Chireta


Chireta

Chireta is an Aragonese type of haggis. It is a flavorful rustic dish typical to the counties of Ribagorza, Sobrarbe and Somontano de Barbastro, high up in the Spanish Pyrenees. In the Catalan counties of Alta Ribagorça and Pallars, formerly territories united to the historic County of Ribagorza in medieval Aragon, chireta is known as gireta, or girella, respectively.

Being a mountain recipe, nothing goes to waste: once the choice cuts of a slaughtered sheep have been reserved, the intestines, tripe, neck meat, minced liver including heart and lungs, are all used. This is enhanced with rice, chopped pancetta or bacon, cured ham, parsley, garlic, a pinch of cinnamon, salt and white pepper.

"Chireta" literally means "Inside Out"—i.e., the sheep's intestines which make up the casings are cleaned and turned inside out for a smoother, more appetizing appearance.

The casing is cleaned in white vinegar then rinsed very well before filling. The filling contains rice mixed with garlic, parsley and seasoned chopped meats. Casings are filled about a half to two-thirds of the way with the rice mixture, taking care not to overfill them, as the rice will expand once the chiretas are boiled in the broth—otherwise they are liable to burst. Once trussed, and just before cooking, they're also examined to make sure any air pockets are pushed out.

Chiretas are usually served hot, as a main dish. However they taste just as good, if not better, when served up as tapas, sliced, dipped in an egg-flour batter, and fried to a golden color.

Chiretas can be found on the menu in restaurants of the Ribagorza, and Sobrarbe regions, and can also be sampled as tapas in the wine valley cuisine of the Somontano area.

In 2002, a Somontano meat packer initiated a Chireta Festival, which has been running every year since then, around the 3rd weekend of October. In 2002, they achieved a record entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest and heaviest chireta in the world: 103.75 meters long, weighing a total of 220 kg.

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