Linguiça is a type of sausage which comes from Portugal. It is also known as linguica or linguisa. The sausage is distinguished by a mildly spicy flavor tempered with a smoking process which makes the sausage flavorful and tender. Linguiça can be found in soups and breads, and it is also used for things like sandwich fillings.
There are a number of ways to obtain linguiça. Many grocery stores carry it, especially in regions with a sizable Portuguese community. A specialty butcher may also make linguiça, along with an assortment of other cured and smoked meats. Finally, linguiça can be ordered from a company which specializes in traditional Portuguese foods. Some companies import linguiça for their customers, while others make it on site, along with other Portuguese sausage favorites like Chourico.
The primary ingredient of linguiça is pork butt, which is cut into rough pieces and mixed with spices. Pork butt tends to be lean, resulting in a leaner sausage with a more meaty flavor. Common spices in linguiça include oregano, paprika, garlic, pepper, cumin, and sometimes cinnamon. These spices are mixed thoroughly with the uncooked meat, which is allowed to rest before being forced into sausage cases.
Some cooks brine their linguiça in a vinegar and salt mixture overnight before smoking it, while others mix the brine in with the meat before making the sausages. In either case, the brine mellows the flavor of the sausage and adds a distinct flavor. The resulting sausage can be eaten fresh, but it is more often smoked to make it more durable. Usually, linguiça needs to be stored under refrigeration or frozen, and it will need to be cooked before being eaten.
Linguiça can be used like other sausages in an assortment of foods. It makes an excellent pizza topping, especially for people who prefer more mild sausage. It can also be tossed with pasta, kneaded into bread dough, or served hot in a sandwich heaped with an assortment of roasted vegetables. As with all pork products, make sure that linguiça is cooked thoroughly before serving.
For a classic Portuguese soup, try simmering sliced linguiça in a rich stock with vegetables such as carrots, kale, and potatoes. Add white beans towards the end, and serve hot with crusty bread and oil or butter. You can also use an assortment of Portuguese sausages in this soup for a more complex flavor, and when they are in season, fresh fava beans make an excellent addition to the soup.