Chorizo de Bilbao

A regular ingredient to many of our dishes is Chorizo de Bilbao.

Traditionally, this was purchased in the Philippines & in the US in a green can with the notation of “Marca el Rey” on the label.

There seems to be some confusion in reading various blogs over the internet about the origins of Chorizo de Bilbao.  Many assumed it was of Spanish origin and then somehow came to the conclusion that it never came from Spain originally and that is purely a Filipino creation that ended up being manufactured & shipped out of Chicago initially and more recently out of Nebraska.

This is the can we all remember:

chorizosHowever, in recent years we’ve all noticed its lack of availability and its lack of flavor (reincarnated by ConAgra foods and now Purefoods).   It has definitely been a disappointment to cook with and have been looking for a better substitute.

Believe it or not, Italian pepperoni will do in a pinch (just be sure to buy a very flavorful brand) over the Filipino-made varieties.

I think this winter, I’m going to order a couple of different ones to check  out:

I wanted to go back to the misconception that Chorizo de Bilbao does not have roots in Spain.  It does.  Read on!

From the La Espanola website:

Chorizo de Bilbao: One of Spain’s most popular cooking chorizos, this is another sausage originally from the Basque provinces and around Pamplona.  Its pungent, slightly firm meat is seasoned with the usual Spanish trinity of garlic, pimenton and pepper, but it’s also laced with cumin and oregano.  Similar to but more robust than uncured chorizo fresco, chorizo de Bilbao stores well in the refrigerator and keeps for a longer periods than the fresh sausages.


Lola Lilay’s (& Auntie Dita’s) Macaroni

Perhaps one of the most beloved dishes in the Esmilla collection of recipes is Lola’s Macaroni.  Originally it was always “Lola Lilay’s Macaroni” but on the East Coast it has morphed into “Auntie Dita’s/Lola Dita’s Macaroni”.

The cousins always thought this was a specialty to our family.  Imagine my shock to find the same exact dish being served at my Uncle Mac’s house in Los Angeles.  What’s wrong with that?  Uncle Mac is my Dad’s brother & NOT an Esmilla!  It turns out that Auntie Leny, his wife, is also from Laguna and it’s a mainstay in their family!  In talking to their daughter, my cousin Pia, we’ve found a lot of similarities to our mothers’ cooking thanks to their Laguna roots.

Another interesting thing about Lola’s Macaroni is that we tend to prepare this dish at the same time.  Last Christmas (2008) during our family phone calls over Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, we learned that Auntie Baby in Vancouver, Uncle Pito & Uncle Manny in NY, and  we in Houston had cooked the same thing for the Christmas holiday.  😀


  • Chicken breast – chopped
  • Chorizo – chopped – use pepperoni when Bilbao Spanish chorizo is not available – do not use Mexican chorizo – consistency is very different than Spanish Bilbao chorizo *
  • Vienna Sausage
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions – chopped
  • Garlic – minced
  • Margarine (or Smart Balance) **
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese (Kraft is great for this recipe)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Elbow macaroni


  1. In a pot, bring tomatoes to a gentle boil – enough to be able to peel skin away. After skin is peeled, drain and set aside.
  2. Chop chicken breast, chorizo & Vienna Sausage (pork optional).
  3. In a large sautee pan, brown garlic & onions in margarine.
  4. Add chicken & brown (or, if preferred boil chicken first, then chop into small bits).
  5. Add Vienna sausage, chorizo and then chopped tomatoes.
  6. Simmer and then add remaining ingredients.
  7. While simmering on low, boil pasta as directed on package. Do not overcook.  Drain well.
  8. Stir a large tablesoon of margarine on drained pasta. Fold tomato mixture into pasta and then sprinkle generously with parm.

*Chorizo de Bilbao is the Spanish sausage for this dish.  In the past, we always used Marca El Rey Chorizo de Bilbao but in recent years, their chorizo has become less available.  Filipino markets in the US (NY & San Diego anyway) started carrying Purefoods Chorizo but it wasn’t very flavorful and disappointment to cook with.  We’ve experimented with all sorts of chorizos and are still on the lookout.  If anyone finds a near equivalent, please comment!

**I know it’s bad and normally I can’t stand the taste but this recipe really, really tastes so much better with genuine margarine!  In fact, it just doesn’t taste like “Lola’s Macaroni” unless it’s prepared with margarine!  So please…don’t substitute!