When I’m feeling particularly industrious during a weekend morning hate-watch of the Food Network, I’ll sit down with my cookbooks and start flagging recipes to try with Post-Its. Over time the notes get a little scraggly as the books are taken off and placed back on the shelf and splatters from other cooking exploits land on them, but I can never bring myself to remove them–especially if I haven’t made that recipe. The really decrepit ones taunt me the most, and I’ll get it in my head that there’s something fundamentally inaccessible about the recipe to prevent me from making it, because why else would I continue to avoid it?
Almejas con chorizo, from the frequently-used Barcelona Wine Bar Cookbook, was one of those recipes that I’d suggest to Michael from time to time in the hopes of finally trying, but he’d always say no. Frankly, his reasons were flimsy at best, usually centered around the fact that it requires buying clams and I am anal-retentive about keeping those fuckers alive after I killed a bag of them back when we lived in Morningside Heights. (Okay, so maybe that’s a reasonable reason for wanting to avoid clams). Well, I blew that rationale out the window when I came home with two and a half dozen clams–alive clams, thank you very much–and proceeded to make the best damn clam dish I’ve had in ages.
What makes this work is that everything is so flavorful, but the ingredient list is not extensive. A good chorizo and an interesting white wine is really all you need to make this dish successful, as they form the base of the cooking liquid. I use a Verdejo from the La Mancha region of Spain from the same outfit who makes my favorite red wine, and it yielded the most aromatic sauce. The garlic and thyme help, of course, but the wine kind of makes or breaks this dish–use your favorite wine here, because it will be that flavor in concentrate that you drink in while eating clams and sop up with a fresh baguette.
If you’re looking for a good New Year’s dish, I can’t recommend this more: not only are clams slang for cash, but chorizo is made from pork, and my late grandfather made a point to tell both Michael and me that it’s good luck to eat pork on New Year’s because pigs move forward, while chicken and other fowl can scratch backward; in any case, it’s a delicious celebration in a dish.
The recipe can be found here, and frankly, if you’re serving a crowd this New Year’s, you will be heralded if you serve this, and it really could not be much simpler.