Street Eats: Pão com Chouriço

Portugal is well-known for its street side cafes and their two or three bite wonders. A typical cafe has about 50 different forms of fried bacalao (cod-fish), various baked goods, and coffee at all hours of the day. These daily delights are served over the counter or at a table. There’s one glorious street food exception to the cafe norm:

Pão com Chouriço

Pão com chouriço is simple and satisfying. Like it sounds, we’re talking white bread stuffed with chouriço. But good Pão com Chouriço is a complex wonderland of flavor and textures.

It all starts with the chouriço. Chouriço is Portuguese sausage made from the scraps of whole animal butchery heavily seasoned with paprika, garlic, onion powder, and salt. Every culture has its own variation of chouriço (or chorizo), with different names, shapes, sizes, textures etc.

What makes Portuguese chouriço unique, is the large dice on the back fat it’s made from. That fat is diced and incorporated into the medium-to-fine-ground meats that make up the rest of the sausage, leaving large pockets of delicious fatty explosions throughout the sausage. This manteca also plays an important role in this particular street eat: as the bread bakes and the chouriço heats up, the fat melts and saturates the soft white bread with delicious seasoned fatty oils.

Pao_com_Chorizo_3Three brick ovens turning out nothing but Pão com Chouriço | Sintra, Portugal 

But chouriço isn’t the only star of this street performance.

The white bread, in particular its preparation, is a key factor in making Pão com chouriço a street eats classic. The bread is baked in a piping hot brick oven (preferably tended by adorable senior citizens). The oven’s high heat creates a hard crunchy exterior but leaves the interior soft and airy.

All this for just 1 euro, and you’re looking at an unbeatable Portuguese street eat. We picked up a few farmers market pão com chourico on our way out of Sintra.

If too you see a sign like this, pull over.

Sintra_pao_com_chorizoIn the zone | Sintra, Portugal