It is red and smooth, has a fantastic smell and taste and can be spread on bread – that’s Sobrasada, a very special and versatile Mallorcan delicacy with a long history reaching back to ancient times.The origins of the Sobrasada are uncertain. Was it introduced to the islands by the Romans or invented by the Mallorcan farmers themselves? But one thing is certain: Like many epicurean specialties, the sobrasada is a result of trying to store food as long as possible.
In this case, minced pork meat was mixed with spices, stuffed in animal intestines and hung from a pole to cure. Surprise, surprise – the sausage not only was conserved but the longer the ripening process, the better and more intense the taste.
Tiny pieces and funny shapes
Sobrasada today is produced just like in the old days. The most important ingredient, however, was only added at the end of the 18th century: the paprika powder which lends the Sobrasada its typical look. The meat is ground into millimetre-sized pieces and the muscle fibres are shredded thoroughly. This supports the uptake of the spices and enhances the smoothness of the mixture. Animal intestines of all sizes and shapes are carefully cleaned, heated, and cleared of fat to serve as a secure and natural casing. Then the curing process which follows, carried out at a certain temperature and humidity, causes changes of the physio-chemical and microbiological properties which not only determine the characteristic taste, but the aroma, the consistency, and the preservability as well.
Depending on the pepper content, Sobrasada comes in hot or not so hot varieties. The string which is tied around the intestine can be used to differentiate between these varieties, the red or red and white string being the hot one.
This wholly individual sausage comes in many different and strange shapes, sometimes evoking funny associations. This explains the different names: there are the thin, U-shaped sausages called „Longaniza“ with a weight of 200 to 300 grams, the most common variant „Semirizada/Rizada“ with 500 to 800 grams, or the rare „Bisbe“ weighing up to 30 kg.
Plastic containers and regulatory boards
The only innovation is a concession to modern supermarket times. Nowadays you can buy Sobrasada handily packed in plastic containers in small portions. The difference to the classic variant: Sobrasada in animal intestines continues to ripen and such to improve its aroma while the ripening process is abruptly ended when the sausage is packed into the vacuumized plastic – but the quality is nevertheless excellent. This is guaranteed by a regulatory board with the colourful name ‘Consejo Regulador de la Denominación Específica Sobrasada de Mallorca’. This body awards all companies and products which are produced according to the rules and pass all quality tests with a seal of origin. As a consumer one is thus well advised to look for this seal. (But if a Mallorcan offers you her homemade Sobrasada, you should accept it without hesitation. It is still a custom in traditional households to produce their own Sobrasada according to the old family recipes which are definitely worth trying, seal or no seal…..).
If you really want to indulge yourself, you should go for the Sobrasada from the black pig, Mallorca’s thoroughbred race, with an even better meat quality. Maybe it’s because these animals, according to the rules of the regulatory board, are fed with barley, legumes and tasty figs during the last months of their lives…
Sobrasada and honey – a strong-sweet couple
Sobrasada is mainly consumed as spread, with the saltless Mallorcan bread perfectly complimenting the spicy paprika sausage. But Sobrasada is also an important part of the local cuisine, be it traditional or modern. The usages are manifold: you can refine sauces and stews or stuff lamb shoulder, poultry or ravioli with it. Sobrasada accompanies sea food, scrambled eggs, vegetables and even desserts. Strong and sweet – these are the keywords for the most traditional and most beloved Mallorcan variations to enjoy Sobrasada: warm it in a little clay pot and dribble honey onto it or supplement your Sobrasada sandwich with jam and sugar. Some resourceful Mallorcans have even turned it into an icecream – but this is really a matter of taste….
Let yourself be seduced by this unique sausage specialty that is only available on Mallorca and try to let your cooking creativity run free. For your first experiments, we have selected three simple, but clever, recipes.
And if you prefer to be pampered by professionals: in the box we have listed some restaurants which stand out for their extraordinary Sobrasada dishes. As the Mallorcans say, Bon Profit!
Here is a small selection of good restaurants with distinctive Sobrasada specialties which we can recommend warmly:
The restaurant JARDIN in Port d’Alcudia serves an unusual ‘Cherry gazpacho with pieces of lobster and Sobrasada powder’. (C/Tritones, Tel. 971 89 23 91).
Fantastic ‘Sepia with Sobrasada’ is prepared by Lluc Pujol in the restaurant CA’N CARLOS in Palma’s old quarter. (C/de S’Aigua 5, Tel. 971 71 38 69).
‘Fantasy of Sobrasada with honey’ is the traditional variation offered by SA SINIA in Porto Colom. (C/Pescadores 25, Tel. 971 82 43 23).
‘Bacalao with Sobrasada, pine nuts and honey sauce’ can be savoured at the CA’S METGE MONJO in Maria de la Salut. (C/Antoni Monjo, Tel. 97152 51 10).
‘Suckling pig filled with mushroom mousse accompanied by a Sobrasada coulant’ is available at the hotel and restaurant MARICEL in Ca’s Catala. (Ctra. d’Andratx 11, Tel. 971 70 77 44).
‘Iberian pork fillet with Sobrasada risotto and honey sauce’ is served by Victor Garcia at the fantastically located hotel and restaurant CA’S XORC close to Sóller. (Ctra. de Deià km 56,1, Tel. 971 63 82 80).
Antonia Cantallops, the most famous cook and cookbook author of the island, fills a ‘Lamb shoulder with Sobrasada and eggplant’ the traditional way in her restaurant CELLER CA’N AMER in Inca. (C/Pau 39, Tel. 97150 12 61).
As a sweet-strong finish you can savour the unusual ‘Sobrasada ice cream with honey’ at the restaurant CA’N MARCH in Manacor. (C/Valencia 7, Tel. 971 55 00 02).
All information is subject to change; the restaurants do change their menus regularly. But certainly you’ll be able to find one or the other specialty with Mallorca’s sausage No. 1 on the menus of these restaurants.