What’s in a name? Seafood and chorizo pastaMarch 8, 2007
My husband was struggling with what to call this dish. It’s not a bouillabaisse, it’s not a stew. It’s not a paella, it’s not a ragout. (Hey, that totally rhymes.) Finally, after much head-scratching, he came up with “seafood and chorizo pasta.”
Well, I can’t reward him any points for originality/creativity… but I can give him mad props for deliciousness. Whatever you call this dish, it has tastiness in spades.
It’s hard to pinpoint what really seals the deal on a dinner this complex and satisfying. Could it be the rich tomato-based sauce coating the mounds of freshly made pasta? Perhaps it’s the smoky, spicy chorizo sausage hiding like treasures throughout? Maybe it’s the sweet and delicate shrimp morsels? Or could it be the fierce and seductive clams, lending their hint of the sea and their decorative shells?
Hmm… Obviously this is going to take more “research” on my part. My fork, please, darling.
Wow, my wife has gotten rather Seussian in her intro. I think it was short only a Lorax, some green ham, and a drawing of an oddly colored anthropomorphized clam. Alas, let us not digress too far. This is about the food, not my favorite children’s books authors.
Which is just as well, because my childhood wouldn’t have included this dish. To be honest, until about a year ago, I’m not sure I would have even considered eating this dish. Until recently, I didn’t care for most seafood. I’m convinced it has more to do with growing up in the Midwest without access to good fish than the taste of seafood itself. Since living here, seafood is a regular staple.
On to the substance of the dish! Originally, I was inspired by Portuguese cooking. I had seen this style of dish using Linguica, a smoked Portuguese sausage. (I suspect this dish has a rightful, and beautiful, Portuguese moniker but, alas, I could not find that recipe.) When I first attempted this dish, then, I used linguica and tried to stick with flavors that were true (in my mind) to the region. The results were delicious, but the smoke flavor from the sausage I felt distracted. So using the same flavoring ideas, I built this recipe.
It turned out to be one of my favorite things I’ve made of late. There is something about the seafood — the clams, in particular. They change the whole dish, giving it depth and character…. They bring the ocean in. I honestly think I could eat this once a week and still crave it.
Finally, for those who, like I was, are unfamiliar with how to deal with our little bivalve friend, here are a few tips on how to clean them once you get them home. And remember, they should be closed before you cook them, and open afterward. If either is not the case, pitch them.
Oh, and if anyone can find the name of the Portuguese dish that I’m citing, it would be very much appreciated.
Seafood and Chorizo Pasta
Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 40 minutes
1 lb pasta
1 35 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 lb. chorizo (or linguica sausage)
1/2 lb. shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
black pepper/grains of paradise
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil. (It is important not to add too much; the sausages will give up a good deal of fat.) Once the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook for about 4 minutes per side. Once brown on both sides, remove the sausage from the pot and let rest.
2. Add the onions, bell peppers and garlic to the pot. Salt the vegetables liberally. Let cook over heat for 5 minutes, allowing the onions to turn translucent and the pepper to soften. Once the sausage has cooled, slice into bite-sized pieces, then add sausage, tomatoes, cilantro, bay leaf and wine. Cover and let cook for at least 15 minutes while the sauce develops.
4. While the sauce is cooking, add a pot to the stove and boil enough water to cook the pasta.
5. Once the sauce has cooked, add the sugar and season to your tastes. At this point, you can leave the sauce at a simmer in a holding pattern. The only step remaining is to cook the seafood — which will be quick. So, if you are cooking for guests or waiting for the family to gather, wait until right before you are ready to serve to add the shellfish. Once ready, bring the broth to a boil and add the clams and shrimp. Cover and return the heat to medium. Let cook for 10 minutes or until the clams open wide. If any fail to open, toss them.
6. Cook and strain the pasta while cooking the seafood. The pasta should be al dente. Once the clams have opened and cooked, add some of the tomato sauce to a pan along with the pasta. Toss together to coat the pasta. Plate the pasta, adding more of the sausage, clams and shrimp to each serving. Top with parmesan cheese and serve. Enjoy!