A Taste of Portugal

dining_linguicaIs it linguiça or chouriço? This debate apparently persists in Portugal and in America’s Portuguese communities alike. These sausages are essential to Brazilian feijoada black bean stew and Portuguese caldo verde, a potato soup made green with fresh, thinly sliced kale. The sausages are smoked, and very different from the finely ground raw offal version we know locally as chorizo.

According to David Leite, a renowned food writer who grew up in a Portuguese neighborhood in Fall River, Mass., (as did Emeril Lagasse), what you call it depends on where you grew up. There are a wide variety of styles from lean to fatty, and mild to spicy named either way. The only agreement Leite mentions, is that linguiça is more slender.

I believe Joe Barcelos would beg to differ. Barcelos, who emigrated from Portugal when he was 15, began making traditional linguiça in his San Jose backyard; hand-cutting lean pork, mixing it with garlic, vinegar, red chilies, and spices, stuffing it into casings, and smoking it over a wood fire. Friends suggested he sell to neighboring Portuguese communities, and by 2008 demand was so great he opened a factory.

I met Barcelos at Shopper’s Corner where he was cooking slices of mild, medium and spicy linguiça in an electric skillet. His “Sandwich Size” sausages are fat, roughly a quarter of a pound, and filled with chunks of deliciously seasoned meat. I’d choose one of these puppies over a Polish any time.

The pork itself is hormone- and antibiotic-free and without nitrates or MSG. And according to my calculations the percentage of fat in a competitor’s natural sausages is 35 percent higher, with Barcelos’ fat content being equivalent to that of turkey franks.

Barcelos’ Linguiça, (866) 589-2571. Available at Shopper’s Corner and New Leaf Markets. Visit barceloslinguica.com.

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