Chouriço de Portalegre (Portalegre spiced sausage)
IGP Chouriço de Portalegre is a Portuguese smoked sausage comprising meat and hard fat of Alentejo pigs, in pieces bigger than 1.5 cm, with added salt, non-germinated dry ground garlic, sweet pepper, red pepper paste and sometimes white wine of the Portalegre region. The casings used are dry, natural intestines of cattle or pigs. The sausage is horseshoe-shaped, individually made, secured with cotton string or twisted intestine at the ends, and measures up to 40 cm in length. It is reddish and shiny in appearance, of firm consistency, in a casing without breaks adhering closely to the meat. Diameter from 20 to 45 mm. A diagonal slice shows a perfectly bonded mass of marbled appearance, with a regular mix of meat and fat, reddish and white in colour. The flavour is pleasant, mild or subtle, low in salt, with at times a slightly piquant aftertaste. Pleasant distinctive odour, slightly smoked. Fat: shiny, whitish-pink colour, aromatic and of pleasing taste. The consistency varies with the rations and the percentage of acorns in the feed of Alentejo pigs.
Geographical area : Given the organoleptic characteristics of the product, the soil and climatic conditions required and the local, fair and consistent methods used, the geographical area of manufacture is naturally confined to the municipalities of Alter do Chão, Arronches, Avis, Campo Maior, Castelo de Vide, Crato, Elvas, Fronteira, Gavião, Marvão, Monforte, Nisa, Ponte de Sor, Portalegre and Sousel, in the District of Portalegre.
Proof of origin : Chouriço de Portalegre can only be produced on authorised premises located in the abovementioned geographical area of processing. The raw material comes from swine of the Alentejo breed, reared outdoors under extensive or semi-extensive conditions in an agroforestry system (grazing and acorns) in the oak forests of the Alentejo region. A system of controls exists to monitor the whole production process. As proof of the renown enjoyed by the sausage products produced in the geographical area referred to by the name Portalegre, suffice it to quote the fact that back in 1750 a parish document referred to the products.
Method of production : The fresh meat and hard fat comes from carcases of Alentejo pigs and undergoes a traditional cutting process ("miga"), seasoning, filling and smoking, which gives the sausages the presentation, colour, flavour and aroma characteristic of Chouriço de Portalegre. The manufacturing process takes place in a natural environment, in accordance with local, fair and consistent practice.
Link : The region of Portalegre is characterised by its particular micro-climate, creating special conditions for the production of sausage products (cold, dry winters). Given the readily available supply of Alentejo pork, based on the special features of the diet of these animals, the people of Portalegre have developed special ways of preserving the meat so as to enhance its particular flavour with a simple form of spicing using regional products or by smoking using wood from the region. The Chouriço de Portalegre has its own characteristics of presentation, taste and aroma which link it unmistakably to the region of Portalegre.
Gastronomy : IGP Chouriço de Portalegre should be stored at a temperature of between 5°C and 15°C and may also be preserved in olive oil. It is eaten just as it is or can be the principal ingredient in many traditional local dishes.
Reference: The European Commission