Sunday, January 20, 2013

Keeping things spicy

Nick and I love spicy food and we love complex flavors.  Tonight's meal combines multiple flavors, building one upon another, with slight heat coming from multiple ingredients, leaving you with a warm, smokey, hearty meal that leaves you satisfied, and with just enough burn to leave you wanting more.  The nice thing is that from start to finish, you have a yummy meal in less than 45 minutes. The leftovers are equally amazing, too!

The main dish is based loosely on Mario Batali's "Calamari alla Lucia". Since I add a little more punch and extra ingredients to make it more hearty, I renamed it "Calamari alla Diabla".  Since I render some fat from the sausage, I also make up a quick appetizer of clams to nibble on while the rest of the food cooks away.

Note, this is broken down with the clams first, even though you are rendering the fact from your sausage first.

Spicy clams with garlic, onion and white wine
1 lb clams of your choice, preferably locally sourced, soaked and cleaned.
The fat from 1/2-1 lb of chorizo that you have cooked partly, this should yield a little less than a quarter cup of smoky delicious fat.  Set the chorizo aside, you'll be using it in the main dish (see directions).
3 cloves of garlic rough chopped
1/2 of an onion, diced
1/2 c white wine
Generous pinch of red pepper flake
1.5 tspn fresh ground pepper (or to taste)

Start by searing the chorizo, letting the casing crack open and the fat to render out. You don't want to cook the sausage completely, just cook out some of the fat.  Once you have about 1/4 cup of fat, remove the sausage and set aside, you'll use this in the main dish.

Add your garlic and onion, sauteing 1-2 minutes.  Next, add your hot pepper flakes, stirring. Once your onions are cooked through and the garlic is starting to turn golden, add your white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any delicious nibbly bits that may have stuck to your pan. Continue to cook this mixture for another minute, adding your pepper, and let it boil.  You want the mixture to slightly reduce, but for all of the flavors to combine (about another minute).

Reduce your heat, so the mixture is a slight rolling boil. Add your clams.  Cook until all of the little guys have opened up, as if to say, I am all yours!!!!  Throw out any that do not open.

Remove the clams and reduce the delicious broth, setting this aside as well, once it is reduced by half. You'll be using this in the main dish, too!

I like to start with this dish, so I have something to nibble on while I cook the rest of my dinner!

Next up is your main course!

Calamari alla Diabla

1/2 lb calamari tubes and legs
1/2 lb calamari steaks
1/2-1 lb spanish chorizo, slightly dried, not the super squishy stuff. I say 1/2-1 lb as some people love more sausage than others. (see below for directions on this, if you do not make the clam dish ahead of time).

The rest:
2 cups tomato sauce, I always can my own, so I use 1 pint jar worth
1 lime (if you like lemon more, please use that!)
1/4 c olive oil (leave out of you use the fat from the chorizo)
red pepper flakes-at least a few good pinches
3-4 cloves of garlic
1/2 c white wine
The reserved broth from above (this isn't essential to the dish, it's just really good)
A fistful of parsley, chopped
1/4 c red wine or white balsamic vinegar. (I have used both, but prefer the red wine vinegar.)
1 tsp ground pepper
1 small bay leaf
28 ounces of butter beans, either canned, or dried beans that you have soaked until tender
Crusty bread, to soak up the delicious broth
Parmesan, freshly grated over the top (as much as you'd like)
****Note, I don't add salt, as the sausage and Parmesan add enough salt. Do taste along the way and adjust to your liking!****

If you do not precook your chorizo for the earlier dish, start by searing the chorizo, letting the casing crack open and the fat to render out. You don't want to cook the sausage completely, just cook out some of the fat.  Once it is above 1/2 done and seared well, remove from the heat and set aside. You can use the fat from this, or instead use the 1/4 olive oil.

Saute the garlic and red pepper in the fat, until the garlic starts to brown. Add your sauce, wine, bay leaf and half of the vinegar, bringing it all to a simmer.

Meanwhile, chop your chorizo up into good sized bites, cut up your steaks into chunks, and slice your tubed and legs up as well. The idea is that it should be rustic, and that you can get a good bite with chorizo, bean and calamari all on one fork scoop.

Add the calamari to the sauce, adding your remaining vinegar and lime or lemon, as well as your clam broth (if using) and cook at a simmer until the calamari is starting to get tender.  Once it is, add your chorizo and cook until the calamari is tender and the chorizo is starting to fall apart. Add your beans, and cook until warmed through, top with the parsley and stir. It should look a bit like this, a delicious hot mess:

Add to a deep bowl, and sprinkle generously with Parmesan, adding a slice or two of crusty bread and enjoy. Beetlejuice picture posing completely optional :)