Argentina's Versatile Chorizo Sandwich, The Choripán

Every big city around the world has a street food they are known for. In New York City, it's the hot dog. Vietnam has the banh mi sandwich. In Paris, you'll find crêpes; in Berlin, you'll find wursts. Shawarma is enjoyed throughout the Middle East, and the best tacos are in Baja California. Street foods are typically affordable, quickly prepared and served foods that can be eaten on the go. They will often showcase their country's prized and plentiful ingredients. All of these factors are true for the choripán, Argentina's delicious handheld sandwich.

Also popular in Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay, the choripán consists of a split roll stuffed with a link of chorizo, or sausage. It checks all of the boxes of a classic street food — it's cheap, handheld, and delicious. Rapidly finding its way to American restaurants, food trucks, and home kitchens, the choripán is a sandwich you'll want to seek out and try.

Where did the choripán come from?

Portland's Alecocina restaurant notes that choripán — named for "chori" (nickname for "chorizo," a sausage) and "pan" ("bread") — likely originated in the mid-19th century when South American cowboys, known as gauchos, would rig up grills in the middle of the countryside in order to cook their meats, which they ate in between bread. Eventually, these improvised grills (and the recipes that utilized them) made their way to urban areas and cities, such as Buenos Aires, where passersby would smell the scent of fire-grilled meat and suddenly get very hungry, per Google Arts & Culture. When it comes to food marketing, sometimes the simplest methods are the best.

The fact that this popular food features a heavy dose of meat is no surprise. The Argentinians are known for producing some of the best beef in the world, and they eat their fair share of it. According to Google Arts & Culture, the people of Argentina eat an average of 265 pounds of meat per person per year. Most of this meat is beef, followed by poultry and pork.

What's in a choripán?

The best things in life may not always be free, but they are often simple, as shown in this humble sandwich. The bread traditionally used to make choripán is a long, white roll, similar to a French baguette. Split down the middle vertically, it is often grilled, split side down. According to San Diego-based restaurant, Puerto La Boca, excess bread on the inside of the roll is sometimes scooped out to make room for toppings. The restaurant notes that the sausage is link-style, but split down the middle as well before laying atop the fire to cook; however, many choripán vendors grill and serve their chorizos whole. Google Arts & Culture suggests that, traditionally, the sausage is made from 70% beef and 30% pork and is seasoned with nutmeg, paprika, fennel, or clove. Like so many foods, choripán has evolved over time, and it is acceptable to make and enjoy choripán with sausages made from a variety of meats and with vegan options.

The last element that goes into a choripán, and one that Saveur argues is the most important, is chimichurri sauce. A blend of oil, vinegar, fresh herbs, and onion, the classic Argentinian condiment balances the lovely grease from the sausage and soaks into the roll, making every bite deliciously satisfying. Often, you'll find salsa criolla as a topping option, which consists of thinly sliced onions, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and vinegar. Other purveyors will top the sandwich with lettuce and tomato.

How to make a choripán at home

Ideally, an authentic choripán is made with Argentinian-style sausage. You may be able to find such an ingredient at a reputable butcher or even online, but if not, Saveur suggests asking your meat purveyor for a sausage that is fresh (i.e. not smoked) and made of either 100% pork or a blend of pork and beef. The bright red, Mexican-style sausage labeled "chorizo" you see in the supermarket is not a good alternative. If you are grilling your sausage whole without butterflying them, a medium heat setting is ideal because it will give you a good char on the outside and won't cook so fast that the middle will be raw.

Grill a split long roll to your liking when the sausage is almost done. To serve, place your split or whole sausage in the middle of the bun and douse the inside with a freshly made chimichurri sauce. That's basically it. One bite and you'll see why every park, sporting arena, festival, and city street corner in Argentina offers the choripán as a snack or meal.