left after entering you'll find yourself in a small restaurant. Turn right and there is a store with a few shelves of imported goods, one upright freezer with salt cod, two chest freezers with whole fish and octopus, and a display case with cheese and blood sausage.

Blood sausage is exactly what it sounds like: pork fat and blood, which coagulates and turns black when cooked. Usually there are some added vegetables or grains to give the mixture body. The most common addition is cooked onions, but sometimes rice is used. Blood sausage, or black pudding, is made throughout Europe (especially in France, where it is called boudin noir), but it is obviously not popular in North America. In fact, this was the first time I had ever seen it.

I admitted to the proprietor that I was completely ignorant of Portuguese cuisine and asked what I needed to try first. He stepped into a cooler behind the counter and came out with two links of red sausage. They were chorizo. One was tied with a red string (indicating its aggressive heat), the other with white. I asked him, Which do you prefer? He smiled and tapped the red-stringed sausage.

At home I seared a few rounds of each sausage and ate them with bread fried in the same pan.

As it cooked, the blood sausage smelled of sweet spices (cloves?), and the burgundy stuffing turned coal black. The consistency reminded me of liver. The flavour of onions was dominant, but mellow. There was a bit of heat to finish. Delicious.

The chorizo was a surprise. Instead of the finely ground meat and fat that we expect in most sausages, this had chunks of pork, unground, stuffed into the casing. As the chorizo seared it released spicy, red fat that would be fantastic to cook with. Because it is unground, it had a lot more bite and chew. It was much less spicy than the red string suggested.

Whenever I go by a place like Charcutaria Micaelense, I assume it's just imports. I had no idea that artisan products like this were produced in such unassuming shops. Now that I think of it, I go by three Polish delis on my ride home from school. Maybe I should pop in...

[Update, September 17, 2010: I stopped by the charcutaria this afternoon and was heartbroken to find that they no longer make blood sausage. Instead they are selling a very mediocre commercial pork sausage that has some blood in it. Thankfully the house chorizo is still around.]

1 comment:

  1. I recommend the coffee shop/restaurant when you get the chance! Delicious food and amazing coffee!