Flaming chorizo

Flaming chorizo

Chourico a bombeiro

By
From
Lisbon
Serves
4 as part of a spread of petiscos
Photographer
Steven Joyce

This dish is a common sight at Portuguese restaurants, where waiters deftly carry the already flaming dish of dried chouriço (chorizo) sausage to the table, where it flickers and sizzles for a couple of minutes, effectively barbecuing it. It is cooked in a special clay dish called an assa chouriço, with ceramic ribs running across it to keep the sausage from falling into the burning alcohol; I usually improvise with a small metal rack fitted inside a heatproof dish.

Because the recipe calls for dried, not cooking chouriço, you don’t need to worry about how long it cooks for.

It almost goes without saying that this is the kind of dish where it pays to be really cautious: have a damp tea towel or fire blanket ready in case of accidents, only do it with the dish sitting on top of a flameproof surface, and only use a heatproof dish and rack.

Never pour alcohol from a bottle onto an already burning flame, as this can result in a fireball.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
20cm dried chourico sausage
3 tablespoons high proof drinking alcohol, such as brandy or white rum, at 44% ABV

Method

  1. Every 5 mm or so, slice the sausage about halfway through the meat, not all the way through, so the heat can penetrate.
  2. Find a heatproof rack that will fit inside a heatproof baking dish or pan. Place the sausage on top, cuts facing up, and pour the alcohol into the dish. Just as you would when flaming a Christmas pudding, pour a little more of the alcohol onto a metal spoon. Warm the spoon gently from beneath, using a long match or lighter, then light the alcohol in the spoon. Once it catches, gently tip the flaming liquid into the bowl, where it will light the alcohol there, too. Stand well back, as the flames will flicker for a couple of minutes, and any fat that drips may also catch and flare up. Use metal tongs to turn the sausage once.
  3. When the flames have died down completely, the sausage is ready to eat.
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