Saturday, June 2, 2007

Chorizo with Sherry & Crispy Capers

It’s tapas time. Not that I don’t like tapas all year round. But when the sun gets hot, that’s when I really crave those little nibbles of pungent flavor, all washed down with glasses of ice cold sherry or rosé. I’ve lost whole days in tapas bars from Barcelona to Seville. They are simply the only place to be when the light gets too bright and the heat too intense.

Tapa literally means "lid" in Spanish. Traditionally, as Spaniards bar-hopped to fill the long hours between the end of the work day and the customarily late evening meal, they would be given a piece of bread to protect their glass from flies. Topping this bread with a little cured ham or marinated fish surely seemed the natural thing to do, and the tapas bar was born.

Perched at a tapas bar, you can ogle all the food, most of which is precooked and kept under glass, as well as the people ordering it. The dishes are usually too strong to eat a whole plate of, just like the weather’s too stifling to endure a whole day of, but small helpings of whatever’s offered will rouse the senses like nothing else. Tapas is made to be shared, and that’s the nicest food of all in my book.

Chorizo is a Spanish pork sausage flavored with smoked paprika and garlic. It can be bought picante (hot) or dulce (mild), and either fresh or fermented and dried. If it’s fresh, you must cook it, but if you have dried chorizo, you can usually serve it like any other salumi.

Here’s the fresh version, crisp and caramelized on the outside but juicy and savory within. The sherry goes slightly syrupy, and the sizzled capers taste sharply exotic. It’s a wonderful contrast in texture and flavor, and something I come back to again and again.

And when I’ve got my wits about me, I cook extra. The cold sausages make a fantastic sandwich on a hunk of baguette the next day.

Serves 4 - 6 as tapas

2 tbsp capers, preferably preserved in salt, but brined is fine
extra virgin olive oil
2 lb fresh chorizo or other spicy sausages
½ cup dry sherry

Rinse the capers under running water. If you’re using salted capers, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes and rinse again. Squeeze out the excess water and drain the capers on paper towels.

Heat a small sauté pan over medium high heat. Add a glug of olive oil and then the capers. Sauté until crisp and drain on more paper towels.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the sausages into inch-thick disks. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add another glug of olive oil and arrange the sausage slices in the pan. You may have to work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Sauté 4 - 5 minutes a side and then pour off the fat.

Remove from the heat and add the sherry. Turn the heat to high, and reduce the sherry by two-thirds. Toss with the capers and serve with crusty bread and cold wine.


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Amanda! That looks incredible. I am a huge fan of tapas, antipasti, mezze - small plates in whatever language you want to use. That is my prefered way of eating. The idea around sharing food is one that I think is invaluable - and so good for general well-being.

I love your combination of chorizo and capers - nice bold combination!

I wanted to let you know, this morning I made scrambled eggs and drizzled truffle oil and parm on top per your suggestion and it was great! Thanks!

Figs, Olives, Wine said...

Hi Jenn,
So glad you like the chorizo! Yes, I'm a big fan of the little dishes of the Mediterranean, and I think they're a great way of having people over. 4 or 5 different little things, great bread, great wine, and I'm a happy girl!

So glad you like my breakfast eggs. Between that and the strawberry prosciutto crostini, it gets pretty decadent up here...

Anonymous said...

Love capers! Love tapas! Love this website!

Figs, Olives, Wine said...

Thanks anonymous - so glad you like! Stay in touch!

ME said...

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well".
Virgina woolf.

Figs, Olives, Wine said...

True 'dat, ME.
What a great quote that is!

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

Delicious looking dish.
Let me know if you have ever come across EDDOES which is what we are presently learning to love.

roger said...

Thanks for stopping by - what nice things you right about! ...I love cooked chorizo - try it with filo pastry pizza.

Figs, Olives, Wine said...

Hi Great Big Veg Challenge,
I had never heard of eddoes, but I've been looking around and I think you can make really nice gnocchi out of them! You directly sub the eddoes for the potatoes in the recipe and proceed as normal. Can't wait to see what you end up doing and what Freddie has to say about it!

Merci beaucoup, Roger! I was very happy to find your site, and I'm inspired by the idea of chorizo on filo as pizza! Will start playing around with this asap! Thanks for the idea and for stopping by. Stay in touch!

Cynthia said...

Hi Amanda,

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such kind comments. Truly appreciated. I'm glad to have discovered yours! Now here's a cuisine that I love - simple, flavourful, healthy food. I just had a quick look at some of your posts and pics, beautiful, tempting and inspiring. Will be back often for more.


Figs Olives Wine said...

Thank you Cynthia! I'm so glad you like the site. Stay in touch!!
Warm Wishes,

wellunderstood said...

wow, just stumbled onto your blog. beautiful! can't wait to read more!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi wellunderstood, and welcome! I'm so happy you like the site! Thanks for stopping by, and stay in touch.

tammy said...

Oh, Lordy. Another great idea. Just the thing to make a dent in my huge jar of capers in the fridge.

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Tammy,
Thank you! I'm so glad you like it! Crispy capers are so addictive, I'm sure you'll work through that jar in the fridge in no time. I make them for salads and fish too. Let me know if you come up with any other ideas!

Sue Gordon said...

I am soooooooo doing that the next time I use a caper.

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hey Sue! It's totally worth the extra couple of minutes! So delish. Hope you enjoy the capers!

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