I owe my obsession with Choripan (aka “Chori”) to my father. I wasn’t force-fed sausage or anything (that I know of) but I seem to recall some form of meat always being on the table…most of the time it was sausage. I also learned to enjoy cow tongue, pigs feet, chicken hearts, gizzards, and other less popular parts of an animal, but that’s another story. Long story short, he’s from Argentina and in Argentina they eat the whole animal. Needless to say then, you just can’t have a conversation about sausage and not mention the Argentines or Chori. It’s not that they invented the stuff or that they make the best in the world, it’s more an issue around pure volume of consumption. They eat A LOT of it!
Like a taco is to Mexicans or a gyro is to Greeks, the Choripan is the most recognized street food in Argentina. It’s one of those ubiquitous cultural icons that unifies a country by combining all the things that they love into one little package that nourishes and comforts its people no matter what their socioeconomic status might be.
It’s a real simple equation: fresh bread + chimichurri + a meaty sausage = a national obsession.
So let’s break this down. The term “Choripán” is actually a combination of two Spanish words. If you paid any attention to your Spanish teacher in high school you probably already figured it out. For those of you who only managed to memorize how to say your name in Spanish, here’s some help – it’s a combination of the words “Chorizo” and “Pan”. Translated…sausage and bread.
The simplicity of this nomenclature is actually quite brilliant. Can you think of any other food whose name is a combination of the ingredients? Chew on that for a moment and let me know in the comments section…
So lets talk about making one. First you want to get yourself a fairly meaty sausage. Something with some girth. It really doesn’t matter what it is but I recommend keeping it something with a fairly neutral flavor…ie no jalepeno-cheddar brats. The Argentines usually use a pork and beef blend but that can vary. Next, grill it up. You can either split it down the middle just before serving or keep it whole.
Another vital part is to find a nice roll. Now I’m not talking about a hot dog bun or a hoagie roll…save that for the italian sausage & peppers. The Choripán has some juice to it so you’re going to need something that can take some fluids and stay together until the last bite. I recommend a good, fresh baguette. If you skip this step, in my opinion, you’ve ruined the experience.
Now comes the hard part for most people. Making the chimichurri. Rather than launching into a whole segment about “chimi”, I’ll just be brief and say that it’s the most popular condiment in Argentina. Since I discovered it about 10 years ago, I haven’t been able to enjoy a steak without it. I put it on chicken, shrimp, and fish too. It’s addictive.
It’s actually not that hard to make. I can do it in about 3 minutes flat now. The main thing to keep in mind is that there is no right way to make it. I happen to like mine a little acidic, so I add extra vinegar. So experiment, but keep in mind that you want the flavor of the garlic, the chili and the parsley to come through on the sandwich so don’t be afraid to come out of the gates swinging with some flavor. Here’s the recipe that I loosely use. It makes enough for a couple sausages or a couple steaks:
1/4 cup of olive oil. Don’t get caught up in the quality…it’s not that important.
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic minced
A good handful of flat leaf parsley ripped from a healthy bunch. Finely chop.
1 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Mix them all together and let the flavors combine for a couple hours before serving.
Apply the chimi liberally to the baguette and drizzle a little bit on top of the sausage itself.
Have a napkin handy because it’s going to bleed a little green goodness on the first couple bites!