A private party this last week for a friend of mine celebrating his 80th birthday. Some spectacular wines from Spain that he provided for his guests. And a request that we, more or less, suspend our usual style of cooking and go more with inspirations from classic Spanish dishes. It was kind of fun to just play in a slightly different genre for a night.
Brochettes: Quickly steam open some clams, just enough to get the shells to open and be able to remove the clam meat. I’d already let them purge their grit overnight in saltwater. Placed them in a plastic wrapped baking dish and used my “smoking gun” to give them a good dose of olive wood smoke.
Oven baked lardons of pancetta. Dry fried and blistered shishito peppers. All lined up on a skewers and then grilled to order at service time. For a couple of pescetarian folk, I replaced the bacon lardons with mushroom caps that had been semi-dehydrated in the oven with soy, mirin, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Set the brochettes on the plate and carefully removed the skewers.
Sauce: Good olive oil that I’d also lightly smoked, gently warmed with chopped, toasted hazelnuts, lemon zest, fresh oregano, a pinch of smoked merquen chili, and the strained juices from the clams when I’d steamed them. Salt and black pepper to finish.
The wine: Contino “Corona” Rioja Semidulce Blanco 1939