Chouriça de Carne de Vinhais ; Linguiça de Vinhais (Vinhais spiced sausage)
IGP Chouriça de Carne de Vinhais aka Linguiça de Vinhais is a sausage of meat and fat of swine of the Bisara breed or of crossbreeds thereof comprising at least 50% Bisara breed, in a casing of small intestine of pig or cow, of cylindrical section and smoked. The meat and fat used are suitably seasoned with salt, red or white wine of the region, water, garlic, paprika and/or chilli powder and bay leaf. The sausage is shaped like a horseshoe, 30 to 35 cm long and reddish-brown in colour. The casing is tied at the two ends with cotton string and adheres closely and without breaks to the filling. The ties are characteristic, comprising two knots at the end of the casing, which is then turned over and knotted again. Diameter: 2 to 3 cm; when cut, the sausage forms a coherent mass and is uneven in colour, varying from bright red to white. Pleasant, highly characteristic flavour. Pleasant smell characteristic of the product. Smoked flavour and smell.
Given the organoleptic characteristics of the product, the soil and climatic conditions required for processing and the longstanding, local traditions which ensure the genuineness of the product, the geographical area of processing is naturally restricted to the municipalities of Alfandega da Fé, Bragança, Carrazeda de Ansiães, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Mirandela, Torre de Moncorvo, Vila Flor and Vinhais in Portugal.
Proof of origin
Chouriça de Carne de Vinhais can only be produced in authorised facilities located in the abovementioned geographical area of processing. The raw material comes from swine of the Bisara breed or of crossbreeds of at least 50% Bisara breed, reared according to the traditional system and fed essentially on potatoes, pumpkin, mast (or acorns), beet, cereal grits and other products of plant origin, in particular by-products of market gardening. During the finishing phase, the pigs consume substantial quantities of chestnuts, produced under the natural conditions applying in the region, which gives their meat highly distinctive organoleptic characteristics which are recognizable to the consumer. A system of controls exists to ensure the traceability of the whole production process.
Method of production
The production of Chouriça de carne de Vinhais involves the following phases: cutting (the loin, tenderloin, neck, belly and belly flanks are cut into cubes approximately 3 cm in size); seasoning (in two phases, with salt, water, wine, bay leaf, garlic and paprika); stuffing (after the meat has been left to stand, the casings of small intestine are stuffed and pierced with needles so the air can escape; the casings are stuffed entirely, the divisions being made subsequently by compression, after which they are tied; once the meat is firmly compacted, the ends are tied with two knots, then the sausage is turned over and the final knot tied; the same piece of cotton string is used to tie both ends, so the sausage takes on a horseshoe-like shape); smoking and curing (smoking takes place through the gradual effect of mild heat from a low fire burning dry oak and/or chestnut; once smoking is completed, the sausages are cured in cool, dark rooms until they take on the flavour and aroma characteristic of Chouriça de Carne de Vinhais. Smoking and curing must last at least 35 days.
At the end of the 18th Century, chestnuts, potatoes and rye bread formed the staple diet in Terra Fria de Trás-os-Montes; pork provided a supplement of protein and fat to this diet. Testifying to the longstanding pig farming tradition of the region is the existence of various sculptures in the form of animals, known as "berrões", "porcos", "verracos" and "toiricos", which are found in various places in upper Trás-os-Montes. In order to consume the meat throughout the year, ways were found to preserve pork and this ancestral craft was passed down from generation to generation.
Fumeiro, as these fine foods are called, owes much to the cold climate of this region, which calls for the constant companionship of the fireplace. The latter provided unique smoking conditions (gradual effect of thin smoke of oak and chestnut wood from the region), plus the constant moisture from the kettle always on the boil. Of greater importance is the care with which the swine are reared, using products from the region, in particular pumpkins, potatoes and chestnuts, the latter being essential for finishing. The natural conditions of the region, its products, the way the swine are fed, the centuries-old knowledge of the craft passed down through the family and the deep-rooted traditions of the people give Chouriça de Carne or Linguiça de Vinhais its unique organoleptic characteristics.
IGP Chouriça de Carne de Vinhais must be stored in the cold to maintain it at its best and prevent it degrading. Traditionally it is cooked in water, cut in half, peeled and eaten while still hot. There are other recipes in which it is roast or used as an ingredient in soups or bean dishes.
Reference: The European Commission