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8 & $20 Recipe: Spanish-Style Clams with a Basque White

This classic combination of flavors, paired with a wine called Txakolina, makes an easy light dinner

Jennifer Fiedler
Posted: April 24, 2012

Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.

Sausage and shellfish stews come in all sorts of regional permutations (think seafood gumbo, clam chowder with bacon, paella), but they don’t get much easier than this Spanish classic: clams and chorizo steamed in a garlicy white wine sauce. With a minimal amount of chopping and assemblage, this single pot dish comes together in well under 30 minutes.

A note about chorizo: There are a lot of different types out there (sweet, spicy, cooked, raw, Mexican, Spanish or Portuguese, etc. …). In this recipe, I used a mild cooked Spanish-style chorizo from specialty meat purveyor D’Artagnan. If you can’t find chorizo at all, look for andouille or a mild breakfast sausage, and then a supplemental seasoning of smoked paprika or sweet red peppers would do just fine.

When it comes to choosing the right wine for dinner, look at the strongest flavors in the dish: garlic, smoke and salt from the chorizo, and a sweet, briny component from the clams. The Spanish rosato (rosé) and fino Sherry we tried both were just fine with the dish, but a slightly sparkling Txakolina (cha-ko-lee-na) from the Basque region of Spain stood out. Yes, choosing a wine from the same region as the dish can feel a little old-school matchy-matchy (like coordinating your shoes to your bag), but here’s why this one works: The light fizziness and acidity cut the rich texture of the chorizo, while the wine’s minerally components made a natural pairing with the clams.

Clams and Chorizo

Bodegas Itsas-Mendi Hondarrabi Zuri Bizkaiko Txakolina 2010 (88 points, $20)

Total Time: 25 minutes

Approximate Food Cost: $26

  • 1 baguette, cut into oblong rounds
  • 2 chorizo sausages, diced (1/2 pound)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine (whatever you’re drinking will work best)
  • 6 small Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 30 littleneck clams, rinsed and scrubbed
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Brush the baguette rounds with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the rounds have crisped and browned slightly, around 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.

2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add the diced chorizo sausage and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, around 4 minutes. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft, around 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the wine and stir, scraping up any brown bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pan. When the wine comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the potatoes. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes have softened.

3. Add the clams to the covered pot and continue to cook until the clams have fully opened, around 4 to 6 minutes. Turn off the heat and discard any clams that have not fully opened. Add the parsley and the cooked chorizo to the pot and stir. Adjust the seasoning of the broth with salt. Divide the clams and broth mixture into 4 bowls and serve with the crisped baguette rounds. Serves 4.

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