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Spanish Chorizo substitute for Paella

My mom says Spanish Chorizo is made with pig brains. She fears the diseases pig brains have and knows you can't kill the bacteria/virus even with cooking. I'm like "the USDA would've already notified people of eating pig brains". I'm about to just get myself Italian sausage and toss it to the Paella. Any suggestions for a substitute for Spanish Chorizo?

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  1. What brand of Spanish Chorizo are you talking about?

    She might be confusing this with the cheapest Mexican style chorizo which lists pork salivary glands as an ingredient.

    You don't have to use any chorizo or sausage in paella. Italian sausage is flavored with fennel seed, which isn't a common flavor in Spanish sausages.

    4 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Frankly, I don't know any brands for Spanish Chorizo. Im guessing my mom doesnt want to by from the stores, but I really dont know where to get them.

      1. re: chuttney1

        I have found an American made spanish chorizo at CostPlus World Imports (which is in California), and a Spanish brand at high end groceries (deli), e.g. Whole Foods. These are vacuum packed dry sausages that don't need frigeration till they are opened.

        The fresh chorizo in ordinary groceries are most likely Mexcian style.

        1. re: chuttney1

          La Espanola Meats has a large selection of imported and their own domestic Spanish-style chorizo.

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          La Espanola Meats
          25020 Doble Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90710

        2. re: paulj

          Not all Italian sausage is flavored with fennel. Where I grew up in New York, you certainly had the option of buying sausages with or without fennel. You may be able to find some without it, pre-packaged, or, if you live near a store that actually makes sausage, just buy it without it. I have used the hot sausage without fennel as an emergency substitute in paella, and my guests actually really liked it. Frankly, the mild, without fennel, might work fine too. Haven't tried that yet.

          The OP can also consider using andouille in a pinch. That works well too, as it has a similar texture. The spices are different, since andouille doesn't usually have smoked paprika, but it works. I have used that too.

          Getting back to the "pigs' brains" comment -- My advice for the OP is to just read the labels and buy a quality chorizo from Spain. Those would be already cooked, highly spiced, smoky, and somewhat firm. Avoid Mexican chorizo if this concerns you, as it is usually an uncooked sausage and, depending upon who is making them (just like anything else), it might contain by-products and things you don't want to eat. Totally different texture from Spanish chorizo too.

        3. chinese sausage (lap cheong) is actually not bad in paella. ymmv.

          1. "... She fears the diseases pig brains have and knows you can't kill the bacteria/virus even with cooking..."

            Fear mongering. The above claim is without any substantial scientific evidence to back it up. Pigs are NOT host animals for prion-based disease. Cow, sheep and deer, yes; but pig, no.

            When I was last in Spain (and that was 3 weeks ago), the people weren't exactly keeling over from a nation-wide outbreak of spongiform encephalopathy. The porcine chorizo, lomo, and jamon all remain fantastically good, safe, and available.

            1. Portuguese Sausage or Linguisa is another name for it...Sam's Club has the more oily one than the ones from Hawaii at Marukai..

              1. If you really don't want to use it, then get some "hot links" (Johnsonville), they work well, too. But I'd go with the Spanish chorizo. NOT Mexican.