Monday, January 24, 2011

Clams and Chorizo in a Copper Cataplana

Although cooking has been a passion of mine for several years, food blogging is a relatively new hobby. I find it hard to believe what we've acquired in the past year and a half in order to support this latest devotion! I'm talking major purchases of furniture, cameras and lenses, photography equipment and lighting, serveware, glassware, cookware, and cookbooks. We often spend our Saturdays "junking" for interesting and unique plates, platters, utensils, and anything else that might enhance future blog posts. I used to buy shoes and clothes, now I buy onesies and twosies of plates and different colored napkins.

The good news is I've become much easier to buy for when it comes to birthdays and Christmas - just find me something blogalicious.

Mom did just that this past Christmas, with a stunning, hammered copper Cataplana. Cataplana is a Portuguese seafood dish, popular on the country's Algarve coast, but it is also the name of the special cookware used to prepare the dish, which is traditionally made of copper and shaped like two clam shells hinged at one end and able to be sealed using a clamp on either side of the assembly. Much like the word Tagine, Cataplana is the name for both the recipe and utensil in which you cook it.

I have enjoyed many recipes from David Leite's The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe's Western Coast, and knew I could count on his Clams in a Cataplana to break in my new treasure.

Clams in a Cataplana
From David Leite's The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe's Western Coast, with slight adaptations (Recipe also published on Leite's Culinaria, here


2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces dry-cured Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch coins
One 1/4-inch-thick slice prosciutto, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, cut lengthwise in half and sliced into thin half-moons
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 mild green chile, such as Anaheim, cut into thin strips
1 Turkish bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, minced
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, drained and chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
3 pounds small clams, such as cockles, manila, butter or littlenecks, scrubbed and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


1. Heat the oil in a large cataplana until it shimmers. Add the Spanish chorizo and prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until a bit brown around the edges, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, bell pepper, chile and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and peppers are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the tomatoes and any accumulated juice, the wine, and paprika. Add the cockles to the cataplana and turn the heat to high. Close and lock the cataplana and cook 10 to 12 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the cockles open.

3. David advises, "carry the cataplana triumphantly to the table, making sure everyone’s watching, then release the lid and bask in the applause."

4. Discard the bay leaf and toss out any cockles that refused to pop open. Season with a few grinds of pepper, shower with parsley, and ladle into wide shallow bowls. Serve with crusty bread to soak up all the juice.


I also served Orange Salad with Pine Nuts and a slice of Basque Potato Tortilla, to be revealed in a few weeks on a French Fridays with Dorie post. The clams and juices would also be fabulous served over linguine.

I love my new present - it's very blogalicious!



bunkycooks said...

Hi there,

As lovely as this dish is and we know how fabulous YOUR cooking is...we need to get back to that old fashioned girl shopping and go get us a great pair of shoes!!!

I hope we can do that in between the jazz sessions and the Hurricanes ;) !


Cubicle said...

This recipe looks divine. I don't have that cooking vessel, but I might try it in something I already have. Thanks for sharing!

Denise said...

Cubicle - Any large pot with a tight-fitting lid will work for this recipe.

Mom said...

The cataplana was superb! Loved the steamy presentation in the gorgeous ‘giant clam’ and sopping up that flavorful sauce with the warm bread was truly a dish to be savored. It’s a keeper!

Denise said...

Gwen - Does that mean you're meeting us in NOLA?! Shopping will definitely be on the list, and lots of food and drink!

Carmen said...

Great photo! Beautiful dish! You did it again!

Carolyn Jung said...

Now, that is one gorgeous pan! You bring that baby to the table, lift off the lid, and you will hear ooh's and ahh's like never before. Clams are a fitting centerpiece for such a pan, too. They make the other shine even more.

Anonymous said...

I'm studying abroad in Spain right now and I just came back from a long weekend in Lagos. Definitely got bit by the Portuguese cuisine bug, so I'm hoping to make this gorgeous dish for my host family in the next week or so! I wonder if I can find a cataplana for cheap here in Sevilla...seems to me like the vessel is half the fun!