For our first anniversary, we spent the day in Santa Fe, which is known for some really good restaurants (among other things) in this part of the world. We hard time deciding where to grub, but we knew we wanted something different that we couldn’t get around here. We ended up at Amavi, a regional Mediterranean restaurant. Our entire meal was delicious, but one thing in particular stuck with us — our appetizer of steamed clams, mussels and Spanish chorizo. Every bite was delicious, including the crusty bread that sopped up all the juices. We were determined to recreate the dish, and this was our attempt.

Our biggest task was finding Spanish style chorizo. Mexican style (ground, uncooked, seasoned pork) is everywhere around here, but we really struggled to find Spanish style (dried, cured, seasoned pork). We ended up finding some at Talin Market, so we picked up two packages and were on the hunt for sample recipes and ideas. We weren’t sure what else was in the appetizer we h ad at Amavi other than the obvious contenders — clams, mussels, chorizo and some kind of broth. We searched for a lot of recipes, and ended up using this one we found on another food blog (which I have subsequently fallen in love with), giving it our own little spin. (I’m the only fan of mussels in our house, so we used more clams in their place.)

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 4 (BTW, I’ve decided it probably makes a lot of sense to tell you how much of something you’re cooking, so I’m now including servings in my posts!)
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 3 to 5 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 or 2 fennel bulb(s), thinly sliced
– salt and pepper
– red pepper flakes
– 1/2 tsp paprika
– 1 lb Spanish style chorizo, sliced
– 1 cup dry white wine
– 1 cup clam juics
– 3 dozen clams (you can use pre-cooked frozen clams)
– 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
– juice of 1/2 lemon

In a high-sided saute pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for one to two minutes until they begin to sweat out, then add the garlic and fennel. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and paprika. Continue to saute until the onion becomes translucent and the fennel starts cooking down. Add the chorizo to the pan and stir to combine (you don’t have to worry about cooking time here because Spanish chorizo is already cooked). We let the chorizo brown a little, but it didn’t cook for more than five minutes.

Add the wine and clam juice to the pan and bring to a boil. As soon as the wine and clam juice comes to a rolling boil, add the clams. Stir to combine and immediately cover the pan. Steam for three to five minutes, or until all the clams have opened up, discarding any that may not have opened. Remove from the heat, stir in parsley and lemon juice and serve over freshly cooked spaghetti (make sure to get plenty of juice to soak up with a good loaf of bread).

Pasta with Clams and Chorizo

This wasn’t a replica of our amazing appetizer (I think we may have been missing some kind of tomato product?), but it was pretty damn good. The fennel, which wasn’t in the original, added a great crunch and flavor to the dish. The clams absorbed all the wonderful flavors of the wine and chorizo and were perfectly cooked. And the broth…it was amazing. The mixture of wine, clam juice and lemon juice really worked well together, not to mention all the flavors it picked up from the chorizo and fennel. It made a great light sauce for the pasta and was perfect for soaking up with bread — lots of bread. We’ll definitely be making this again, but next time there will be some type of tomato involved.

Make sure to check out Las Vegas Food Adventures for this and other great recipes (and restaurant reviews). And if you’re in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area, make sure to plan a meal at Amavi, you won’t regret it.