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Mussels and Clams with Chorizo: A Tasty Pairing for a Cold Night

For whatever reason, when the weather turns cold I start craving spicy fatty foods (This is probably why I gain five pounds every winter!). Chorizo seems to be the perfect food to satisfy winter cravings. If you're not familiar with it, chorizo comes in many forms, but it is almost always a heavily spiced (but not always spicy) pork sausage with many uses and a healthy dose of fat (around 20-30% usually). The most common version here in Southern California is Mexican chorizo. This is a loose mix of ground pork that is VERY fatty and usually pretty spicy. It differs from Spanish and Portuguese varieties because it is encased in a plastic non-edible casing and is meant to be squeezed out and used as ground meat, as opposed to its counterparts, which are eaten whole or cut up into sausages. Amongst the other varieties of chorizo are what I'll call "fresh" and "dried". Both of these can be found smoked or not smoked. Dried sausages are cured with salt (sometimes nitrates/nitrites as well) and then hung to ferment and dehydrate. They are usually not cooked before being eaten, and make an awesome snack with some red wine and cheese. The fresh varieties carry a similar spiced flavor, but do not go through the drying/fermenting process.


The recipe below is a classic pairing of shellfish and chorizo. Clams and mussels are light and briny, giving a great balance to the chorizo. White wine is used as the cooking medium and is the base for the broth that will be served with the dish. Be sure to clean the shellfish well before making this recipe. Here's how: I think this is a great way to balance light seafood with heavy spiced flavors... perfect for cold nights. Enjoy!


Mussels and clams

Mussels and Clams with Chorizo

Yields 4 portions



*Olive Oil – 1 oz.

Chorizo, ¼ “ slices – ½ lb.

Garlic, minced – 1 tbsp.

Shallots, minced – 1 tbsp.

Mussels, cleaned – 1 dz. 

Clams, cleaned – 1 dz.

(Good) White Wine – 1 cup

Butter, unsalted – 2 tbsp. (optional)

Parsley, chopped – 1 tbsp.

Salt & Pepper – to taste

Fresh Crusty Bread – enough for 4 plates


* Use regular olive oil or olive pomace oil, not extra virgin, as it has a strong flavor that may turn bitter when used for high heat cooking.


To Make:

  1. Heat a deep sauté pan or shallow saucepan (that you have a lid for) over a medium flame. Add olive oil. It should shimmer. If it smokes remove the pan from the heat and let it cool  a bit before continuing.
  2. Add the sliced chorizo and sauté over medium heat until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté for about 1 minute until aromatic.
  4. Add mussels, clams, wine, and butter. Turn heat to high, cover, and cook until all clams and mussels open, about 5-8 minutes. Add water if liquid evaporates completely.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in parsley. Serve immediately (including the broth) with crusty bread on the side.


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Looks awesome!