In honor of my recent trip to Barcelona, I put together a tapas night the other evening, setting out little plates of Spanish-inspired this and that and lots of napkins. It’s just about the easiest way to entertain good friends, with half of the menu store-bought (olives, Marcona almonds, an aged Manchego) and everyone reaching over each other to pour another glass of Tempranillo and spear another toothpicked bite. Canapés of goat cheese and roasted red pepper turned out to be the sleeper hit, though a close second was this super-quick mashup of two great Spanish ideas: garlicky prawns (gambas al ajillo), tender and just cooked through, and rich, smoky chorizo.
It’s important to seek out Spanish chorizo for this recipe, the cured, ready-to-eat variety of the pork sausage. Mexican-style chorizo shares the same distinctive reddish color, from paprika or chiles, but it’s sold fresh (read: raw) and can’t be substituted. Save the Mexican chorizo for taco filling or a killer breakfast scramble with diced potato, egg and fresh chopped herbs; remove the chorizo from its casings and prepare as you would ground beef or pork.
Barcelona might still be 6,000 miles away, but I know the shortcut to keep a favorite city close: gutsy Spanish nibbles washed down with big, jammy wine. Windows thrown open. People dancing in the kitchen. And laughing with old and new friends over a rambling, easy dinner that stretches into the night. Olé!
Garlic Shrimp with Chorizo
adapted from the Bromberg Bros Blue Ribbon Cookbook, 2010;
serves two as a small plate and multiplies easily
- 5 oz jumbo Gulf shrimp (about 6 pieces, 16/20 count), peeled and deveined
- 2-3 oz Spanish-style cured chorizo, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2″ hunks
- 1 Tbsp garlic olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2-3 medium garlic cloves, sliced as thinly as possible
- chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; toss all the ingredients except the parsley together and transfer to an oven-to-table baking dish. Bake until the shrimp turn pink and curl in on themselves, about 10 minutes, until just cooked through. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with bread and toothpicks.