Zorza Gallega (Galician Chorizo-Spiced Pork Loin)

 

When my parents were younger they partook in a traditional Spanish custom known as La Matanza (The Slaughter) whereby a pig (or more depending on your social background) would be slaughtered around St Martin’s Day or Martinmas (11th November), time of the end of winter preparations.

“A todo porquiño lle chega o seu San Martiño” (Similar to an old English saying His Martinmas will come as it does to every hog, meaning wrongdoers will get their comeuppance.

La Matanza was a bittersweet family celebration. On the one hand, it was sad because a poor piggy had to be sacrificed (my mum says that she can still hear the poor piggy squealing and eventually taking its final breath) but on the other hand it was a joyous occasion because the pig would feed the family for the coming year.  Each member of the family (from young to older generations) had different jobs assigned to them; from the butchery to collecting the blood in a bucket and stirring it with your hands to prevent it from clotting, which would then be made into black puddings or filloas de sangre (Galician blood pancakes).

From this pig they would make 2 cured hams (ready for the coming year, meaning they could dig into last year’s ham), black pudding, chorizo, sausages and a myriad of other preparations depending on which part of Spain you are from. In my mums area (Cuenca) they would prepare lomo de orza, which is pork loin gently fried over a low heat in lard and spices which would then be preserved in an orza (a type of terracotta pot) along with the lard (which would as a protective barrier from bacteria and thus preventing the meat from spoiling) and eaten throughout the year. In my dads area (A Coruña) they would make zorza. 

Zorza began its life as the meat and spice mixture that was used to make chorizos. Before actually encasing the meat in pig intestines, some of the mixture would be fried to check for seasonings (and pig out – pun intended).

La matanza may have practically died out (such as shame; you couldn’t ask for better organic, no carbon footprint local food) but people still want to savour that meat that was fried off before becoming chorizos and therefore Zorza has evolved into a dish that is thoroughly enjoyed all over Galicia (and other parts of Spain).

The meat can be prepared two ways; either minced (as it would be to be encased in intestines) or in bite sized chunks. Personally, I prefer it in chunks.

Alternatively, you can use this recipe to make chorizos. Encase the meat in intestines (or artificial sausage casing), tie up and hang to dry.

Ingredients

500g pork loin, diced or minced

3 Tbsp. hot pimenton (or hot paprika)

2 Tbsp. sweet pimenton (or regular paprika)

3 bay leaves

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp oregano

1 glass white wine

A good glug of olive oil

Salt, to taste

Method

1 Marinade the meat in all the ingredients and leave for AT LEAST 48 hours.

2 In a pan, fry the meat off (no oil needed) till cooked through. Add a bit of water to keep the meat moist during cooking.

Serve with fried potatoes and eggs and you have a good satisfying meal or serve as a tapa. 

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