As I mentioned earlier, I’ve commandeered the kitchen this weekend, since MS is sick. I’ve reviewed some new cookbooks that I’ve never tried before (gifts from prior Christmases) and found some great foundation recipes. I’ve tweaked these recipes a bit before I tried them out.
For lunch on Saturday I made a Portuguese Seafood and Sausage Stew. The ingredients I used – which made a perfectly sized lunch for two – are as follows:
- Olive Oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
- 6 ounces (or so) of cured Chorizo (I was lucky enough to use Olympia Provisions Chorizo)
- 1 half yellow onion – diced
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine – I used a vinho verde from Portugal
- 1/2 cup rustic cut tomatoes (from tetra pak – not garden fresh, unfortunately)
- 1/2 pound peeled and de-veined fresh shrimp
- 10 little neck clams
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
I had never cooked clams before. So I asked the guy at the fish counter at my local grocery is there was anything special I needed to do here and he said I should put some ice water in a bowl with a lot of salt and soak the clams for about an hour. After an hour rinse several times with cold water and use a clean town to scrub the shells – you want to make sure they are clean before they go into your pot. No one wants some sandy/dirt in the stew.
Here’s my technique on this recipe:
Heat the olive oil, over medium high heat, in a medium stock pot. Toss in the chorizo and cook until it is browned around the edges – don’t worry, if you use a cured chorizo (which I recommend) you don’t have to cook it through, you are just giving it a browned edge and a warming it up. By the time this dish is done, the chorizo will be warmed throughout. Don’t overcook it – which is easy to do in this step.
Once chorizo is browned (about 3-5 minutes) toss in the onions, garlic, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Cook uncovered until the onions are soft – around 5-7 minutes. When the onions are soft add the wine and let reduce to about half the volume (about 2 minutes), then add in the tomatoes and stir while cooking for about 3-4 minutes.
Add in the clams and cover with a tight fitting lid. We want to keep the steam from these ingredients in the pot. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes. At this point you should see the clams opening up.
Place the shrimp in the pot (on top of the clam shells). Replace the lid and cook until the shrimp is done. My shrimp took about 4 minutes to turn a translucent pink color. Keep the lid on the pot! Keep all that steam in – it’ll keep the shrimp tender while cooking it through.
Divide this recipe up between two bowls – each bowl should have the same number of clams and shrimp. If you have any clams that didn’t open, trash those. You don’t want to try to eat these – it’ll make for a truly awful day. Finish it off with the chopped cilantro – and while you’re at it, pour a couple glasses of that vinho verde you used earlier.
There isn’t a ton of sauce with this dish, but I wish I had a small baguette to mop of the bit of sauce that was left over. Live and learn. This recipe took me right at 30 minutes from kick off until first plated bite. While the clams are soaking you can prep everything else and just start tossing them into the pot at go time.
Other than the 60 minute clam soak time, this is a recipe that could easily be used as a week night meal but also flavorful and elegant enough to serve to guests.
How would you tweak this recipe to make it your own? Personally, next time, I’d add more tomatoes and a baguette as a side utensil to sop up the extra tomato sauce. If I doubled the tomato sauce, I’d like add 50% more red pepper flake and a touch of salt and pepper. You’ll notice I didn’t use salt in this recipe (other than in the clam bath) – the cured chorizo had a bit of salt that carried through nicely. As always, taste as you go and built flavors!