It was the end of January, and There was a medieval market in full swing in my town, and I decided to have a bite. There’s always something there that you don’t see every day, from hog roasts to mead, and then I found the bollo preñao stall, and it took me back to my days from when I lived in the north of Spain. I had to get one and it didn’t disappoint. Simple, yet filling and with a decent flavour, if you’re into meat and bread, keep reading.
A typical bollo preñao (bollu preñau in Asturianu) is Semi cured chorizo wrapped in bread dough and baked in an oven, originating from the Asturias/Cantabria region of Spain in the north. It’s quite a thick dough, so when you eat it, so it will fill a gap just as well as a standard loaded baguette, and some characteristics would include a hole/ cone made in one end exposing the meat, and can be served as a tapa as well as in a bakery or as street food. Because it’s a very old recipe, it’s commonly found in medieval markets or any temporary set up of a similar nature, especially if gastronomy is part of the mix. When that’s the case, you could find this pretty much everywhere in the country.
Bollo preñaos are traditionally served with chorizo in the middle, but other varieties can be available especially in bakery or the street food stalls. Ham and cheese is a common variety, as well as black pudding (morcilla) bacon, cheese and onion, and puchero (pringá, stewed meat essentially). They typically cost 3-4€ each (often cheaper in bakeries in the north), and are eaten hot, fresh out of the oven, or even cold. On some occasions I’ve seen a bollo with chorizo sliced and mixed into the dough. Be aware, that bollo means roll, so if you see that word on it’s own in a bakery, you’re gonna get some crusty bread rolls instead of a preñao.
It’s really Asturias and Cantabria where you are going to get the full experience of this treat, especially as traditionally cider is used to tenderize the chorizo, lardons are sometimes used to enhance the flavour, and cabbage leaves are sometimes used to help cook it. There’s another dish very similar called borona (boronchu preñau) where the dough is corn based, and the finished product looks a lot darker compared to the original.
So whether you happen to be somewhere on the northern coast of Spain, or at a market full of interesting things to eat, go for a bollo if you want to fill a gap for something different and see what you think. It doesn’t hit your pocket, and there are often other varieties to try if you’re not into chorizo. Enjoy!!