I travel by taste, and most of my trips are planned around what to eat and where to eat it. Like all Spanish regions, Extremadura has its own culinary specialties-- and they are good. We were lucky to have time to sample plenty of delicious regional dishes, cured meats, and cheeses while in Extremadura. Here are my 5 suggestions for must-try eats in the region.
Blood sausage often sounds scary—and the traditional black morcilla looks quite terrifying too. But morcilla patatera, a blood sausage that is mixed with pureed potatoes and smoked paprika, looks exactly like its cousin chorizo and tastes even better. Morcilla patatera is a specialty throughout Extremadura and you can find it at virtually any meat market or food shop in the region. Served as a tapa or with some bread for an afternoon snack, it is highly addictive and capable of converting anyone into a blood sausage connoisseur.
Morcilla de Calabaza
When I first tried morcilla patatera it forever changed my mind about not liking morcilla. But when I tried morcilla de calabaza—I fell in love. Morcilla de calabaza is a creamy mix of pureed squash or pumpkin, pork fat, and the best smoked paprika in Spain (and perhaps the world). This Extremeñan specialty is something I would consider risking the $200 fine to sneak back into the US!
Torta del Casar
Extremadura is known worldwide for its Torta del Casar, a sheep’s milk cheese that will melt your heart. It originates in Cáceres, Spain, where there are only ten family run cheese farms producing it. The special breeds of sheep raised to make the cheese produce such a low yield that it takes the milk of 20 sheep to make a large wheel of Torta del Casar!
Stale bread and some pork fat—migas is certainly a poor man’s meal in origin. But today, some of the best restaurants throughout Extremadura are serving their delicious versions of this hearty plate. The ones we tried typically consisted of fried bread, pork ribs, chorizo, and red pepper. A must-try plate if you are in the region!
Pimentón de la Vera
I’ve saved the best for last. I could dedicate an entire post to how much I love Pimentón de la Vera. This smoked paprika from Extremadura is the most famous in Spain for good reason. Its intense flavor and bright red color pack a punch to any plate. It is available in sweet, semisweet, and hot. If you aren’t in Spain you can purchase this life-changing paprika from La Tienda.
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I looking to find MORCILLA DE CALABAZA in the United States because the only place I have found it was from Spain. My Grandmother came from Spain in 1912 and was making MORCILLA DE CALABAZA with her every year. She had the family recipe she but when she past my Uncle threw out all her belongings and recipes. So I have been looking for a Spanish deli that carries MORCILLA DE CALABAZA or if could find a recipe for it just to bring back one of the foods that I grew up with a child. I hope someone can help.
Hi James! Morcilla de calabaza is delicious! I'm afraid I haven't heard of it in the US and taking it back from Spain isn't permitted. They are usually very homemade here, so I would be surprised if anyone had the license to export it. It's pretty fragile stuff! Perhaps you're due to make a visit 🙂
Hello there, I just found this web by chance. I am from Extremadura and I must tell there is a small mistake here, morcilla patatera (potato) and calabacera (pumpkin) they are NOT made with blood, however any of the other morcillas from Extremadura or Spain are all black and made with blood. Nobody knows why we call it morcilla, but just wanted to clarify this two kinds doesn't have any blood on their ingredients.
Hello Antonio! Thanks for the correction! This makes so much sense now 🙂
Tortta de Casar is my all time favourite Spanish cheese.With a couple of glasses of good red wine...pure heaven!!
I agree Patrick! You know about the good things in life... 🙂
There's a fine?! I must bring jamón back with me - I'm sure that even with the fine it would be cheaper than buying it in the US, so I think I can deal!
I didn't have plans to visit Extremadura while I'm here, but with your posts about the area (especially the food!) I may have to make some!
Oh no! There is a fine-- a big one, since you have to lie on your customs form and say you have no food. And you feel like a criminal for awhile while they yell at you. They also throw away what you've tried to sneak in, with a big BANG in the trash bin for effect. Good luck-- let me know if you make it in!!! I admire your dedication to the jamón 🙂
pumpkin sausage? wow, gotta try that! I read about the great pimenton before our last trip to Spain, had written down the one I wanted to buy and when I was looking for it at El Corte Ingles in Madrid, it wasn't there. Instead I selected Pimenton Dulce, El Ruisenor from Murcia. It's a pretty, bright orange and, honestly? I could not tell much difference when I cooked with it. It was still fun to go to the gourmet shop at El Corte Ingles (not sure it existed when I lived there over 30 years ago). Anyway, this little tin can is so beautiful!! Fun post that made me hungry 😉
I haven't tried the pimentón from Murcia (which is also well-known) but I'm telling you, the smoky flavor of the ones from La Vera is incredible!
I will have to try that one!
I wonder if the last spice is similar to a Chilean Mapuche spice called Merquen. It's delish and sounds like it might be almost the same but it's so hard bc describing tastes is impossible!
I looked up the Chilean spice Kyle and it is also a ground dried pepper, but I think it is a different variety and that yours is actually mixed with some other spices too. Sounds delicious anyway! Hopefully we will be able to visit Chile soon and try it for ourselves!!!