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We're crazy for the rust-colored, chile-flavored pork sausages called chorizo, which impart an intense flavor and a spicy kick to some of our favorite dishes.

We're crazy for the rust-colored, chile-flavored pork sausages called chorizo, which impart an intense flavor and a spicy kick to some of our favorite dishes, like huevos con chorizo (eggs with chorizo) and Caldo Gallego (the hearty Spanish meat and vegetable soup).

Varieties of the sausage appear in markets worldwide, but the chorizo most often found in the United States are the Spanish and Mexican kinds. In Spain, "chorizo" generally refers to cured, hard, ready-to-eat sausage that comes in one long link; it's usually available at specialty markets packaged in plastic. Made from coarsely chopped pork and seasoned with garlic and, often, pimenton, Spain's beloved smoked paprika, this type of chorizo has a taste and dryish texture similar to pepperoni's. In addition to ready-to-eat chorizo, Spaniards use semifresh cooking chorizo (a partially cured sausage that must be cooked).

By contrast, the Mexican chorizo you'll find at most grocers' in the States is almost always fresh—and, hence, must be cooked. It's also most often available in thick, short links made of ground pork and is seasoned with dried chiles like guajillo, along with oregano, cumin, and garlic, among other flavorings. When cooked, it renders its chile-stained fat, dramatically coloring—and flavoring—whatever it is cooking with. Different types of chorizo are also found in Portugal and in such Latin American countries as El Salvador and Colombia. Wherever we find it, it's just about our favorite sausage on Earth.