Longaniza is, like chorizo, a type of sausage brought from Spain to Mexico and its other colonies sometime in the sixteenth century. Both were originally made from pork meat, and cased in natural tripe, but moving away from the duress of tradition, became local with the addition of dry red peppers (Spanish versions were spiced up with black pepper) and vinegar (instead of wine, as in Spain). In Mexico, some people think the main difference between chorizo and longaniza is simply their length; it is true that chorizo is often tied to form short links (as shown in the picture below, left) and longaniza is always left in one long piece (photo below, right):
However, chorizo may be found in many different lengths, and even packed as single large pieces, practically looking identical to longaniza:
While visiting my sister in Mexico last year, we bought some of the chorizo and longaniza pictured above, and cooked them in parallel in her kitchen to compare. This particular longaniza was packed in plastic casing, cut to order from a long piece, whereas the chorizo was packed in natural tripe casing and was tied into short links(photo below, left, longaniza at the top). We divided some of each into slices about one inch thick, and also crumbled the rest from each sample (photo below, right, longaniza at the top):
It may be appreciated that the longaniza has a brighter shade of red, and that the meat is minced, while the chorizo looks more like ground meat.
We cooked each type of sausage in a separate pan (photos below, longaniza on the left, chorizo, right):
And this is how they looked after cooking (longaniza at the top of the photo below):
The chorizo turned darker and crispier, and the longaniza kept its bright red colour with a meatier texture. In terms of flavour, these particular samples were not too different, maybe the chorizo slightly greasier and a bit spicier.
In general, the differences between chorizo and longaniza in Mexico are as follows:
- Chorizo and longaniza are often used interchangeably when grilled or fried for tacos and scrambled eggs. There are other dishes that call for a specific kind of sausage, such as queso fundido con chorizo (melted cheese with chorizo) or longaniza en salsa verde (longaniza in green sauce).
- In terms of texture, chorizo is made with ground meat, and longaniza with minced (coarser grind) meat.
- Both chorizo and longaniza recipes use dry red peppers in Mexico, but longanizas tend to also include either paprika or annatto (achiote), hence that divine bright red tint. There is also a unique type of green chorizo, made with fresh green hot peppers, and herbs such as cilantro.
The texture, colour and presentation of chorizo and longaniza at my sister’s kitchen corroborate all the general differences, and I ponder that maybe the flavours were close because they were purchased from the same stand, in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. Sailing through recipes from one region to another may produce more distinct results; since I have shared my recipe for chorizo from the Northern state of Coahuila, in my next post I will prepare a batch of longaniza inspired by the seasonings from the other end of Mexico, the Southern state of Yucatan.