Spanish Chorizo and Manchego Pizza

As the snow falls again in my backyard, I taste small slices from two kinds of Spanish chorizo and look out the window at those damned starlings eating all the good bird food. I hate those nasty birds. They are the bullies of the bird world. I then realize that I’ve hated chorizo most of my adult life, until just nine months ago.

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Before leaving to get some Black Cat bottlerockets to scare those damned greasy birds away, I concentrate on the flavors. The longer chorizo is mellower than the… er…shorter-looking one. Both of these pork sausages are packed with big chunks of delicious pork fat and roughly cut meat. The Spanish paprika imparts a smoky, yet not overpowering spice to it, not hot at all.

The chorizo of my past was way too spicy and gave me heartburn. Little did I know that I was probably eating low-end American- or Mexican- made sausages passing themselves off as authentic chorizo.This chorizo, however, is so fully flavored with garlic, smoke and paprika that I am softening my stance and considering giving those gutter birds a reprieve.

I intend to pair this chorizo with aged Spanish Manchego made from sheeps’ milk from the La Mancia region. It is slightly salty and and has an almost cheddar-asiago taste like a toned-down, hard feta. It will stand up well to the chorizo, which will melt on the pizza, i.e. large globs of beautiful fat and paprika will run along the melted Manchego like gorgeous red lakes. Adding some sweet sauteed yellow onion, roasted red peppers and fresh cilantro would round this bodacious pie up nicely.

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I have Lucy to thank for my new-found love of chorizo. Lucy had just come back from a long stay in Spain and she wanted to get back on her feet. I offered her a job because she had been an awesome employee at Avalanche in the past. During her first week back, she handed me a baggy with what looked like 3-inch dog poop in it.

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“What’s this?” I asked.

“Illegal Spanish chorizo,” she said, looking around for government spies. (I am not using her real name, since it was unlawful for her to smuggle the chorizo into the country.)

I tried a little piece and gave the three guys working that morning a slice also. The red, dry-aged sausage was so flavorful and not at all spicy, like I had envisioned. I cut another slice, and another, another and another until it was gone. The smokiness staying with me in the back of my throat. It ranked with the best sausage I’ve ever eaten.

Now I’ve found a place in Columbus that sells both types of real Spanish chorizo: the long rope, which is a little mellower, and the small sausage version (okay yes, the one that looks like dog poop!) This is not the all-too-spicy Mexican chorizo that flavors soups and stews, but the mellow, smoky, chorizo with big chunks of fat that act as flavor nuggets to your soul.

“With this, I will make the best pizza ever!” I exclaimed like Napolean, while standing at the check-out counter (as the teller secretly put her finger on the silent alarm button).Well, here it is, a great pizza. Tell me how you like it.

1 recipe Easy Dough (freeze the second dough ball if you are not making 2 pizza)

1 small yellow onion, sliced in half then across the grain

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small can Hunt’s tomato sauce

2 pinches oregano

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup shredded imported Manchego cheese (don’t use a Microplane- you’ll be sorry)

1 cup sliced chorizo (for the good Spanish stuff, leave me a comment and I’ll let you know where to find it.) Cut the chorizo on the bias, (not in coins but on the diagonal, as shown below)

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1 small roasted red pepper (See recipe in Toro, Sweet Bell Pepper Pizza. Take the whole pepper, after steaming and de-seeding, and set on a cutting board for topping prep)

A couple of sprigs of fresh cilantro

Preheat an upturned heavy cookie sheet on the middle deck in a 450 degree oven.

Place the onion in a small saute pan with the olive oil, and saute on medium-high for 4 minutes until just softened.

To make the sauce, combine the tomato sauce, oregano and sugar  in a small bowl. Taste and add more sugar if desired.

Bang the dough out into a 10- to 11-inch round as indicated in the Easy Dough Recipe. Place on parchment paper.

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Put  3 to 4 tablespoons of the sauce on the dough.

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Spread the sauteed onions, then the grated Manchego cheese on the sauce.

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Place the chorizo atop the cheese.

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Julienne the roasted red peppers and place on the chorizo.

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Slide the pizza, still on the parchment paper, onto the hot upturned cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and crisp when you run a spatula under the pizza. Top with the sprigs of cilantro and serve.

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Eat it like the ravenous dog that you are, and don’t worry about those damned starlings or the snow.

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12 Responses to “Spanish Chorizo and Manchego Pizza”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi there

    I grew up on spanish chorizo and would love to know where to get some locally-ishly. Please email me the source, I am plotting to try my hand at paella soon…


  2. John says:

    Yes, Take 33 to columbsus, then 70 to 71 north to broadway, turn left, to Indianola and then 2nd light. I’m sorry, I forgot the name but it is in a mall on the right. They have a ton of great stuff.

  3. Chad says:

    Just made this last night. The flavors just melted together and was amazing.

  4. John says:

    Hey Chad,
    Twas great to have you and your wife out to see us. I hope the guys took good care of you at the store when you got there. Are you gonna open a woodfired place? I gotta e-mail you the last N.Y. Times article on “The best of the best of the best pizza places in the U.S.A.” (they never seem to get out of the east or west coast). Have you checked out Flour and Water in S.Fran. They put bone marrow on pies…that’s my kinda pizza “just park the ambulance over there because I’m gonna order the goose liver pizza too.” lol
    You know, the last pizza that won in NAPICS (north american pizza and ice cream show, columbus) was with raw chorizo baked on the pie so the juices just ran and melded with the cheese. I like the Manchego though, great combo.
    Hey, we’d love to come up and taste your woodfired stuff. I still highly reccommend Tony’s school (international school of pizza) it rocks.

  5. John says:

    Hey Chad,
    Twas great to have you and your wife out to see us. I hope the guys took good care of you at the store when you got there. Are you gonna open a woodfired place? I gotta e-mail you the last N.Y. Times article on

  6. carol says:

    Studying Spanish county food sites and Jamies Escapes in Andalusia. The style and authenticity intrigues me. Looking forward to info on where to buy this marvelous Spanish style chorizo and maybe jamon serreno.

  7. John says:

    Thanks Carol, the Spanish hams and sausages are now appearing in specialty stores. I wish the Italian ones will follow.

    John G.

  8. joyce momah says:

    hi john

    I would love to make your pizza do you know the name of the store I can buy the spainish

    thanks Joyce

  9. John says:

    Hey Joyce, If you live in Columbus Ohio, they have some nice imported chorizo at Weiland market on Indianola (just one block north of broadway) I make my own and have an aversion to the uber-spicy Mexican chorizo that gives me heartburn.

    take care, John

  10. Catarina says:

    Who sells Spanish Chorizo or Portugese Chorizo in the Columbus area? Can you share the name of the store(s) and location. Near Gahanna, Westerville, or Easton would be close to home – but I have no problem driving to Reynoldsburg or Pickerington….

  11. Catarina says:

    Would you be able to send me your recipe for Chorizo?
    The only one I’ve had so far is from Portugal shipped from Boston MA

  12. John says:

    the only place I’ve found in Columbus was at WYLANDS GROCERY STORE. Take the Broadway exit from I71 and head west to Indianola 1 block and turn Right (or north) and it’s 2 blocks up in a mall that has the Salvation Army store. It’s a great place to find frogs legs, duck breast and fat, veal, cows tounge, real spanish chorizo and fresh fish! I love this place!
    take care!

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